My Goals for 2016

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

As the final post in my goals series, I think it’s appropriate to post my own goals for this year. Because I deeply value personal growth (mind, body and spirit), connecting meaningfully with my family, and empowering others, all my goals stem from these overarching objectives. I have a vision of what I want to become, so I state my goals as affirmations in the present tense to bring my reality closer to that of my vision.

Health:

  • I am craving healthy, nutritious foods, only indulging in treats/desserts once a month.
  • I am achieving my ideal weight of 120 pounds by July 1.
  • I am exercising for at least 20 minutes daily. (yoga, P90X3, walk/jog)

Family:

  • I am spending an hour of quality one-on-one time with each child once a week.
  • I am having 20 minutes of quality time with my husband every night.
  • I am planning the next week’s meals every Saturday.
  • I am involving my children in family history and journaling every Sunday.
  • I am traveling to Destin, Florida with my husband and/or children in September.

Mentoring:

  • I am holding a mentoring appointment every week by Dec. 1.
  • I am posting to my blog at least 3 times each month.
  • I am spending at least 2 hours a week in training or study.

Personal habits:

  • I am meditating every morning for 180 days straight.
  • I am using empowerment tools every morning and evening (vision board, declarations, goals review, etc.)
  • I am writing in my journal every evening.
  • I am reading scriptures every morning and memorizing one scripture every week.

I’m far from making most of these goals life habits, and I know it will be a constant challenge, but I want to keep striving. I aim for improvement, not perfection, so I don’t beat myself up for falling short. Posting these goals here is my way of shouting them to the world, which will make it more likely that I achieve them.

What goals do you have for yourself this year? Are any of them similar to any of mine? I’d love to see what changes you’re striving to make. Shout them out in the comments section!

 

Always Before Your Eyes

We’re now over a week into the new year. How is your goal setting coming along? Hopefully by now you’ve written down your goals. (If you haven’t, see the previous blog post in this series for  powerful tips.) What’s next? Maybe you’re like me and write goals from time to time in your journal or someplace and never look at them again. This hasn’t produced the best results. The essential next step is to review your written goals regularly. Keep them always before your eyes and you will achieve them.

A study by Dr. David Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, shows the importance of both writing down AND reviewing your goals:

  • 80% of Americans reported that they have no goals. (Huh, I really can’t even imagine having absolutely no direction in life! How sad.)
  • 16% said they have goals, but don’t write them down.
  • Of the remainder, less than 4% take the time to write their goals down. (If you’re reading this, I imagine you’re part of this group.)
  • Which leaves less than 1% of Americans, who write their goals and review them regularly.

I want to be part of the last group, and here’s why. Dr. Kohl analyzed the income generated by this small group across their lifetimes and found that they earned nine times more than Americans who didn’t have goals. 9X! That is huge! Now, I know that income is only one of many indicators of success in life, but for most people, it’s pretty important to be financially secure. If this study doesn’t motivate you to write and review your goals, I don’t know what would!

How often should you review your goals? Jack Canfield, successful author, recommends referring to your goals 3 times a day: first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day, and right before going to bed. Personally, I aim to review my goals twice a day, morning and evening.

Okay, that’s great, but HOW should you review them, to get the most bang for your buck? Try the following tips, some from Canfield and some from me, and see what works best for you:

  • Write your goals on index cards, keep them on your nightstand, and read them first thing when you wake up and right before you go to sleep. Doing this will help your goals to be on your mind throughout the day and prime your subconscious mind to work on how to achieve them while you sleep. (I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of being productive while I sleep!)
  • Put your list of goals in your daily planner or calendar system.
  • If you’re digitally inclined, create a popup on your electronic device of choice, or use your goals for the wallpaper image on your screen.
  • Write your most important goal on the back of your business card and put it in your wallet or purse where you’ll see it often.
  • Keep your written goals in your car, and whenever you are stopped at a red light, read one of your goals and think about it until the next time you’re stopped. (I’m going to start doing this when I take my kids to and from school!)
  • Mount a vision board on your bedroom wall, posting on it words and pictures representing your goals. Look at it morning and night. When you’ve achieved a goal, take the item off the board and place it in a “success binder.” (I’ll go more in-depth on vision boards in a future blog post.)
  • Create a “goal book” with a page depicting each one of your goals as though you’ve already achieved it. Review the book before bed.

No matter which method you choose to review your goals, be sure to also read them out loud from time to time, when you’re in an appropriate setting. Don’t just read them in a boring voice, but with energy, passion, and enthusiasm. If you really want this to be a powerful experience, incorporate gestures whenever you can.

Also, with each goal you read, take a moment to feel how you imagine you will feel once you achieve it. Jack Canfield writes in The Success Principles that doing this activates the structural tension in your brain, which increases your motivation, stimulates your creativity, and heightens your awareness of the resources you need.

Now go get after it! Make your selected method for reviewing your goals a daily habit, and soon it will become a near-effortless part of your life and bring you big results.

My Morning Power Routine (Version 2.1)

Summertime. At first it was nice doing whatever, whenever, in the morning. Staying in bed until the kids came in to get me. Not having to worry about getting anyone ready for school. Having no schedule at all, really. Well, it got old fast, say, less than two weeks. I began to realize that without structure at the beginning of the day, the rest of the day fell into disorder. I got some things done, but never near as much as I would have liked. What’s worse, I had been increasingly irritated and impatient with my kids and generally more negative. I wasn’t very fun to be around.

Could this just be a summer-break symptom? I know that a lot of moms struggle with this time of year, since they’re not used to having the kids around all day long, but I don’t think this is the reason in my case. Only the oldest of my three was in school last year, and having her home now actually makes it easier, as she entertains her little brothers most of the time.

