So, it is back to work for everyone after the long Christmas break – I can almost hear the groans of the nation as the all too familiar sound of the alarm wakes them again. But will this year be business as usual or will you be making the changes to your life and routine that will ensure you achieve your goals and live a life by design rather than accident? Forget New Years’ resolutions – the mere process of making resolutions seems to makes them something that we struggle to keep. Perhaps it is because it is focusing on something negative that we know that we need to change rather than focusing on positive changes that will make our life better?
So instead of making New Year’s Resolutions at this time of year I always take the time to review my 5-10 years goals and ensure that my purpose is still clear. I also like to reflect on what I need to maintain this year (as it made me successful last year), and what I need to do differently (as it hindered me last year). And to live the life that you really want, means making some guidelines to live life differently this year.
Below are a few life guidelines that we discuss on the RISE Women ‘s Development Programme that may help you make the changes you want, ensure you are more productive, on track with your goals, feeling better about yourself and loving the live you live in every sense.
Ensure Your Purpose is Clear
Define what your life goals are – where do you want to be in 10 years’ time? Will your life be by accident or design? Do you really understand your purpose, what you want to be known for, what you will have achieved in 10 years, and what your life will feel like? Being able to visualise this will make the difference between the certainty of really succeeding and the frustration of yet another year going past where you are coasting through without getting any closer to achieving your dreams.
Turn Your Vision into a Plan
Sometimes goals can feel so big and unobtainable that it is hard to know where to start and this can be why we end up giving up. Whatever it is you want to achieve needs to be turned into a realistic plan which you can chip away at regularly. In December 2017 a friend challenged me to walk a marathon for Cancer Research. I was completely unfit, had really bad knees and a work life that was so busy travelling around the world the idea of walking 5 miles, let alone 26 miles was inconceivable. But I broke it down into weekly and monthly goals, identifying how many miles I would walk each evening or each weekend until May 2018 when we walked the marathon through the night. We all know the importance of setting goals but often life takes over and we can lose sight of our goals so it is critical to set monthly, weekly and daily goals and review them regularly to check whether the goals are still desirable, meaningful and achievable.
Manage Your Own Expectations
Time to forget your To Do list. Research shows we just keep rewriting the lists, after we have picked off the things, we like doing! And the list never seems to get smaller. And do you often find yourself disappointing yourself with how much you achieved in a day, simply because you set your expectations far too high of what you could possibly achieve in a day. The biggest tip I ever heard for being productive was that each night before you leave work you should write down the 5 or 6 things that you MUST achieve the next day, in the order of importance. You then start on number one as soon as you begin work and every time you are interrupted you go back to it until it is done. At this point you then go on to the next on the list. If you complete the list you can always write another one but at least you have achieved the most important. And doing the “worst” job first on the list often spurs you to stop procrastinating.
Take a walk each lunchtime
I know you think you don’t have time! It is an irony when we are in a world where it feels that we can’t leave our desk for 2 minutes but it is clinically proven that having a break increases your productivity. And it isn’t wasted time – you can really use it productively, to solve problems, reflect on how you are doing, think creatively about things you would like to put in place but don’t have time to. Often, we become stuck in our thinking but it is proven that moving around can help to loosen the thinking and get our creative juices working, so even 20 minutes can make a difference.
Limit Social Media
Not Linked In or course, (this is an incredibly rich resource of learning!), but the hours spent on Facebook, Instagram and other social media is a massive time stealer. It also really stops you living in the present, distorts your feelings about life and creates all sorts of envy which is not realistic. I have a friend who posts about 15 times a day pictures of her babies, herself, her dogs and her food. Ironically each post mentions how crazy busy her life is and how she never gets time to do anything – says it all really. Why not try to live more mindfully and enjoy each day rather than constantly sharing it over social media.
Think of People with Good Intent
Everyone loves a good gossip but apart from being a complete waste of time it can lead to distorted thinking about people, unconscious bias, and other issues. Too often we receive emails, make a judgement on the intent behind it and start to talk to others in an ill-informed way about the sender. What if we thought about everyone with good intent and tried to understand more about the reason behind it? And set yourself a challenge of not being so critical – try to have a day without a negative comment about anything, you will find it is harder than you think! And what about that gossip. I heard about a model which is a good test for gossip – think about what you are going to say. Is it true? If it is just something you have heard then you don’t know it is true! Is it useful? Unlikely – most gossip is a waste of a good conversation. And finally, is it good? If what you are about to say about that person is good then it isn’t gossip it is praise so if it isn’t good then it is gossip! The TUG test is a good measure to apply to ensure that you are having productive conversations.
Apparently, what you bring to your attention becomes your reality so listening to too much complaining is bad for you. According to Trevor Blacke author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life, neuroscientists have learned to measure brain activity when faced with various stimuli including a long moaning session. A half hour of complaining every day physically damages a person’s brain according to research from Stanford University – whether you are moaning or listening, being exposed to negativity peels back neurons in the hippocampus – the part of the brain used for problem solving and cognitive function. So, if you are surrounded by complainers, or dare I say it, you are that negative person, you are completely abusing your mental energy.
So, there are a few guidelines above which I know are going to help me to achieve my goals in 2019 – what are your life guidelines for being successful in 2019?