Journaling Exercise: Preparing for the New Year

 

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It’s fashionable to make a New Year’s resolution, and it’s just as fashionable to not keep them. Every year, around this time, people start proclaiming amazing things they are going to achieve in the new year.

Quit smoking, quit a job they hate, be nicer to their spouse or family, write the book they were always going to write, lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, learn a new language, and many other things make the list. By the time February arrives, and the new year is not feeling quite-so-shiny, the New Year’s resolution is as distant as the memories of how stuffed we were on Christmas Day. 

I don’t make resolutions. I make goals. You can start you goals any time, but there is something tidy about starting a new year with new goals, or at least by revisiting old goals. But instead of proclaiming them on January 1st, if you start with a little bit more thought and planning, your chances of success are much higher. If you want your goals to be something that you actually achieve, rather than something that you only talk about at the New Year Eve’s party, then do this exercise.

Step 1

Step 1 for anything is to look at your starting position. Where are you right now in life? What areas or things in your life are you most dissatisfied with? Which areas need improvement? What areas need simple maintenance? Be as detailed and as specific with these as possible. You need to have an absolutely clear picture of where you are. Only by having a clear awareness of where you are, you can plan the best route possible for where you want to be.

Step 2

Now that you know where you are in life, and what things you are most dissatisfied with, you can decide on things you want to change the most. For this step, list everything you want to change. Don’ t worry if this list gets big. Just ensure that everything you want to change is written as a goal – which should be a positive statement (focus on the result you want to achieve, not merely on what you don’t like), and it should be a clear objective (For example: I want to lose 20 pounds – NOT: I don’t want to be fat)

Step 3

Once you have a list of everything you want to change, pick 3 things. Focus on 80/20 principle. Pick the items that will have most impact on your life. If by changing one thing you can improve your life by 40%, then it is better to focus on that, as opposed to 10 other things which might only improve your life by 10%. Pick 3 things, or 4 at the most that you will change during the new year. It’s easy to get over enthusiastic and over ambitious. I am all too often guilty of it myself. But by focusing on a few things, you can better ensure that you achieve all of those goals, and so you will have achieve more at the end of the year, then if you start out with a handful of goals that you don’t have time to focus on.

Step 4

Write down a neat and tidy list of your 3 or 4 goals for the new year. Remember, they should be clear, specific, and positive. Make them as short and pithy as possible.

Step 5

Start working on them. Action is the only way to progress. Now that you know what you want to achieve, don’t hang around waiting for a good day to start. Start now. And every single day, make sure you spend at least 15 minutes working on at least one of your goals. 

This is not rocket science. Working on your goals is a simple thing, and simplest of things are often the hardest because they require discipline and will power. If you are determined to do something more with your 2014, then those two things: discipline and will power – are the two main tools you need. 

 

 

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How To Make Sure You Are Always on the Right Path in Life

 

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image by vainsang

 

At one point or another, we’ve all wondered, “Am I on the right path?” It’s a scary question, because the only time we ask this question is when we are NOT on the right path, or when we are falling over, and collecting bruises. 

While there are no doubt some people who find their one true path in childhood, for most of us, the right path in life takes quite a few turns. Your right path may not be at 40 or 50, what it was 20. And that’s okay. Evolution is part of human nature. Some people’s lives need more dramatic evolution than others’. The point here is not that you remain forever on one, unchanging path. The point is that you remain always on a path that is right for you at any given time in your life. 

I’ve found a simple exercise for this. Be warned however that EACH of the step listed below is crucial to be absolutely sure that you create a compass of your own that will always guide you in the right direction.

TIMING

This is absolutely essential. This exercise must be done at the right time. 

What is the right time?

When you are at your most clear, balanced self. Don’t do this if you are experiencing really heightened emotions whether happiness or sadness. You must feel at ease with your self. Serenity is not required, but there should be some semblance of calm, of being in quiet waters. This is when your mind and your perceptions are at its clearest. This clarity is essential to do this exercise, because what you create will aid you when you are experiencing heightened emotions, and not sure what to do, and having doubts about your path. 

MAKE A LIST

When the time is right, as per above, sit down and make a list of things you want. This is how my 40 things to do before 40 list came about. I made that list when I was under no pressure, and not feeling obligated to do things because other people might want me to, or to make someone else happy. This list is my ideal list of things that are important to me. They are true to who I am. Now, whenever I find myself confused about decisions and wondering if I am moving in the right direction, all I have to do is look at that list, and I know where I want to be headed for this decade of my life.

You don’t need to make a decade long list. You don’t have to have 40 things. You can have whatever kind of list you want, and however long. But if you are focusing on the life path, it makes sense to have things that are looking at least five-to-ten years in the future. 

Think about what you want your life to look like, what things you want to achieve, see or do, and think about everything that is important to you as an individual. Remain true to yourself. 

REVIEW IT

The key to remaining on the right path is to keep reminding yourself of what it is. You would think it would be easy to remember something so important, but alas, not when life gets in the way. Suddenly, you realise five years have gone by and you are STILL complaining about the same old stuff. The way to prevent this is to regularly review your list, so that it will keep reminding you of what your right path is. Make amendments as required, when you grow or change, but always keep the list as a reminder. 

That’s it. This is a foolproof way to remain on the right path in life.

 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY

If you are in the right frame of mind, create your list right now. If you are not, set yourself a reminder to do so at a future date. Ensure you keep this reminder visible so that when you are in the right frame of mind, you remember to do it.

 

 

 

Journaling Exercise: Your Journaling Habit

 

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image by olivander

 

For today’s exercise, I want you to think about your journaling habit. 

First, gather the facts:

How often do you journal? 

What do you usually write in it?

Do you journal regularly?

Second, write the results:

Do you feel satisfied with your journaling habits?

Are you getting the results you want?

Do you feel like you are a journal keeper, or do you feel like a fraud who pretends to be one?

Third, write about what you want to change:

This is the time to think about what you can do better. If you are unable to keep a regular journal, you might want some help to enable you to write every day, such as 365 Days of Journaling

If your journal is missing out on the all important details, learn to focus. If you are unable to make sense of what you wrote when, date your entries. When you journal regularly, you will automatically develop your own style. When you experiment with different methods and techniques, you will learn to decide what is important to you and what is not. 

All of the above steps will give you awareness of your current journaling habit, and help you create a guide map for improving those habits.

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Follow all the steps of this exercise in your journal.