Posted on December 19, 2011 in Goals by Sandra Bienkowski
I love this time of year. Today, as I write this, there are 12 days left in the year. I have a little less than two weeks to get things on the board for 2011 … and 12 days left to plan 2012. And so do you.
As we transition from this year to next, you are likely to see story headlines about why most people don’t keep New Year’s resolutions, why gyms are packed January 2 and empty come March, and you are likely to find experts debating about the effectiveness of goal setting.
Ignore all of it.
Debating whether goal setting is effective is like asking you if it’s important to know where you are going when you get in your car. If you don’t set a destination, you won’t arrive. And why inundate yourself with negative information about how most people don’t stick to their goals? You don’t have to be like most people.
I view the start of a New Year as a big deal. Sure, those 10 pound weight loss resolutions are healthy (and common) but think of the transition into a New Year as a BIG, exciting time to tally up your wins for this year (Yeah, YOU!) and time to start drawing on that 365 day blank canvas of the year ahead. You can be a whole new you next year, an improved you or a more productive you. All you have to do is decide! But first …
Celebrate your wins or, as I like to call it, why you rock. Don’t start your year off by making a list of all the things you didn’t do. Don’t begin your year with your inner critic yammering in your head. Instead, list all the cool things you did this year. Write down your biggest growth areas. Jot down what you know now that you didn’t know a year ago. List all the things you are grateful for about 2011. And the places you traveled. List the friendships you made or deepened. Capture the stand-out conversations you had. Recall some of the compliments you received this year. Or the amazing changes you made. If it’s a positive standout memory and it happened in the 365 days of 2011, get it down on paper. Make just one long list of all of these wonderful things about your life, and then take some time to glance it over. Absorb your positive year list before you look ahead.
Make your 101 list. Instead of thinking of a handful of resolutions, think bucket list. I learned this tip from Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books. Use the start of a New Year to capture all of the things you want to do in your life. A 101 list encourages you to think bigger and pushes you to put more LIFE into your year because you have so much you want to do. Take 15 minutes and write out 101 things you want to do in order to live a life with no (or few!) regrets. Your list can include big goals—like travel to Australia or little goals like write more handwritten letters. Capture everything important to you. The short timeframe of 15 minutes will silence your inner critic that likes to chime in on what you can’t do. When you are finished, give each item a deadline so you will take action—soon. See how many things you can cross off your 101 list in the New Year!
Right now, 2012 is a giant blank canvas. What will you write on it?
Posted on December 14, 2011 in Fun, Goals, Happiness by Sandra Bienkowski
Are you happy? Do you have fun? If you answered “no” to either question, I’d like to help you ditch the drudgery and find joy. I am passionate about helping other people live happier, more fulfilling lives. I know what it’s like to be in the depths of depression (a story for another blog), but I dug my way out. Now I hope to inspire others with what I know.
I want my blog, Journey to Joy, to offer straight talk, real solutions that work, and the truth. First, a bit about my journey …
Several years ago, the quote, “the road to success is always under construction” certainly applied to me. Everything was going wrong. (Not the depression I spoke of earlier, just a bad patch) It was almost comical; at least that’s how I like to think of it now. My car went from reliable to lemon. I couldn’t get my car to shut off. Seriously. I felt like I was stuck in some sort of horror movie where my car was out to get me. Costly repairs made my paycheck disappear in a not-so-magical way. I also realized (after way too much time) that I was dating another narcissist. Maybe not by clinical definition, but let’s just say I should have bought these men mirrors instead of dating them … but I digress.
My friends were getting laid off in droves at the publishing company where I worked. While my job was safe, it was like going to work at a ghost town. It was no longer a fun, fulfilling place of employment. Feeling overwhelmed, I quickly turned into one of those people so consumed with my own problems, I became a crappy, self-absorbed friend. I lost some friendships in the process. I was in my 30s and life wasn’t turning out like I planned.
I pulled out my journal because writing always centers me. I wrote out a vision of how I wanted my life to look. And then I wrote out the depressing part—how my life currently looked. I asked myself: What steps do you need to take to turn your life into your ideal vision instead of its current mess? The action steps included things like: dump the lemon car and boyfriend, find a new job I love, and be a better friend. I was amazed at how quickly my life turned around. I landed a job at SUCCESS, a national magazine, writing about how people can improve their lives. (Fitting, right?) I took a time out from dating. I stopped talking about my own problems long enough to be a good friend again.
When you get clear on your problems and clear on where you are going, you can improve your life—fast.
If you don’t like where your life is today, write out a plan for your ideal life. What’s your ideal vision for your life? Write it down. Now write a description of how your life currently looks and compare it to your ideal vision. Don’t forget the most important part—the action steps that will lead you to your ideal life. List them for every change you need to make.
A quote from Katori Hall, a playwright featured in O magazine sums up this blog best. “It was like God was holding a bag of blessings and I was holding a bag of shit, and when I let go of my bag, God was like, ‘here you go.’”
So let go of the crap and let your blessings begin.