Set Goals, Not Resolutions

One week of the new year down, and what have you accomplished? Many of us create beautiful vision boards that we tuck away and ignore all year. Some of us make elaborate lists with lofty goals that becoming more and more intimidating as the days fly by. Even more of us keep the ideas we have and things we want floating idly in our minds, with a silent promise of, “I’ll start tomorrow” lingering in the cobwebs. Did you know that almost all of the people (91%) who make resolutions never succeed at reaching their desired outcome? With a week down, have you thought about what side of that coin you’re going to land on?

man-eating-donut

I always tell people that I don’t make resolutions, and that’s the truth. Part of it is because I hate doing what other people are doing, but the bigger part is that I know that I’ll fail at them, because they’re just words. My daily goal is to always be better than who I was yesterday, and that encompasses not just my actions, but my internal growth meter. Of course, that is a pretty vague goal, so I follow-up that vagueness with brainstorming specific actions I need to take to meet my micro-goals that enable me to be a better version of myself.

curly-girl

Effective planning is probably the most integral part of my goal setting strategy, because honestly, how can you get to the end if you haven’t thought about the journey? You would never (hopefully) travel to a new place without doing some sort of research, and you’d more than likely pull out the maps app on your phone to help guide you to your destination. In order for your goals to be realistic and accessible, making a clear plan HAS to be your first step. Of course, I didn’t really think about this in the past. I would just go through my days, fitting things in on a whim or when I had what I considered to be a spare moment, and as a result, didn’t get much done. I’ve taken to planning out my week on Sundays, to make sure that I’m doing at least one thing per day to reach specific goals. It doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be consistent and with intent.

gorilla-computer

Consistency and intent are in the top five of my relationship priority list, but they’re also at the top of my goals planning. I always have grand ideas that seem impossible, but I’ve learned that working towards them daily is what brings them to fruition. I set aside time each and every day to work on a particular goal, and this set time is non-negotiable (save for emergencies). Even if I’m just reading something that relates to my goal, I make sure that there are no distractions and that the time is sacred. It may seem as if blocking out time is restrictive, and that we don’t have enough hours in the day, but how often do we start scrolling on social media (me) and look at the time and realize we’ve been doing it for 30+ minutes (also me)?! If you have at least 20 minutes a day, that’s enough to add a drop to your goal bucket.

bunny-reading-newspaper

Finally, accountability is a huge step for me, and one that keeps me on track. My friends and I will frequently share our goals with each other, and schedule routine check-ins to make sure we’re doing what we vowed to do. I talked about the steps towards your goals not having to be large, and this has resulted in a daily habit I share with my friends. We will text each other in the mornings with one to three micro-goals, and then follow-up in the evening to make sure we’ve accomplished them. One thing I hate is appearing unprepared or like I’m falling behind, so I make sure I’ve done whatever it is I said I’d do.

ducks

After the excitement of creating resolutions and goals has worn off, they can turn into pretty daunting things that are easy to cast to the side because they seem difficult, but they don’t have to be. Staying focused on your vision is the most important aspect of goal-setting, and can be easy if you plan smartly for it. One of my favorite books that discusses this in more detail is the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. For planning, I purchased the Passion Planner this year, and it has helped me plan my days down to the half hour. We’re only a week into the new year, and it’s not too late to focus on making this your best year yet. Don’t be the 91% who didn’t follow through.

 

 

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Prepare for Greatness

One of my very best girlfriends sent me a wonderful, inspiring short video this morning. It was a video of Steve Harvey, and in it, he was discussing how important it is for us to decide to step out on faith and take that “jump” towards fulfilling our purpose in life. I loved it so much that I shared it with other friends, who immediately stated that it was just what they needed this morning. For Millenials like myself, life can seem like one endless sequence in “Groundhog Day“. We get up, we slave away at work (usually without taking a lunchbreak or any sort of break), we stay there well past quitting time, we rush home, cook dinner, get some gym time in, shower, fall into bed, and prepare ourselves to do it all again the next day. We comment on how quickly the days, the weeks, the months, the YEARS fly by, and lament on how we don’t feel fulfilled. How if, we just had more time, or more money, or more focus, we would be living the life of our dreams. We stare lifelessly at our work computer screens, we feel our souls dying with each meeting request that pops up on our Outlook to fill our day, and we complain. And we make excuses. And we do nothing. So how do we begin to get out of this sick cycle?

Mini Man

I believe the first key is to start taking just a little bit of time for yourself each day. No, I don’t mean that you should take thirty minutes to scroll aimlessly through your Instagram feed, admiring the false lives of others (that’s called procrastination and distraction). I mean really take that necessary “me” time to get to know yourself. Start by making a list. What is it you would do if money and time weren’t an issue? What makes you sing in the morning? Do you get excited when have time in the kitchen to really put something amazing together? Maybe during all of those meetings, you’re sketching amazing pictorials on your notebook. Or you’re active imagination is creating a telenovela of the fictional lives of your coworkers. Essentially, where does your creativity seem to be sparked?

