Resolutions vs. Goals

dreamstime_xs_92607184I’m not a resolutions person.  It seems that too often I make a resolution at the beginning of the year to do something big, set it aside, and never look at it again.  For me, resolutions are passive because I don’t act on them.

I prefer goals.  For me, goals are active.  First there is goal-planning and then developing strategies for goal-implementation.  Goals, or at least strategies, are also active in that they are fluid.  They change.  If one strategy doesn’t work, I try something different.  If many strategies don’t work, then I look at whether I need to change the goal.

The important thing, of course, is that we accomplish what we want.  If making resolutions work for you, great.  If goals work better for you, that is great as well.  Do whatever works for you to make 2018 the year you want.

Use the Back of Your Brain

dreamstime_xs_62496032When I was in college it always took me awhile to complete the research for papers.  The major reason was that I always found so many interesting studies to read.  They might not have been relevant for the paper I was writing, but it was hard to resist reading them anyway.

One related to brain functioning.  It said that either the subconscious or unconscious (I forget which—or maybe it was both—let’s call it the back of the brain) was always working.  Since it was always working, we might as well have the conscious part of our brain (let’s call it the front of the brain) tell the back of the brain what we wanted it to do.

I was going to college full-time and working 30-40 hours a week to pay for college.  I needed all the help I could get to make best use of the time I had, so I started experimenting with this.  I would tell the back of my brain things like: “I have to write a paper on XYZ.  What should I include?  How should I organize it?”  Then I would work on other things for a day or two.  When I sat down to work on the paper, the information flowed.  I had much more information than I ever had when I tried to write something “cold.”

The more I used this technique, the better it worked.  I still use it.

For example, a few days ago I had the idea that this topic would make a good blog.  If I had sat down and tried writing it the minute I had the idea, I would have struggled.  Instead, the front of my brain told the back of my brain to work on this idea.  Now, the thoughts are pouring out, faster than I can type.

I use this for large projects, such as writing books.  With a book, I tell the back of my brain to work first on the overall concepts and content of the book and as I start writing, I tell it to work in more detail on the next chapter.  It works!  I have more trouble finding time to write than I do in getting thoughts on paper once I have time to do it.

I also use this for little things such as planning parties, holiday dinners, and vacations.  People comment on how organized I am.  To a large degree, I think it is because I use the back of my brain to work on things while the front of my brain is focused on other items.

If you don’t already do this, I suggest that you try it.  If it works, you might find that you are more productive.  If it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost a thing.

 

Aim Higher

Blog Drawing SquareI recently attended my 40th high school reunion.  During a conversation with a friend since elementary school (not an old friend—neither of us are old!) I was reminded of something one of the high school guidance counselors told me many years ago.  He explained it differently than I will here, but the concept is the same.  (Since we were face to face, he could talk with his hands as well.  That doesn’t work so well in a blog.)

Imagine a vertical line.  Near the top of the line is point A.  Around the middle is point B.  Near the bottom is point C.  He said that he would rather see students aim for point A and only achieve point B than to aim for point C and achieve it.  Even if they don’t achieve point A, by achieving point B they will have achieved more than if they settled for point C from the beginning.

At the time, I couldn’t begin to realize how important that concept is.  At least I grasped enough that it encouraged me to go for a bachelor’s degree rather than an associate degree after graduating high school.

I hate to admit it, but there have been times in my life when I did not try for point A because I did not think I could make it.  Sometimes I aimed for point B and got it, but sometimes I settled for point C when I could have done more had I aimed higher.

Have you done this?  Are you doing this now?  Could you achieve more if you aimed higher than you thought you could achieve?  What could your life be like if you did?

Did You Do Better?

dreamstime_xs_83897954When we tell ourselves that we did something well, that’s positive.  Maybe we did well in an interview, in a discussion, or in confronting an employer, employee, or customer.  Maybe we did well in something that benefits our health, such as exercising.  Maybe we handled a difficult situation with a friend or family member with respect.  When we give ourselves credit for doing something well, that helps our self-esteem and helps us to do well again.

Sometimes, though, we do not do well.  We handle a situation poorly.  Unfortunately, when this happens we sometimes focus too much on how poorly we did.  We then sometimes extend that into other areas.  If we are bad at “A” then we must be bad at “B,” for example.  This, of course, hurts our self-esteem and makes it more difficult to do well next time.

When we do not handle a situation well, or do not do as well as we could at something, it’s important to recognize it and learn what we can from it.  But it doesn’t do us any good to beat ourselves up over it.

