Submitted by Juan P Rodriguez
Today I feel like posting about the New Year we all have ahead of us. It’s good to stop for a minute, take a step back, take a good look at where we stand and plan ahead for the future.
Whatever we did or did not do last year, whatever we finished or not, the most important thing to look at right now is where we are in respect to our goals and desired future. Last year has passed and there is nothing we can do about it. Today we have all of 2015 ahead of us and we should seek the opportunity to plan ahead and create our own future by achieving these year´s goals.
Have you written down you goals yet?
Have you taken the time to write your 2015 goals down? Are your goals long term, short term, no specified term? Do you know where you´re heading? Have you stopped to look at your finances, health, family, job or business, spirituality, love, etc.? If this is not something you have already done in these past 8 days, chances are very little you will actually do this in the remaining 357 days of 2015.
Therefore, here are just a couple of simple suggestions or tips you should follow in order to determine where you are, where you´re heading and what milestones you should aim for in order to achieve your 2015 goals.
Your reality: where I´m at right now
Step back, take a breather, change your perspective and see things as they really are, not better or worse. Be rational and critical but also kind to yourself. Try to get your ego out of the way so you can be objective with your criticism. Analyze what you see and put things in perspective.
So, for example, you could realize something in the lines of: I´m healthy but have not reached my targeted weight and cardio goals. My finances are good, I don´t owe money but they could always be better although I met my savings goal at the end of last year. With regards to family, all is well. I´m spending quality time with my kids and wife. Etc.
Again, be critical but kind to yourself. What I mean by kind is don´t judge yourself too hard. You know you´re not perfect but that does not mean you can´t improve. If you call yourself names, you´re destroying your self-image and nothing good comes out of that. Accept yourself as you are, with your strengths and weaknesses and thank your inner person for always watching out for you even if sometimes it messes up. When you´re being thankful, you can´t feel pity for yourself.
When you have a clear image of where you are, right it down as this will be your starting point. Make sure you don´t lose this as you will be taking a look at it from time to time during this year as you strive to reach your milestones.
Your future: where I would like to be at year´s end
Set a goal or a set of goals. Not too many but not too few. Look outside your comfort zone. If you think about it, there´s no point in seeking to achieve something we already know very well how to do (like being a couch potato). That is a challenge we have already achieved. Aim much higher and do not underestimate yourself or your abilities. Allow yourself to dream big. If you set yourself up for success, you can reach it but only if you allow yourself to stretch out of you comfort zone and actually work for it. People are immensely capable and incredibly resilient. People reach similar goals to yours every day and after doing so, they look to reach even more difficult ones. If they can do it, so can you.
Tomorrow morning, try to wake up 5 minutes earlier than you normally do. The first words that come out of your mouth should be a couple of affirmations to boost yourself up and start in the right vibe.
Repeat 10 times each affirmation out loud before you do anything else.
- I love myself
- I accept myself as I am
- I will make a great day out of today
- I will seek my future today
- I can
In the same place you wrote down your present state or where you´re at right now, write down your 2015 set of goals. Be very specific and number them in priority order where the number one goal would be the most important one followed by the second most important one and so on.
- Improve my health
- Lose 20 lbs.
- Be able to press 100 lbs. 10 times nonstop.
- Do 5 pull-ups
- Reduce my debt by 25%
- Zero debt in credit cards by years end
- Pay-off my car
- Stay up to date with my house payments
- Go out on a date with my wife at least twice a month
Execution: What I need to do in order to reach my goals?
So now that we have a framework to follow, we have to work hard to execute it. An entrepreneur can imagine an incredible business opportunity and go so far as to create a perfect business plan but none of that has any importance or true value to the entrepreneur if he does not go ahead and execute it. I read somewhere that the graveyard is the place where the most amounts of dreams, plans, inventions, music and art lay. This is because they remain in the thoughts of the diseased who never dared execute them.
A dream doesn´t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. Colin Powell
So how do we build a sky scrapper? One brick at a time. How do we walk a 100 miles? One step at a time. This is life, there´s no way around it. This is the most challenging aspect of creating your future, this is living. Some people might look at this from a negative perspective while most, if not all, successful people look at it from a positive perspective. This is the journey and you should enjoy it. There will be challenges in the way which will be hard to surpass but they will only make you stronger and wiser. At the end, when you finally reach your goal, the satisfaction of having done so will surpass any material thing you could ever buy.
