It's that time of the year again. New resolutions, goals and to-do lists.
My life goal is death. I don't mean that in a morbid sense but in a that's-where-we're-all-headed sense. It's what Stephen Covey meant when he said to "begin with the end in mind." Ultimately, our life goals are what we want to have accomplished when we die. But on a day-to-day basis, it's sometimes a challenge.
For instance, my goals for this year are: Eat less sugar, drink less caffeine, eat more vegetables, exercise more, blog more, do more marketing, engage in social media more, be a better husband, be a better father, study my devotionals more, ride my motorcycle more often, eat less sugar (really hard goal), do more research, write more humor, book more speaking engagements, write a new book, read more, connect more with clients, ride my mountain bike more often, build a new house, and... have more time to relax and enjoy life.
These are admirable goals and probably look similar to your goals for the year. If I was to succeed at half of them, I'd be pleased. But honestly, just looking at this list makes me want to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head.
We often fail to achieve our goals for the year because we're overwhelmed by the sheer number of them or the amount of change they require. Then, we get to the end of the year, or worse yet the end of our lives, and we regretfully see the many opportunities for improvement that we missed.
After spending many years in the personal development world, here's what I know:
- There are some things in life that are out of our control. Let them go.
- There are many areas in our lives that can be improved. This is where we focus our efforts.
- We can get better at many things -- if we choose to do so. It requires taking responsibility.
- Most improvements start with small changes and the discipline to maintain them. Take one step at a time instead trying to tackle the entire staircase.
- If we try to take on too much, we will most likely fail. We don't need to overwhelm ourselves and then be discouraged by failure.
So, when it comes to self improvement goals, where should we focus?
Essentially, we are physical, social, psychological and spiritual beings. We can make small changes in any of those areas and experience dramatic improvements in our lives.
Physical: The research is clear that exercise and a healthy eating is good for us. We're stronger, have more energy and are able to fight off serious illnesses.
Social: There is also evidence that the better our relationships with friends and family, the better we function and the longer we live.
Psychological: Our psychological or emotional wellbeing affects everything we do. Psychological challenges are normal and that's why therapy and counseling are excellent ways to keep our heads on straight so we can handle the day-to-day stresses in life.
Spiritual: For many of us, spirituality is an important foundation in our lives. Feeding our spiritual selves, the same way we feed our physical selves, helps us to get out of a self-centered existence and put our role in this life in the proper perspective.
As you go into the new year, consider which of these areas you would like to improve. Be honest and don't fool yourself into thinking that you don't need any improvements. But then, be practical and reasonable. Pick two or three things on which you want to focus.
For example, add a vegetable to diet.
Walk around the neighborhood.
Turn off the television and talk to your spouse.
It doesn't have to be complicated. As Nike says, you just have to do it.
My belief is that when we improve, we feel better. And when we feel better, life is richer. And when life is richer, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.
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