What do you mean I haven’t blogged in six months? How is that possible? This is a prime example of how life gets away from us. I have been focused on attending to the crises that present themselves, “putting out fires” as they say, and I’ve put the other stuff on the back burner until I have time. Well we can see how that worked out. Six months went by! I have always known this. You have to be proactive. You have to make time for the things that matter. But it sure is easy to get wrapped up with things and way off track.
There is a nice trend this New Year that instead of setting resolutions that they worry will fail, people are choosing theme words that represent an attitude or a commitment for the year. One of my friends has chosen Organization as her word, and will use it to keep her life that has started to feel chaotic more in order. Another friend chose Nurture and plans to nurture her body and her family and her job. There are so many ways to apply these words. They become a Mantra that you can whisper to yourself every single day as opportunities present themselves for self-care.
The word I have chosen is Schedule. I am taking charge of my daily and weekly life. I am planning exercise and recreation, as well as chores and bill paying and even blogging! I’m not a control freak about time, that actually might be the problem. I tend to wing it. I can be very productive that way and do well at multi-tasking. But the old way tends to only focus on what the world is demanding from me rather than what I CHOOSE to see as important. So this year I am even scheduling time to schedule time. I will be realistic and build flexibility into the schedule, but being proactive will help me make sure my own priorities are attended to and not left to sit and then six months goes by.
Will you choose a word this year? If so, be sure to make it positive rather than punishing. Have it be applicable to many situations and be kind to yourself. This life changing stuff is a big deal. (Here is a link to my friend Margo’s blog about this One Word Resolution making. No Resolutions or Goals)
I have heard a number of people refusing to set new year resolutions, stating, why bother…They won’t be accomplished anyway. The frustration of having set past goals and not accomplishing them can be discouraging. Here are some guidelines to help you succeed at your next personal goal.
1. Set realistic measurable attainable goals. If your goal is too vague, like “I want to be happy”, you may never know when you get there. Define what happy (or rich, or thin, etc) means to you. What will it look like? How will you feel? Is there a way to measure it, like “I will have 4 days per week when I feel like I have accomplished something.”
2. Measure it. Keep track. Journal. Sometimes we make more progress than we think, but if we don’t have an objective measure of where we’ve been we tend to minimize our success because the mountain still ahead seems so daunting.
3. Break it down. Imagine your ultimate goal and work back from there. Draw a set of stairs on paper and put the ultimate goal at the top, like Be a Doctor. On the step before that put the goal that would need to be accomplished just before, like Graduate from Med School. Then work back from there, visualizing each step that would have gotten you to the next, until you get to where you are today, like Get an A in High School Anatomy. This technique helps us see how what we are doing today really is setting us on the road toward what we want in the long run.
4. Create new habits. Change can be difficult… But not impossible. Someone once said it takes 21 days in a row to create a new habit. The point is, if you’ve done something the same way for a long time, it has become a bad habit and it will take repetition to change that habit. Don’t be frustrated if you slip up. Just catch it and turn it around, catch it and turn it around. If you are trying to stop cursing and you say a bad word, stop, notice, replace that word with a better one, and move on. Doing this over and over is what creates the new habit.
5. Reward yourself. Remember the movie What About Bob? “Baby Steps”. Set small goals and reward yourself as you accomplish them. If you are trying to lose weight and you lose 10 pounds, reward yourself with a new workout outfit or some new workout music. These small accomplishments give you something to anticipate and help keep you motivated for the long haul.
6. If at first you don’t succeed… Self improvement should be life long. We all have ways to grow and improve. If you fall off the bandwagon hop back up and start again. Look at what triggered you to slip and learn from it, using it to help you in the future. Don’t focus on the slip, keep moving forward.
7. Don’t wait. New Years and landmark birthdays and Mondays give us concrete dates to start something new. But if you have a good idea or a strike of motivation in the middle of the week or the middle of the year, jump on it. There’s no time like the present, and there are no rules on self improvement but the ones you set for yourself. It’s your life, make it a good one!