Be diligent and stop listening to that inner voice that tells you to quit or to do it tomorrow. Ignore that little voice and just do it. Once you´ve started, if you´re really focused and passionate about your goals, you will see it through. Once you´ve finished it, you will fill great, you will know you can and you will be empowered to continue with the next task.
In order to manage your time and your responsibilities, try using a resource as simple as a notebook or as high tech as a cloud based tool such as Evernote. Find a system that works for you and make it as simple and replicable as possible.
Start by breaking down your goals into manageable mini goals. Determine how many mini goals comprise one specific goal. Since the year has 52 weeks, break down how many weeks you´ll have to work on each mini goal in order to achieve the actual goal. So, for example, if I were to plan for achieving my first priority goal through the year which is:
- Improving my health
- Lose 20 lbs. walk 25 minutes 5 times a week or 125 minutes per week
- Being able to press 100 lbs. 10 times nonstop If I´m starting at 60 lbs. press right now, then I could increment by 5 lbs. every 6 ½ weeks or seen differently 52 weeks divided by 8 increments of 5lbs. each. This way I should reach my goal by the end of week 52. So if I go to the gym 3 times a week, it should take me no more than 5 minutes to go through the press exercise. So that would be 3 days per week x 5 minutes per day, 15 minutes per week.
- Doing 5 pull-ups If I´m starting from zero, then I would have a little more than 10 weeks to work on getting the first one done, then a little more than 10 weeks to get two in a row, and so on. Every workout for the next 10 weeks I would strive to get that one extra pull-up. So If I work out 3 times a week, then I would dedicate at least 5 minutes to pull-ups on each work out or 15 minutes per week
So, in total, that would be 155 minutes per week to reach my specific goals concerning health. To put this in perspective, if you watch one hour of television per day, that would come out to be 420 minutes per week! If you think you´re short in time as it is, take a bite out of your TV watching and invest it towards your health. You will still have more than half an hour worth of TV watching per day left.
Now that you have broken down your goals in bite size pieces and have actually determined how much time you need to dedicate each one of them per week, sum up all the time you have set for goals per week and keep a record of this every day. At the end of the week, take a look at your record. If you successfully reached every mini goal you set yourself to do, then give yourself a check for that week. If this is not the case, do not give yourself a check that week. By giving yourself a check or not, depending of your results, you will keep track of your progress on a weekly basis and all the checks you accumulate will stimulate you to keep it up. Here we´re working on your discipline which after a couple of weeks will become second nature to you.
Be specific with your actions and the time you will allot for your goal seeking efforts on a daily basis. Remember, this is a yearly plan so everyday counts. I´m sure you can take a little time out of your weekend to invest in your future. So go after it, get to it, it´s there for the taking. You can have it if you really want it. Stop making up excuses and just start right now.
After having successfully gone through your first week, finish up on Sunday by planning your next week and replicate this as the weeks go by. Keep track of those checks and once in a while, congratulate yourself for every check you have accumulated and worked hard for.
Step 4 The Results: where I plan to be at in week 52
After all the hard work and diligent record keeping, now it´s time to reap the benefits. This is the fun part since besides the recorded achievement you have at hand; you can actually feel better about yourself for the simple fact that you finished what you started.
Account for your results. Did you lose the 20 lbs.? Where you able to press 100 lbs. at or before week 52? How about those 5 pull-ups? If you reached each and every one of your goals, the first thing you need to do is congratulate yourself, appreciate the fact that you made it, that you can, that you have control over your future and that you saw it through. Appreciate the fact that your clothing fits better, you´re stronger, healthier and more positive.
If you partially reached your goals, congratulate yourself for the effort you put into it. Feel proud that you dared to take the challenge; to get out of your comfort zone and that you were willing to sacrifice time and effort to your commitment. Take that opportunity to count your checks, look at how many out of the 52 you got and for your 2016 challenge commit to improving by completing your goals or at least improving from the results of 2015. By doing this, you are focusing on a goal and challenging yourself.
At the end, these result only matter to you. Whatever they were, praise yourself, believe in yourself and thank yourself. The only remaining thing to do at this point is… to start all over again for your 2016 goals.
Since this is not about luck, I won’t wish it to you. This is about wanting something bad enough that nothing will get in the way of you getting it.
Art by Flickr- Bronski Beat, Creative Commons