THE SECRET REVISITED
In part 1 of this 2-part series, “Are You Feeling Stuck in Life? How Will You Feel Next January 1st??!!,” I shared a big secret with you about how to set goals for your life and promised this article would be about the process of achieving them. So, as a reminder, the secret is this: that in order to have the life you want, you first have to figure out what you really, really want, deep down in your heart of hearts. (If you missed that article, go read it now and download the free Aspects of Life Workbook!)
This is so important because if you don’t have a really strong and clear reason WHY YOU want something, you won’t be able to stick to your plans and do what’s necessary to actually get it.
So now, let’s talk about the process – – HOW to set meaningful goals for your life and actually achieve them?
I’ll be honest here – – for most of my life this sort of thinking put me into a major tailspin. I just didn’t know what I wanted…and so I certainly didn’t have a WHY to guide me and it was difficult to make and stick to any plans.
But here’s what finally set me free – – and can set you free, too. This does NOT need to be overwhelming!
1) Realize that this is YOUR life and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says you should do or have. They are not you. They don’t have your same body, mind, and spirit. Everything is a choice…and YOU get to choose how you live your life – – there is no rule anywhere that says you must live the way someone else thinks you should. Whenever you find yourself saying “I should…,” ask yourself, “Who Says?” And then see if it’s something you really want to do.
2) Realize that your goals do not need to be big, important, world-changing things. They might be, if that’s what’s in your heart…but they don’t have to be. They can be something as simple as “making my bed every day,” or “create a beautiful garden.” It’s your life and your choice. It’s about what you need, what matters to you, and what lights you up. You do what you can and start where you are.
3) Realize that your goals can change any time you want to change them! If you don’t want something anymore, drop it and do something else. If life happens and throws you off course, set a new course. The rule is, there are no rules! It’s your life…You get to decide how you spend your time. There are no more “shoulds!” If you change your mind it’s really ok! You’re not being flighty or lazy. Those are just negative labels we’ve heard from other people in the past. You’re just changing your mind. You’re allowed!
STEPS TO GET UNSTUCK
So ok – – let’s get into the nitty-gritty here. Did you work through the Aspects of Life Workbook from Part 1? If not, I suggest you pause and do it so the rest of this will make sense. You can get it here.
- Pull out your workbook, turn to the page with the “Aspects of Life” circles, and get into your quiet, contemplative mindset.
- Identify which ones you drew the dashed line to, indicating that it’s an area of stress or unhappiness for you. Put a star next to each of those circles.
- For example, I starred:
- Household Responsibilities
- For example, I starred:
- On one of the “Notes” pages, or in your journal, or any other paper of your choice (or even in a digital notepad if you prefer,) write down each of those starred areas and make notes of what comes to mind that you would like to change.
- Remember: Your Pain Is A Beacon! Use it to help you identify what you most want to change.
- For each thing you would like to change, write down everything, big or small, you could do to improve it. Just brain dump – – don’t edit yourself, don’t think about whether it’s possible or whether you can afford it – just write everything that pops into your head.
- For example, this is what I wrote:
- Household: Hire a housekeeper, Hire a personal chef, Bite the bullet and make new habits & routines to get these things done, Break decluttering down into small tasks and do one a day, Shift mindset and realize doing these chores is a way I get to help support my family.
- Leisure: Join community choir, Plan a vacation, Talk to Travel Agent, Sign up for a tour, Ask friends and copy what they did.
- Family: Do Emotional & Mindset work, Take the initiative, Realize I can’t control their behavior but I can control mine.
- Health: Create a habit of Walking, Join a Gym & Stick to it, Eat Better – talk to a nutritionist.
- For example, this is what I wrote:
- Now – – of all the things you would like to change and all the things you could do to change them, pick out 3 you think would make the most impact on your life if you did them. You may feel they are all important – and they probably are. But pick only 3 to start with. More than that and you wind up feeling overwhelmed.
- I picked:
- 1) Improve my health by joining a gym
- 2) Improve my health by consulting a nutritionist to eat better
- 3) Deal with household tasks by creating a morning routine that includes doing some of them each day, especially De-Cluttering by getting rid of at least 1 thing per day
- I picked:
- Next – – for each of the 3 things you picked to work on, write down all the reasons WHY you want to do it. What will it mean to you if you do it? What will it do for your life? How will it make you feel if you do this? Why does that matter? Don’t just write down the first reason that pops into your mind. Dig deep and ask yourself WHY do I want this? And keep asking WHY until you feel you’ve gotten to the very core of why it’s so important to you. The last answer is your WHY.
