The New Year allows us to throw away old calendars and start fresh with a blank canvass for each new month ahead. We make resolutions in our minds to change and improve. We make verbal commitments to ourselves and then we give ourselves a hard time when we don’t measure up. We label ourselves a failure by mid February and convince ourselves that it is all too hard and new years resolutions are a stupid idea anyway!
“Life is difficult.” This is the first sentence written by Scott Peck in his famous book The Road Less Travelled. And do you know what? He’s right!
Life IS difficult…
- Sticking to new years resolutions is difficult;
- Changing bad habits is difficult;
- Being positive and productive every day is difficult.
Once we accept this and give ourselves a reality check, we can begin to see that one small step towards a fulfilling purpose each day is better than huge goals that overwhelm and finally defeat us. So as you start 2016 be proud of the fact that you at least want to set some higher standards for yourself and keep a few of the following suggestions at the front of your mind if you want resolutions with real results…
Be REALISTIC with your expectations of yourself and others.
When our expectations are based on wishful thinking we often end up disappointed and frustrated. We love the idea of instant gratification, which may appear to bring temporary gain, however, most successful people will tell you that they got to where they are because they embraced hard work and were guided by integrity, honesty and trust in their dealings and relationships.
Seeing life in terms of what is realistic for you in your situation does not mean that you can’t dream. In fact, as long as your dreams are in harmony with these universal principles, being realistic will be what empowers you to fulfill them. The key is to recognise the obstacles that you face in achieving your goal and then set out to overcome them.
Proactive people accept responsibility for their own work, thoughts, feelings, actions and life. They act based on their values and from a victory mindset, rather than reacting to events or circumstances out with their control. Proactive people focus their time and energy on what they can influence and let go of what they can’t. They seize opportunities and take action to make things happen. Proactivity is the basis of all satisfaction: personal, organisational and societal.
There are so many distractions in our daily life at work and home. It is essential to know what the most important thing is, focus on it and do it undisturbed to the best of your ability. Be aware of what contribution you want to make to each given situation and let others know what you plan to do and when you will do it, so they accept that you will not be distracted until that one task is complete. It’s easy to confuse activity with work, and to be deluded into thinking you’re working by sheer busyness.
Be A TEAM BUILDER
Begin thinking about what you do in terms of alignment and leverage. Don’t waste time or money on activities that don’t promote your dreams and goals. And make sure you maximize the results from every minute and every dollar you spend. Use teamwork by including family members or colleagues in your plan. Teams can maximize strengths and compensate for weaknesses in achieving shared goals. Group work also encourages us to discover and appreciate the talents of others and celebrate shared success.
The only time you can afford to coast in life is when you’re rolling downhill. To be a top worker, strive for continuous improvement. Seek feedback and truly listen. Invest in personal development: read books, listen to podcasts, hire a coach, take classes and attend seminars. Review your mission statement and strategy regularly. Track your expenses over the previous week. Compare actual spending to your budget. Celebrate victories, however small, and discuss with others what you’ve learned and how you can continue to improve.
The difference is not in what you do, but in why and how you do it. You don’t have to have the most high profile, glamorous job or to love the work itself, to feel accomplished. When you align your work with your talent without sacrificing important priorities, that’s happiness. Working in your area of greatest strength enables you to maximize your contribution and achieve success and great satisfaction.
Even when we are acting in alignment with our goals and using leverage, life is unpredictable. We all face challenges and opportunities everyday. We need to be discerning when something unexpected happens to know if it is an opportunity or an opposition. Is it just another distraction, will it help us achieve our goal or help the person promoting it achieve their goal? Success in life balance is more than just planning and executing, it is also about learning to make good choices and this comes from experience and experience brings wisdom. Wisdom empowers you to weave work, family, money and time into a satisfying balance. You can study principles and read about the experiences of others, but the place where you will truly develop wisdom and discernment is on your own journey.