Open Land

After you’ve taken this time, and made this list (or, if you’re like me, your visual guide), start figuring out how you can begin to fit these things you love into your daily life. Maybe, instead of taking your cell phone in the bathroom with you at home (we all do it, don’t be coy), you bring a notebook to start outlining your plans for your new interior design company. Set real goals for yourself – S.M.A.R.T.E.R. ones – that are attainable. The key here is to get everything down in writing, so, when you feel unmotivated, you can have your own positive words written down to reignite your passion. For me, it was easier to map out my yearly goals on my vision board, and then I could figure out which ones I could expand on and tackle first. Your priority is to be intentional with what you want out of life. The things you want aren’t just going to appear out of thin air, no matter how much wishing and praying you do. Prayer means nothing without action, so you MUST ensure that you aren’t just sitting there hoping for miraculous deliverance.

Live Free

 

And finally – and this is the most important part – share your plan with someone you truly trust. My friends and I are very good about motivating and encouraging each other on a daily basis. Of course, positive reinforcement is great, but what’s most important is that it makes us accountable to the goals and aspirations we have set. One of my friends had a great idea last year to text each other one small goal we had for the day, and at the end of the day, we either checked in to say we completed it, or the other friend would check in to find out if the goal was met. Life kind of got the better of us and we fell off a bit, but it helped us to feel accomplished even when the days weren’t going the way we wanted. It is essential for you to connect and engage with like-minded people, because negativity is a poison that will hinder you from your progress.

Waterfall

It’s so easy to blame others for the lack in our lives, but no one is responsible for you but you. You are the only person who has ultimate control over your progression and your destiny. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to stop the blame game, and to accept responsibility, whether good or bad, for the choices I’ve made in my life. When you begin to see the light in every dark place, you gain power and understanding in reaching your ultimate purpose. Like Steve said, sometimes you’ll make that jump and the parachute won’t deploy immediately, but sometimes trying is better than not trying and never knowing how strong that parachute could have been.

 

The Present IS a Present

Today I saw a quote that was attributed to the Dalai Lama on Facebook. It was his thoughts on what surprised him most about humanity, and he said, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived”. I saw it first thing this morning, and it definitely resonated with me. I, like many young people of my generation, am so focused on the future and future goals, that I fail to take a breath and look back at how far I’ve come, and appreciate where I am now.

The-Dalai-Lama-Image

The thought took me through the rest of the workday, and on my way home, I had a good “life” conversation with one of my best friends. She had recently gone through some major life changes, and shared with me how happy she was to finally feel like everything was falling into place, how she was feeling settled. She felt like she had been doing too much planning planning planning, always running, never resting. And finally, FINALLY, she was starting to learn the beauty of living in the now.

Catcher in the Rye

What’s funny about that conversation is that it’s seemingly a constant theme amongst my friends and I, like we’re all having these mini epiphanies all over the place. After spending so much time worried about the future and being stressed about all we haven’t accomplished, we are finally understanding the value in enjoying what we have today. I created my vision board for the year last weekend (as promised in my previous post), and the activity proved to be time-consuming, but extremely cathartic in so many ways. While its focus was on my goals for the year, getting them all down in one place has appeared to free up the mental space for me to bask in what’s directly in front of me. My focus and goals are still there and always present of course, but now, they don’t consume me with constant stress and despair.

Open Road

What truly is the point of working tirelessly if you’re never taking the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor? I would hate for people to remember me solely as a “hard worker”, as “ambitious” and “forward-looking”, but speak nothing to my love of life, my dedication to improving the world, my love of the beauty that surrounds us. Take a moment this weekend to just reflect on all of the wonderful-ness in your life, and appreciate where you are, right now. Enjoy this moment…you can worry about tomorrow, well, tomorrow.

You’re Not Hungry Enough

A good friend and I were having a very intense conversation late one night (much like the majority of our nightly convos), and this one was about careers and life goals. I was complaining about the lack of creativity in my corporate role, while he was proclaiming his anticipation of finally being able to do what he loves on a full-time basis. I made the mistake of telling him that I wish I felt that way about what I do, and thus, the probing began.

Creative Mind

He asked me to think about what I loved to do; something I would do, even if I didn’t get paid for it. I threw out a couple of things I like doing, but then I said, “If I could do anything full-time, something I absolutely love, it would be to create, to write”. Of course, he says, “There you go. Do that”. And like many people, I began throwing out excuses: no time, kids, this, that, yada yada yada. He quickly and quietly shut down my negativity monologue though. “You don’t want it that bad then. You’re not hungry enough”.

Baby Birds

That comment gave me pause. Because of course, when it comes to work, I try my best, I work hard, so I almost felt offended that someone would insinuate that I wasn’t hungry! I bust my behind with everything I do, because my hunger and competitive spirit doesn’t allow me to be anything but the best. When I really thought about it though, I realized that my work-life really isn’t my best. It’s the best for someone else. It doesn’t give me an extreme sense of satisfaction. It doesn’t make me feel like I’ve contributed anything awesome to society. Essentially, my “best” isn’t bringing value or meaningful growth to ME.

Live Your Best Life

I decided to take that comment as a challenge, and start making goals that would reignite that feeling of competitiveness, of usefulness, of hunger. But not just goals that I’ll write down, walk away from, and barely remember. I want them to make me accountable, not to everyone else, but to myself. Sometimes, we allow circumstances to shift our focus away from where we want to be in life, and we create excuses for that shift, instead of making changes. Excuses are null and void for me now; I’m ready to create change.

 

 

Multi-Racial Misfit

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