A question that helps me is, “Did I do better than I normally do?”  If the answer is “yes” then I know that at least I am improving and can do even better the next time.  It encourages me to keep trying rather than giving up.  As long as I am progressing, there is a good chance that eventually I will do well in that situation.

Often it is not a matter of doing “good” or “bad” but doing “better.”

Beginning and Ending of the Year

dreamstime_xs_59251764The beginning of a new year is a good time to review where we are, where we want to go, and how will we get there.

Something else of value is to compare the end of the year with the beginning of the same year and see if anything changed.

How does where you were in your professional and personal life at the end of 2016 compare with where you were at the beginning of 2016?  Did you go where you wanted to go?  Did you achieve what you wanted to achieve?  Why or why not?

What do you have to do differently in 2017 to make the end of 2017 different from the beginning?  Now is the time to develop and implement a plan.

To Create 2017, Learn from 2016

dreamstime_xs_63165764Many people make New Year’s resolutions.  Many of those who make resolutions do not achieve them.

I think one reason is that many of us do not learn from the old year.  What did we do?  Why did we do it?  Did our decisions and actions achieve the results we wanted?  If not, what could we have done differently?  What worked, what didn’t?  What have we learned?

If you truly want to achieve your goals for 2017, I suggest you first think very strongly and clearly about 2016.  Use that knowledge to develop goals and plans for 2017.

May you learn from the old to create the new!

Chasing Squirrels

dreamstime_xs_43448794I like dogs, or, more accurately, I like dogs I know and I don’t dislike dogs in general.  I’m more of a cat person.  I can appreciate, though, how dogs get distracted by the smallest things, such as squirrels.  No matter what the dog is doing, a squirrel shows up, and boom—she’s off chasing it.  (Okay, cats are basically the same.  We just can’t see some of the things that distract them.)

Unfortunately, we humans often “chase squirrels” as well.  We can easily become distracted from what we need to do to achieve our goals.  Little things constantly come up, and boom—we’re off chasing them.

If we want to achieve the professional and personal life that we want, it is important that we stay focused on our goals and ignore the “squirrels” that constantly chatter at us.  It’s acceptable to tell people “no.”  It’s acceptable to let unimportant things slide.  And although some squirrels are fun to chase, does doing so help you reach your goals?

Are you a squirrel chaser?  Could you achieve more if you ignored those darn squirrels?

2016 and Beyond

dreamstime_xs_489283562015 is completed.  It’s over.  Did you do what you wanted?  Did you accomplish what you planned?  Did you position yourself to be where you wanted for 2016?

If yes, congratulations!  That is fantastic!

If no, then take what you can learn from it and move on.  That’s all any of us can do.  It’s a waste of time to moan about it or berate ourselves for it.  Decide what you can do differently this year and do it.

What do you need to do in 2016 to position yourself to where you want to be in 2017?  2020?  2030?  Setting goals for the upcoming year is great.  But to really climb to where we want to be in life, we need to plan further out.  If you want to finish a degree in five years, what do you need to do this year to make it happen?  If you want to retire in ten years, what do you need to do this year to make it happen?

What do you need to do this year, next year, and the next, to achieve the life you want?

Accomplishing Your Dreams

Accomplishing Your Dreams (Video Link)

dreamstime_xs_38167609Previously we discussed that commitment is what turns a daydream into a dream. Creating and implementing a plan is what turns a dream into reality.

We can tell ourselves that we are committed to a dream. Unless we create and implement a plan to make that dream a reality, however, we are not really committed.

How committed are you to your dreams? What are your plans for achieving them? How far have you progressed in implementing your plans?

Dream or Daydream?

Dream or Daydream? (Video Link)

dreamstime_xs_29004175We hear a great deal on how we should never give up on our dreams. I think it is extremely important, however, to determine if they are dreams or just daydreams.

Daydreams serve a purpose. They are fun. They can get us thinking about “what ifs.” If nothing else, they are cheap entertainment.

The difference between a daydream and a dream is commitment. If we are not committed to turning our dreams into reality, then it is just a daydream.

For example, I had a daydream since I was a child to go to Ireland. It remained a daydream until I made the commitment to make it happen. When I committed the time to planning and going on the trip and the money to pay for the trip, then it moved from a daydream to a dream. Finally, the dream became a reality.

What dreams do you have? Are they truly dreams, are you committed to them, or are they daydreams? If they are daydreams, do you want them enough to make the commitment to turn them into dreams, and ultimately into reality?