Often we can view work and family as enemies, competing for our time. But it wasn’t always that way. Before the industrialisation of society, families worked together. Children learned from their parents and took over work as they grew. Much work was done in or near the home, so work was a bonding experience for parents and children. Since modernisation, paid work has been taken outside the home, and work inside the home has been devalued. Children, instead of working side-by-side with their parents, have become pampered consumers.
With a little imagination, you can rebuild some of the links between work and family. Help your children understand the connection between work, income and meeting family needs. Try to explain your job to your children. If possible, take them to work so they can see where you go everyday. Talk about positive aspects of your work and share good experiences.
True balance requires a synergy, not a chasm. Building bridges between work and home is the key to a life of balance.
The direction in which you are headed as a family is far more important than where you happen to be at any one moment. As in all things, the way you see family will determine the quality of your experiences. You might see work as the place where you contribute and look forward to coming home to ‘crash’. But parenting is a constant challenge, relationships take effort and housework is hard work.
Real joy and fulfillment come from fully giving yourself to your family, working for them and sacrificing for them. When you see both work and home as avenues of contribution and satisfaction, you can move beyond compromise and make work and home complementary.
Why not create a family mission statement? You can ask questions like ‘what do you like best about being a family?’, ‘what do you think our most important values should be?’ It may take many discussions to distil the answers into a single unifying statement. This powerful statement can bring your family together with a sense of shared vision.
Creating consistent family time to connect with each other can be difficult given all the demands on our time. However, it is worth the effort. Family weekly or monthly meetings become a time of bonding, communication, teamwork and stability. Why not end the meeting by playing a board game together for half an hour, that way it is also fun. And don’t forget to date your mate at least once a month. Enjoy a treat together and use this time to recharge your marriage and clarify your goals.
One of the greatest gifts you can give is time. Do you see time as the enemy? Do you wish you could stop time, slow it down or rush it forward? Does it make you feel helpless, frustrated and anxious?
Does the way you spend your time reflect what’s most important to you? Do you track how you use your time, and how you could use it more effectively? Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, so how come some people are relaxed and successful, while others are not? I have mentioned the importance of being aware when distractions come along as well as the need for focus, the third element necessary to stop time running away from us, is planning in advance. Some people I know divide their day into one hour slots, why not try it.
Money, like time, is an important communicator of value. It is inseparably connected to each of the life matters already discussed. Consider how much time you spend earning money, spending money, managing money and resolving relationship problems caused by money. Improving your ability to manage money will make a significant difference in every other area of your life. Your success in dealing with money is not just about planners and balance sheets. Attitude is crucial. People who deal effectively with money see it in terms of importance and investing rather than urgency and consuming.
Examine your expectations about money closely. Is money an emotional issue for you? Based on how you spend your money, what would people assume are the most important things in your life? How much money do you really need to live a balanced, peaceful life?
The issue of money is clouded by many popular myths and media images. But these are illusions. It’s easy to get hooked on symbols of wealth – fancy homes, cars and designer clothing. Often, however, these symbols are purchased through high levels of debt. A high consumption lifestyle does not necessarily equate to real wealth or financial security. Symbol is not substance. Most people who have accumulated wealth invest about twenty percent of their income into wealth creating assets. People who are good with money know exactly where their money goes. How are you currently spending your money? Not sure? Look at your receipts, check your bank statements and write down all your expenses.
Where do you want your money to go? Create a clear and shared vision (with your partner at home or business) of where you want your money to go. Lacking this vision causes much of the stress involved with money, work and relationships. Spending decisions can become shocking, divisive and a source of hidden pain. Start by making a list of your financial goals. Identify your top five and prioritise them. Create a financial strategy statement that sets out your goals and how you plan to achieve them. Look for ways to grow your money and put them into action.
When re-writing your new year resolutions don’t forget to incorporate goals for both your body and your mind. They are so intrinsically connected that when one is out of balance it adversely affects the other. My essentials are: clean drinking water, whole foods, exercise, affirmations, prayer & meditation, volunteering, reading, sleeping and smiling.
And finally just be true to yourself. Be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity and trust. Plan what you can. Start with just one area of your life and be proactive. One simple, manageable action every day will move you forward and most important of all ENJOY each new day of 2016.