“Analyze your life closely, frequently. You will eventually find it difficult to misuse it.”
Image from Unsplash by William Iven
Every December, usually over the holidays, I do an assessment of the past year as a way of acknowledging my efforts and progress, and to set the stage for a new year of personal and professional growth.
The process of developing greater mindfulness and self-awareness can become an essential skill. It helps to not only avoid missing the gift of life, but also in learning to make the most out of each day we are blessed to receive.
Take three to five minutes to answer any or all of the questions listed here. Consider doing this with a friend, family member, colleague, or coach, to gain the social support to have this exercise make a significant and sustainable difference:
- What did you accomplish in 2017?
- What were your biggest disappointments?
- What were your most significant lessons?
- Where are you currently limiting yourself?
- What goal areas do you intend to emphasize in the year ahead?
A few resources you may wish to explore for extra credit include:
Your Best Year Yet by Jinny Ditzler
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell
Perfectly Yourself by Matthew Kelly
Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
“Faith that the thing can be done is essential to any great achievement.”
—Thomas N. Carruthers, late bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
Image from hbr.org
Over the past year, I have noticed a growing trend in many of my clients who work for large corporations. It has become increasingly apparent that the goals set for them go far beyond the usual “stretch” goals, to a level of the unreasonable and unbelievable.
What remains for many of these folks are feelings of upset, discouragement, hopelessness, and even anger.
Genuine faith that a goal is achievable is essential to empowering all of us to give our best to the task at hand.
Where can you collaborate and create shared goals, to maintain and encourage the faithful beliefs and actions that the goals will be fully realized?
“Are you following a path, or blazing one?”
-Michael Bungay Stanier, Sr. Partner of Box of Crayons
Image from Flickr by Vinoth Chandar
We are all creatures of habit. Just take a look at a typical day to explore all of the routines and rituals that engage your time.
The good news is that habits are often extremely helpful in that they usually provide us the necessary momentum to pursue and achieve many of our goals.
On the other hand, new goals that we passionately desire rarely come to fruition because we continue to follow our current path, using familiar strategies and tactics.
Where and on what personal or professional goals is blazing a path the thing to do to achieve what you most desire? What new and different behaviors and attitudes will be required to do so?
“There’s no such thing as overachievers; there are only under estimators.”
Image from pass-it-on.tumbler.com
What is your potential for achievement? Perhaps the better question is, “What is your perception of your potential?”
People never simply luck out and exceed their expectations. They have to work at it.
Too many people, on the other hand, have a more limited or modest view of what they can achieve. Even if they hit their mark, they are often shooting at a less than optimal target.
Where in either your personal or professional life is it appropriate, even necessary, to stretch and overestimate your capabilities to achieve your most highly desired objectives?
“Well begun is half done.”
—Cited by Aristotle as an ancient proverb
Image from Data49
When was the last time you were super satisfied with something you had done or accomplished? Take a few seconds to bask in the joy and pleasure of that event.
What would it be like to feel that way all the time, or at least more often?
What gets in the way?
We all know that putting things off acts like an anchor on our lives. Not only do we not achieve what we deeply desire, but most of us do a good job of beating ourselves up about it. That places an even bigger and darker cloud over our lives.
Select at least one personal or professional project you will initiate and follow through on today to experience the satisfaction and exhilaration of Aristotle’s coaching.
“How will you measure your life?”
—Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business Professor
Today’s quote stopped me in my tracks and caused me to sit down to examine its profundity. I then watched Mr. Christensen’s TEDx Boston talk from 2012, to see what this Harvard Professor had to say.
This is a question we must all answer for ourselves, based on many factors. I looked at the personal and professional achievements that measured me against others, and more importantly, against myself. My conclusion here was that personal development and growth have always been measuring sticks for me. What became more of a priority for me was the measure of family, and the development of close, collaborative relationships. In this area, contribution and making a difference in people’s lives was paramount.
When Clayton stated, in his talk, that God does not employ accountants and statisticians, I wondered what I’d like people to say upon my passing. This caused me to set about my efforts far more intentionally, so that I might fulfill my purpose.
Explore setting up a discussion group within your personal and professional communities to ask and answer this question for yourself.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and what you discovered.
“The future is purchased by the present.”
—Dr. Samuel Johnson, 18th Century English Poet
Image from specialneedsparenting.net
Evidence has shown that there is a high correlation between an individual’s ability to delay gratification, and their long-term level of achievement.
All one need do is examine masters in almost any endeavor to see the level of effort and amount of time it took for them to achieve what they desired. Some traded large pieces of their lives for a potential pot of gold at the end of the line. This can often be the case when people work tirelessly in vocations and careers they don’t enjoy.
Those who are attuned to their vision and value often find the courage to take bold actions. Their efforts in pursuing their dream becomes like compound interest on the daily investments they make.
How can you lead an even more fulfilling life by having your present professional and personal efforts be their own reward, and not just a means to a future you hope for some day?
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not in fighting the old, but on building the new.”
—Socrates, Classic Greek Philosopher
image from bigfishmedia.ca
When I consider the idea of fighting the old ways of doing things, I think of the phrase, whatever we resist persists. Notice how some of your own less-than-desirable habits or behaviors seem to stick around no matter how much you try to fight them off. The act of building things is much like a replacement strategy where we insert what we desire into our lives instead.
What would be the biggest difference in your personal or professional life if you stopped fighting the old and started building the new?
“You can either throw in the towel, or use it to wipe your sweat.”
Image from getyourbridebody.com
When was the last time you had a really rigorous workout? You know, the kind that makes your muscles burn, makes you gasp for air, and drenches you in sweat?
Where do you, or have you, demonstrated similar efforts in your personal or professional life?
How often do you give things your all? With what frequency do you merely put in enough effort just to get by? How often do you throw in the towel and give up completely?
What are the key tasks or priorities in which you could dig deeper, make a stronger commitment, or break more of a sweat?
With whom can you partner to coach, encourage, and challenge you to give these goals your very best?