by Catherine Pratt
In order to change your life you need to make decisions about what you want and then take action. But do you find that you constantly make goals only to give up fairly soon after?
I used to make resolutions every January 1 but I haven’t made a New Year’s Resolution in a long, long time now. I haven’t because it seemed to just cause me great frustration that within weeks I would abandon whatever grand plans I had. It would make me feel like I was a failure and I thought, “Who needs that?”.
Looking back, I think part of the problem was that I usually made goals for something I thought I should improve about myself: lose a few pounds, stop biting my nails, etc. Things I should do but didn’t have a huge amount of desire to fulfill.
Also, to me a goal is something you want to achieve but once you’ve accomplished it, you’re done and then move on to another goal. For things like wanting to exercise more, to me it didn’t make sense to have a goal of going to more exercise classes because once I’d done them, then I figured I’d achieved my goal. So, basically, New Year’s Resolutions weren’t working for me and I stopped making them.
This year, I decided to try something a little bit different. Instead of making a goal, I’ve decided to make myself some “Life Directions”. The difference is this won’t be things I should “improve” about myself but instead this will be the direction I want my life to head. It’s also much more about taking the time to think about:
By thinking about these points first, I can then come up with
changes that I want in my life. It opens far more possibilities to me
and I’m enriching my entire life not just one facet of it. This is
different than having a goal. A goal would be having a very specific task I want to achieve. Having a direction is more about how to change
your life so that you are growing and learning and becoming the person you want to be.
You'll have goals but the goals will change as you move towards your direction. There’s far less emphasis on “failing” because it’s a direction. I think
it’s important to have a good idea of what type of life you want and
what you want to be doing in your life because if you don’t stop to
think about it then you’ll just end up reacting to whatever life brings.
Part of gaining confidence is being proactive to change your life in a
positive way rather than just reacting all the time.
If you want to change your life with a Life Direction, here are 7 tips to consider:
1. What do you want to do? What do you want to be?
It’s important to be clear as to what you desire. Think about the person you'd like to be. Would you be energetic, more of a free spirit, a kinder person, an adventurous person? Do you want to be a person that explores the world? Do you want a new job, do you want to buy a house? Do you want to be in excellent physical condition? How would you change your life? Think big here too. If you could do absolutely anything, what would you do?
Once you have your list, then think about whether your desire could be the result of something bigger. For example, if you say you want to lose 5 pounds, is what you really want is to be in the best physical shape you can be. You want to be in good shape so you can get the following results: lose 5 pounds, be less tired, fit in your favorite clothes again, etc. Losing the 5 pounds will be a result of your new life direction, not your actual direction. After you lose that weight, you will continue to have a life of being in excellent physical shape because that’s the type of life you want to have.
2. Be Specific
I used to make goals like: eat better, exercise more, get more organized. In order to know if what you're doing is working, you need to be more specific. What does eating better really mean, how much would be more exercise, etc? What will my life be like once I incorporate the new direction? You get the idea. If the concept is vague then you will be far less likely to achieve it.
3. Why do you want it?
A lot of goals we make for ourselves are because we feel they’re things we “should” do. We should eat better, we should exercise more. We hear it all the time. But, if it’s not something you really, really want to do or believe in, it’s not going to happen. Also, if you’re doing it for someone else or because you think you’ll get something in return for it (he’ll love me more if I lose weight), you’re probably also not going to stick to your new life direction. If you're going to change your life, it needs to be something that you really want to do for yourself.
4. Make a list of benefits
Make a list of why you want your life to go in this direction. If it’s to be more organized then why do you want to be more organized? For example: to not waste time looking for things, to be able to clean your home faster, to have more time to do the things you want, etc. If you have a list then on those days when you’re not feeling very motivated, the list will remind you why you started in the first place. It may even remind you of how far you’ve come from when you first started.
5. What is distracting you from accomplishing your path?
Joseph Garcia’s theory from the book, “The Motivated Mind” is that we don’t follow through with our goals because there is something more attractive in the not doing than there is in the doing.
For example. Eating better. Easy to say, not so easy to do. If I decide I want to eat better I am distracted from my goal by comfort food. Yes, the thought of eating better means I have to give up comfort food. Hard to do in the cold of winter. But, again following his ideas, I had to think more about why I want to eat better. Look better, have more energy, just feel better, be able to get out and enjoy things like mountain biking, fit my clothes better etc. You start giving yourself more reasons to want to change your life than to want the negative attraction. It makes it far easier to not give in to temptations when you keep reminding yourself of what you're going to gain in the long run by continuing to move forwards with your life direction.
6. Start small
Sometimes we lose track of what direction we want to go in because we’ve made it too big for ourselves. Break it down into steps and make sure you start with something simple. For example: remove junk food from house, stop buying lattes on the way to work or check out a pilates course at a local recreational centre. Something that’s easy to achieve and gets you started in the right direction. Keep yourself moving in the direction you want to go. Small steps on the way to change your life will soon lead to your ultimate goal.
7. It’s a direction not a destination
If you make your goals to be a direction you want to head in, then it will be easier to keep going after you have a “bad” day. For example, if one day you binge on a whole box of chocolate chip cookies, you won’t feel like you failed because you know it’s this is just a temporary thing. This isn’t the life you want to lead and you can start again tomorrow. Just be careful of saying that too many times. In order to change your life you need to keep going on the right path. A few slips back to your old habits is fine as long as you keep your motivation strong as to where you eventually want to end up. You now have a direction of where you want to go. Enjoy the journey.
Making a Life Direction is a way to really change your life for the better. You’ll have a much better idea of what you want in your life as well as how to go about achieving it. You can do it. You can change your life. It's as simple as making a Life Direction.
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