Resolve to Improve

Are you living your dream life - doing what you want, when you want?  Are you making the kind of money that allows you the freedom to do the activities you really enjoy while keeping you satisfied and fulfilled?  Most of us will answer 'no' to this question, which makes the new year the perfect time to start making changes in our lives so that we can eventually shout 'YES!' when we see this inquiry.

Remember that everything is a choice.  The life you're living is all based on choices that you have previously made.  So why not choose to live a life that really makes you happy?  By setting and focusing on goals you have for your perfect dream life, you can start to make progress towards it.  Don't settle for "fine", merely looking forward to those couple of times a year when you really enjoy yourself.  This is the only life you live, so why not choose to enjoy every day?

This is the time of year most of us make our New Year Resolutions, so now is the perfect time to resolve to make this the best year ever!  When creating your resolutions, here are some tips to help ensure that you get the most out of your goals:

  • Dream big
    • There are going to be things in your life that you may not think you’re capable of or that you can’t imagine you’ll ever have.  If those things are part of your dream life, write them down anyway!  You won’t be living your dream life if you leave out things you don’t currently think are possible.  I’ll bet you that at the end of the year you’ll be impressed with yourself on the amount of progress you’ve made towards those “impossible” ambitions.
  • Keep them measurable
    • How will you know if you’ve reached your objective if you can’t measure it?  For example, lots of people will have a goal similar to “exercise more” or “get healthy”, but that has no quantity or qualifier to it.  How will you know you’re healthier?  Make your end result very specific, such as “floss at least 3 times a week” or “do 20 minutes of exercise 3 times a week”.  Then once you set those goals, make sure you keep track of it.  Print out a blank calendar and put a letter in the day for your tasks – ‘f’ when you floss and ‘e’ when you exercise, for example.  Or you can keep a journal you update at the end of the each day keeping track of the progress you’ve made towards your targets.
  • Think about the why
    • When writing goals, it’s important to really know what you hope to gain from achieving them.  Are you setting the objective because if you achieve it, you get to avoid something?  Or is the purpose to help you obtain something you really want?  For example, is your target to avoid confrontation or to improve your relationship?  It’s always better to aspire for things you want rather than things you don’t want.
  • Set some goals for fun and enjoyment
    • This seems to be an area that a lot of us forget.  Making sure we set aside downtime for us is even more important than making sure we’re setting productivity goals.  It’s the time we spend relaxing and enjoying ourselves that gives us the energy we need to be our best and the time we need to process what’s happening in our lives and come up with new and brilliant ideas.  Even if you don’t specifically set goals around having fun, make sure you think about how much time you’ll need to set aside for that when coming up with the rest of your resolutions.  Which leads me to the next bullet point…
  • Don’t set too many
    • A big issue I’ve had in the past with setting New Year’s Resolutions is having too many.  I think I’m going to accomplish all of these things and have the most productive year ever and then I end up not making many (or any) of my goals.  I have been unsuccessful partially because I was spreading myself too thin, partially because I didn’t schedule any time for me to relax and just be, and partially because I forgot that life just happens and can get in the way.  I don’t have a recommendation on the “right” number of goals to set yourself because it depends on what they are, what’s going on in your life, and how motivated you are, among other factors.  Pick an amount that feels just slightly uncomfortable and see how you do, keeping in mind that you can’t spend every waking moment being productive.  You can always adjust the amount of resolutions you set next year.
  • Set professional goals along with personal ones
    • We spend 8-10 hours of our week days working.  After cooking, cleaning, family time, errands, showering, and sleeping, that leaves approximately 0-2 hours for ourselves.  Most of the New Year Resolutions we set are around what we’re going to do in those 0-2 hours/day.  Why not set a goal or two for the 8-10 hours/day we’re working?  After all, you may be a lot happier if you made more money or had a different job.  So create a goal around that!  Setup an objective for getting that promotion or moving to that job you aren’t sure you’re qualified for but would make you a lot happier.

Don’t be discouraged if at the end of the year you realize that you didn’t reach all of the goals you set.  You can always roll them over to the next year.  Reflect on your goals from the previous year and review your progress on them.  How do you feel about the progress you made?  What got in the way of you reaching your goals?  What actions did you take or thoughts did you have that really helped drive your progress?  What actions or thoughts hindered you?  We are always on a journey and everything we do is a process.  If you didn’t see the results you had hoped for, reflecting on what happened during the year when you were really making progress and feeling satisfied will help you learn what you can do more of in the following year to reach your goals.

I could write about goals forever.  Each goal for each person is so different.  Once you’ve set your goals it’s time to think about how to reach them along with accountability.  This is the place where most people fall off the wagon.  They have these great goals setup that will improve their lives and make them happier than they’ve ever been, yet they don’t follow through with them because there’s no one for them to report their progress to or they aren’t sure how to get there.  There are many ways to setup accountability and I’ll write a blog article about it in the future.  As for reaching your goals, think one step at a time.  You don’t have to jump to the top of the mountain.  Start by taking your first step.  I would love to discuss your goals and what the perfect accountability setup looks like for you.