In my two earlier posts, 6 Challenging questions to ask yourself right now and Reflecting on Success and Failure, we had a look at where we are at the moment and reflected on our successes and failures.
Now it’s time to get serious about what we want.
Here are some things to ponder over (and most importantly take action on).
Do you know exactly what you want?
Are you struggling with the feeling of this year just being more of the same?
The truth is you could be right – if you don’t do something about it.
If you have no goals, dreams or plans to make things different, exciting or adventurous it could easily just be another year where nothing significant happens.
Another year you don’t move forward.
A year where you get up to go to work, work at a job that pays the bills but you don’t really like, you buy lots of stuff to make up for the fact you are unhappy and then struggle to pay off your credit card debt.
You party on the weekend and then go back to work to pay for it all. Rinse and repeat until suddenly Christmas comes around again. Before you know it the year will be gone and you will be wondering what next year will bring.
I can tell you what it will bring – more of the same if you don’t do something.
The reason most people are stuck in this loop is that they don’t really know what they want or they are unsure how to go about getting it. They simply go with the flow hoping something good will happen to them instead of making great things happen.
What do you want?
If your first thought was to win the lottery, by all means, go out and buy a ticket.
My feeling is that you might need a backup plan (also known as an actual plan).
Sometimes people don’t make changes or try something bold because they simply don’t know what they want.
The truth is there are often a lot of options. Perhaps that is an issue for many people. They feel if they choose one option, they will miss out on another.
If you are stuck trying to work out what you want, ask yourself these questions.
What was it you used to dream about doing when you were a child?
Many of the things we dreamt about as children were wonderful childhood fantasies but there are also hidden gems of truth and inspiration to be uncovered. Admittedly your dreams of being an astronaut or a ballerina might not come to fruition, but there are probably a lot of other things you dreamed about doing that are now possible.
Dig deep for those nuggets of truth.
What would you do if you had no time or money restrictions?
This question usually reveals a lot because our first instinct on what we really want is usually hijacked by thoughts of I can’t afford it or I don’t have time.
With the current economic climate, there is no doubt money may be an issue. Lack of money or problems finding employment is a serious issue for a lot of people.
Yet it doesn’t mean we have to give up hope on working towards what we want. It may simply take longer to get there. Perhaps your plan is to have a holiday but you can’t afford it this year. That is okay as long as you start saving for your trip this year.
What would give you great joy, happiness, and satisfaction?
Happiness can mean different things to different people. Make sure you follow your own version of happiness and fun.
One thought though.
While you are planning your wonderful year, don’t forget the things that give you pure joy. Sometimes the simplest things or the things that are around us all the time that we take for granted can make a big difference.
I will give you a personal example. If I am procrastinating instead of writing, watching You Tube is a waste of time.
Yet spending time with my beautiful cat is never a waste of time. Spending time with him fills me with pure joy, love and often has me laughing out loud. It also places me firmly in the present moment which is a blessing.
Get realistic about what you want
If your answer to the what do you want question was travel the world, make a million dollars, find the perfect partner, stop smoking, exercise more, get a promotion at work, spend more time with family and friends and buy a new car you could have a bit of a hard time doing all of that in a short period of time.
Granted it’s not completely impossible but you will have a challenge on your hands squeezing it all in.
Money most likely will be an issue. Conflicting goals could also be a problem. Spending more time with family and friends might be difficult if you have to spend all your time working to get that promotion and make your million dollars.
It pays to get a bit more realistic about your goals (while still dreaming big at the same time).
Pick out the ones that are most important to you and focus on those. I talked about knowing your own values in a recent post. Have a close look at your values and work out which of your important goals are congruent with your existing values.
Understand goals and resolutions are different
It’s important to realize that there is a big difference between New Year’s Eve resolutions and goals. As you have probably heard most resolutions buckle by the beginning of February. Some have already gone belly up in January.
Resolutions are more like a fluffy wish. Admittedly some of them are very important, particularly if they are related to your health. For instance, giving up smoking is a resolution that should be taken seriously as it could add years to your life, instead of cutting your life short.
Goals, on the other hand, have different. Goals need to come with a plan. Say your goal is to get out of credit card debt (a fantastic idea by the way). Your plan will look something like this:
- Start living within your means.
- Stop using your credit card to buy things. Take it out of your wallet and leave it somewhere safe at home.
- Work out how much you owe and have a date set to pay it all off. By date, I mean an exact date as in the day, month and year. Saying some time in August/September won’t cut it. You need to be precise with your deadline, otherwise, you run the risking of running well over time.
- Work out how much you can set aside out of each pay to make the regular payments (obviously this amount will depend on how much you owe).
- Set up an auto-payment function so that the money is taken straight out of your account and paid on your credit card.
- Have a little celebration arranged for when you hit your date and are out of debt. Celebrate with cash, not credit.
This is merely an example but I wanted to illustrate that you need a process in place. Simply saying to yourself that you want to get out of debt will do squat without a plan to make it happen. The first gorgeous pair of shoes or whatever your shopping poison is will have you running for the cash register, all thoughts of being debt free long gone.
Remember you don’t have forever
I hate to sound harsh but this is the truth for all of us.
Being over 50, I’m only too aware that I don’t have forever.
Even the 20 something’s don’t have forever. I realize it’s hard to imagine but 20 years can fly by a lot quicker than you think!
Best to fill your years with the best life you can have instead of a boring, mediocre one.
Do you know what you want? Now is the time to go after what you want and grab it with both hands. On your mark, get set…go.
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