Or, could it stem from the lack of structure in the morning? I really feel this is the case. From January through mid-May, I had had a great routine of waking up early and meditating and reading inspiring literature. During those months, I felt I experienced better clarity of mind and was more positive, relaxed, and happy.

So, for the last several days, I’ve returned to that routine. (Well, except for Sunday morning when I slept in!) I’ve started keeping a log about what exactly I do each morning, for how long, and rate myself on how productive, patient, and positive I had been that day. Log-keeping is an excellent way to learn about yourself and see the bigger picture of what’s really going on. It provides proof to your brain of the bad habits and unhelpful beliefs you’d like to can, and proof of what tools really increase your personal effectiveness, giving you motivation to stick with it.

Here is what my routine currently looks like:

  1. Wake up at or near 6:30 and pray.
  2. Brisk walk or jog outside for 15-30 mins. (Or yoga inside)
  3. Drink a glass of water mixed with the juice of 1/2 a lime or lemon.
  4. Meditation: 20 breaths minimum, or taking up to 20 mins. if time allows and it’s quiet in the house.
  5. Read & study inspirational literature, beginning with scripture.
  6. Write in journal and log.

Why do these things in the morning? I have significant reasons for each.

1. I wake up at 6:30 because I want to be up 30 to 60 minutes before my children. That way I can have time to empower myself, thus equipping me to be more fully present for them during the rest of the day. It wouldn’t make sense to wake up this early if I went to bed at midnight like I used to do. Humans need 7-9 hours of sleep or else they suffer from memory problems, immune system failure, low energy, and a host of other deficiencies. So I try to go to bed around 10:30 or 11 pm, which isn’t totally natural for me–yet.

2. Light exercise first thing after waking up is something I just added to my routine a few days ago. First of all, practically, it’s more comfortable in the summer to be outside as early as possible, and convenient to be able to leave the kids asleep before my husband leaves for work. Second, getting sunlight on my face provides an awesome boost of energy and mood. (Early exposure to sunlight also helps regulate circadian rhythms and produces vitamin D). Third, although I often have high hopes to exercise more vigorously later in the day, this tends to not actually end up happening most of the time, so I figure at least I’m sure to get some exercise in rather than none at all.

3. Lemon water is great for your health, especially when taken in the morning 30-60 minutes before eating anything. It cleanses your kidneys and other organs and raises the alkalinity in your body (paradoxically enough), which cancels out some of the damage caused by the highly acidic diets that most Americans consume. This keeps you from getting sick as often and can even help prevent cancer. Plus, it’s very refreshing and yummy. (In winter I change it up by drinking peppermint tea with lime and honey.) Even if you don’t add citrus, just drink a large glass of plain water first thing in the morning. It’s a great aid to your metabolism and hydrates your body.

4. Meditation may sound new-agey to some people, but it’s been practiced for thousands of years, so there’s nothing new about it. It’s simple to do and has tons of benefits, (which I’ll go into more on a future post,) including stress-reduction and clarity of mind. Basically, it is detaching yourself from the stream-of-consciousness state of your mind (which is dominated by the past and future) by focusing only on the present moment or state of being. This is most easily achieved by concentrating on nothing but your breath going in and out. Relax in an upright sitting position and just take 20 breaths with intention. If pesky thoughts intrude, and they will, just release them with your next exhale and return your focus to the breath. Just try it. Add music if that helps.

5. Reading inspirational literature in the morning really orients my mind to the positive. I love the mental rush I get from learning and making new connections, and my spirit loves the light that comes in and uplifts me. Because reading the news, my Facebook feed, deal blogs or email can leave me feeling scattered or even depressed, I always wait to attend to those things until I’ve put in some prime time with the most important and uplifting words and information. It gives me a more positive perspective on everything else I read or watch the rest of the day. Find something that lifts and feeds you, something that goes beyond mere entertainment. Also, it need not be limited to “spiritual”  or religious material. Some examples are inspiring biographies, self-improvement books, poetry, historical accounts, or uplifting short stories. Feed your mind and spirit daily.

6. I’ve been trying to write in my digital journal each day, whether it be one sentence or a longer entry. I used to only journal when I felt like I had something “significant” to write about, but that didn’t capture my everyday experiences, which more accurately represent my real life. Other times I would write for what I thought were therapeutic reasons, to deal with problems I was ruminating about, but writing about it always magnified the problems and was the opposite of helpful. That’s because what you focus on expands. Now I’m choosing to focus primarily on gratitude by writing about wonderful things that happen in my life or things I notice around me, no matter how small, whether it’s the joy of watching my children splash in puddles or being awe-struck by an elaborate spider web (without getting any of it on me, of course!). It pre-programs my mind to notice future lovely and joyful things, and writing about them allows me to re-experience those good feelings a second time. I also love writing more extensive entries sometimes, which allows my mind to make further connections and discovering insights I never would have had if I hadn’t begun to write.

And that’s what I’m striving for each morning, even though I hardly ever do each and every one of these things as perfectly or consistently as I’d like to. I would love to add a couple more items to my a.m. routine, as well as design an evening routine, so I’m going to experiment with some different things and figure out which investments of my time create the largest payoff in my personal effectiveness and joy.

I hope that you will put some thought into your own morning routine. It’s so important. Don’t just take my word for it. I plan to write a post in the near future listing the things highly-successful people do to start out their days, which you can then pick and choose from to design the routine that’s best for you. I’d love some feedback, though, before I write that post. Those of you who already use a routine, even if it’s just one thing you do consistently each morning, what habits do you recommend? Have you found success with any of the six I mentioned, or something completely different? And for what reasons has this been meaningful or helpful in your day-to-day life?