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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Great post Thea and as I was reading through it I was saying, that was me.
I never knew what I wanted to be when I was growing up. I had no childhood fantasies, nothing. Sad, I know it! I grew up a baby boomer with parents who lived through the depression so you can imagine the conversations at our home. I was put on a certain path and I didn’t know any better.
But as my life changed at the beginning of 2007 I made a choice to not return to the corporate world. I had no idea what I was going to do but I just knew I wanted more. I put all my faith in God that he would lead me in the right direction and he did. It was a struggle though but I wouldn’t change anything that I had to go through to get me to where I am today.
My recommendation is to just sit down and ask yourself some of the hard questions you just shared. What do you really want if money were no option. Where does your heart lie, what would you do with your life? All your answers are deep down inside and will eventually show themselves. You just have to want it bad enough to make it happen.
I’m living proof that you can have a better life when you never thought it possible at all.
I appreciate you sharing this as we all head into a new year and I hope you had a wonderful new year’s celebration. I wish you all the best in 2012 and may all your dreams come true.
So lovely to see you here again. Thank you for such a wonderful comment. Thank you for sharing some of your journey so far.
Yes, I can only imagine some of the conversations you must have heard when you were younger. Parents who lived through the depression would definitely have a different view on things.
We do have something in common when it comes to careers. I am an ex personal assistant as well. I only went to Grade 10 in high school (not sure what that is in the US) then it was off to secretarial school for a year then off to find a job. I think I would have been 16 turning 17 at the time. Finishing high school or going to University were never discussed, never an option. Being a secretary was common back then for women so that was it for me. Like you I did my best to climb up the ladder and ended up working for a CEO. I loved being able to help people and for a long time I really enjoyed being a personal assistant.
It wasn’t until I rediscovered my love for writing (it was something I always loved as a kid) that I realised I wanted something different.
Then I discovered blogging and well it just opened up a whole new world. You are right though it can be a struggle. The learning curve alone is wicked. I am not sure with blogging if you ever stop learning (which is a good thing of course). You do kind of get hooked on blogging though, I know I have, I really enjoy it.
I definitely know exactly what it is I want. My ultimate career goal is to be a successful novelist and popular blogger who just happens to travel overseas a lot (I do love my travel). Obviously this won’t happen overnight, lots of hard work between now and my ultimate goal. My plan is to work on the blog and other writing projects (both fiction and non-fiction) and build from there.
It is wonderful to read about someone as inspirational as you. It is great to see someone that has worked hard and made it happen and who is so lovely, smart and helpful. You are a true gem and I am so glad I found your blog. Come to think of it, it was Ruth Zive who recommended you, so a big thank you to Ruth is in order.
Thanks again for leaving this great comment and I look forward to chatting with you again soon. While we live a long way away from each other, I would love to have the chance to meet you one day, now that would be exciting!
All the best
I really enjoyed your post and your advice.
Actually, I think that one year ago I was like the person you describe: I didn’t really know what I wanted. I knew I was not happy but I wasn’t able to say why, to determine my goals and live better. A very important reason for that was the fact that I was afraid of thinking for my future, of dreaming, of demanding too much things in my life.
I grew up in a society where dreaming and planning for the future is supposed to be a bad thing: people believe that you never know if you are healthy and alive one hour from now, so planning for the future is like a blasphemy.
Anyway, the most important is that 2011 was the year that I realized all that and I found out what I really wanted for my life and I went beyond my fear: I started thinking and talking about my dreams. I decided to stop following other people’s actions and start choosing my own path for my life.
thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you my thoughts.
Thank you so much for your comment. Great to see you here again 🙂
Wow that would have been tough growing up in a environment where you could not plan for the future. Not having people who support you can be hard enough but that is a whole different ball game. Taking that into consideration, good on you for taking the bold step in 2011 of putting that all behind you and going after what you want. Incredibly brave of you!!! Make sure you pat yourself on the back and acknowledge what an amazing thing your have done by being so strong and courageous.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here, really appreciate it and I wish you all the success going forward.
I look forward to seeing you here again soon.
I wish you a happy New Year 🙂
Thank you for the great advice. I will definitely follow it.