- This is what I wrote:
- 1) I want to improve my health and join a gym because I want to feel strong and capable. Why? Because right now I feel tired and weak and have a lot of aches and pains. I want to feel strong and capable so I can enjoy traveling. Why? Because I’ve always wanted to travel. There are so many places in the world I want to see. Why? Because from the time I was little I’ve always been curious about what I would see if I just went “over there.” Why do this now? Because I’m 63 and running out of time. Because I don’t want to be on my deathbed and regret that I never did this thing that I most wanted to do.
- 2) I want to improve my health by eating better because I want to lose a little weight and have more energy. Why? Because I want to feel better in my clothes and I want fewer aches and pains. Why? Because I don’t want to end up sick and riddled with pain like my Mom was.
- 3) I want to get my household tasks done and de-clutter my home because somebody has to do it. Why? Because there are chores that need to get done in order to run my life and household. Why? Because I want to live in a comfortable, organized, and beautiful home. Why? Because it feels better in my soul to be surrounded by comfort and beauty.
- This is what I wrote:
- So…now you have your 3 goals and your three big WHYs. Write these in your journal or somewhere you can see them regularly. When you start to lose momentum (which happens to all of us!) re-read your WHYs. If it’s still important to you, recommit and get back to it! If it’s not, let it go. Your choice!
- Schedule these activities so you actually will do them. Really. Pick days and times you will do these things and write them in your planner or calendar. If you don’t schedule it, it probably won’t happen. Depending on what your goals are you may need to break them down into even smaller steps or tasks. And make them small enough so they feel absolutely doable! No overwhelm!!
- For example, I knew I wanted to join a gym a while ago but needed to do research to find one that would meet my needs and budget. I took my time and scheduled visits to check a few out and recently picked one. I just had my second session with a trainer to set me up with my program. I know from past experiences with gyms that I tend to start out all “gung ho” and wind up burning out and giving up. So I told him my goals and that I wanted to start by going only 2 days per week and the workout would take no more than one hour start to finish. And that’s what he set me up with. Now I’ve added this activity into my morning routine – – I plan to go on Tuesdays and Fridays at no later than 6:30 am, and I will take my walk on the other 3 days. (I allow myself freedom from structure on weekends…otherwise I tend to rebel!)
So, to recap – – Decide what you really want to do, Be clear on WHY you want to do it, Break it into small very doable activities, and Schedule time to do those things. No matter how tiny the steps are, as long as you keep taking them you will accomplish the things you want to do in your life. And won’t that feel awesome? It surely will.
IF IT WERE EASY, EVERYONE WOULD BE DOING IT!
Now I must tell you – – I am by no means an expert at this. In fact, it’s hard for me to make a plan and then stick to it. There’s a thing called “Resistance,” and other things called “Bad Habits.” (Those are topics for another day!) But every time I let myself get off-track I am determined to get back to it and continue on. Because I know that as long as I keep taking tiny steps forward I will eventually succeed. Every tiny step counts as progress!
RESOURCES THAT CAN HELP
There are several things that have helped me tremendously with this whole process of setting and achieving life goals and I continue to use these resources on a regular basis. I’m sharing them with you here because these people ARE experts. Check out the links below. And note – – these are NOT affiliate links and I get nothing in return for recommending them.
Marie Forleo’s free downloadable training on how to get anything you want.
You do have to give your email address, but I believe it is so worth it. She is SO inspiring! And her method really made all the difference for me.
Marie Forleo Training: How to Get Anything You Want.
The Day Designer Planner.
I’ve been using this for the past 4 years and I just ordered a new one for 2020. I’ve tried a lot of planners (I’m kind of a planner junkie) and I keep coming back to this one. It’s a little expensive, but it’s beautiful and a pleasure to use. And it fits the way my brain works.
The Morning Sidekick Journal by Habit Nest.
This journal is designed to help you create a morning routine habit that helps you get your day started in a positive and productive way. I love it! And they have a Facebook group that is super active and supportive.
Morning Sidekick Journal
The 5-Minute Journal by Intelligent Change.
I started using this about a year ago and liked it a lot. But then I discovered the Morning Sidekick and switched to that. Now that I’ve worked through the Sidekick I’ve decided to go back to this 5-Minute Journal.
The 5-Minute Journal
The Productivity Planner, also by Intelligent Change.
I actually just ordered this and it hasn’t come yet. (I told you…planner junkie!!) But it looks good and might help me stick to my plans better.
The Productivity Planner
DO I USE ALL THESE THINGS?
Right now, my plan is to use the Day Designer, 5-Minute Journal, and Productivity Planner all together. Why? Because the 5-Minute Journal helps me set my intention for the day, express gratitude, and review my day before bed. The Day Designer lets me plan my days and ToDos. And lastly, the Productivity Planner will, hopefully, help me stay focused on my most important tasks each day.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I’d really like to know your thoughts about this 2-part series of articles on life planning and goal setting. Did you use the Aspects of Life Workbook? Was this process helpful? Are you now working on implementing certain plans that you made? How’s in going?
Let me know in the comments below!