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We have talked all month about different aspects of goal setting and starting the change process in our lives.  Now I’m really ready to start writing down my goals.  Sometimes I get a little over excited, and I’ll write down a big bunch of things I’d like to do differently.  It can be really exciting and energizing, which is why I do it. But I have to be really careful that I’m being authentic to myself and making goals that really pertain to my own life and development.

I do believe that it’s good to have accountability in our goals by sharing them with someone you trust, thus helping to keep each other on track. However, it can also be a bit overwhelming.

Can you guess what happens next? I listen to my friend as she shares what she is going to do, and I think “Wow, that’s really great, I should probably be doing that also” or “Why haven’t I been able to do that, it sounds really important” or “I wish I could do better like that.”  The problem with thinking like this is that now I feel like less of a person because I think I should actually be like someone else, instead of being me.

Why is it so hard to accept that each of us is in a different place in life.  My personality is different, I have a different home, different husband, different children than…. well, everyone else in the world.  While we may have some similarities with our friends and loved ones, we are each traveling a very unique and different road in life.

Susan and I like to joke that we were raised by different parents.  Even though they are the same “people” they were in such different places in their lives with each of us. When I was born, Mom was just 24, and I was her first, while Dad was still finishing college. But, by the time Susan was born, she was Mom’s last child of 4, born 10 years after me, and Dad was busy building a successful career.  (Plus there were two busy brothers in between.)

I suppose the point is that we can only live the life that we have, where it is, right now. Sometimes I’d like to go back and relive 10 years ago, but that just isn’t an option. (There’s no tardis in my life’s experience.)

My goals need to be pertinent to me, in my life now.  I know people who can run marathons or do triathlons, and I can totally admire them and cheer them on… from the sidelines.  That is just never going to be me.

It isn’t going to do me any good if I try to make my goals look like someone else’s because I want them to think I’m as good as they are. My goals shouldn’t be for the sole benefit of looking good.  They should be to help me to feel happier and more satisfied with my life.

By starting with my list of my own personal values and my “recognitions” I can begin to make a list of goals that are meaningful to me.

For example:

Value: Family

Recognition: I want to enjoy the time I have with my children while they are young.

Goals for this month:

  1. Make sure I’m holding them accountable for their chores and schoolwork.
  2. Do one home improvement project together.
  3. Spend some time each week doing something fun, just with each other.

I like to do home improvement projects with my kids, because it gets them thinking creatively, and they really enjoy feeling like they are contributing.  But that is my family and where we are this year.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, it’s just something we enjoy. This is an area that my goal will be very different from my friend’s.

By keeping it simple and do-able I hope to see some progress that will lead to even bigger things down the road.

Some of my other values and recognitions have much bigger goals, and for them I am using Susan’s post it board method to keep me on track.

Whatever you decide to do with your goal setting this year, make it personal, make it meaningful, and if it gets overwhelming go back to a method I talked about earlier.

When thinking about a certain goal, or action step in your goal, analyze how it makes you feel.  If you feel excited, happy or at peace, go forward with this step. It’s a good one.

If you feel anxious, stressed or nervous while thinking about this step, it may not be the right timing.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t have this goal or make this action step, it may be that you just aren’t ready.  Re-examine your recognition or value that lead you to this step, and think if there is something smaller, or simpler that can lead you in the right direction that feels a little more peaceful to you as you think about what it takes to accomplish this goal.

Any step in the right direction, no matter how small, is progress.

The goals that I set with my children in mind this month are simple enough that I feel like I can certainly work on them and not get overwhelmed. Thinking about them makes me happy.

As you work on your goals this month, I hope that you will also find happiness and satisfaction in knowing that you have the power to move forward to becoming the best you that you can be.

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There is this funny thing that can happen when we start to make changes in life.  As we think about New Year’s resolutions and making goals and what should be different this year as opposed to last, doubt and discouragement will try to sneak in.

When do they sneak in? The first time you fall back into an old habit and forget your resolve for the thing you wanted to do differently.

Good people who want to improve can also be really hard on themselves when they make mistakes. But the thing is, they are just mistakes. They are just a recognition of why you wanted to change in the first place. Mistakes are also just a stepping stone to getting to where you really want to be.  The truth is that we are all just human and we are going to make mistakes, or slip up, or just plain forget to do the thing that we wanted to do.

success is getting back up

Success consists of getting up once oftener than you fall down”

Whenever we mess up, the best thing we can do is say “oh well” and get up and try again. (It also doesn’t hurt to own up to the mistake, and apologize to anyone else that may be involved.)

Change can be difficult and it certainly can take time. It also often requires trying over and over again.

Accepting that this is a reality can help us in realizing the real truth.

Even though change is difficult… sometimes really difficult… it is absolutely possible, and the results can be amazing.“

I want to remind you of a technique that I have talked about before, to help you in a pre-emptive strike against discouragement.

As you look at your values and the things that you want to do this year, whether it is your recognition of what you want (from this post) or letting go of things that aren’t really you (from this post) start first by examining or evaluating your past for good things.

Make a list of things that you succeeded at in the past. Try to think of some things from last year, but maybe you will go back to years past.  Maybe there is something really big that you remember and feel really good about. These can be bad habits that you have overcome, or big projects that you completed. Maybe it is a relationship that is dear to you that took some work to save or build.

For some people this will be really difficult. Some of us are not used to boasting or looking for the good in ourselves. Some are afraid that this type of searching is “prideful.”

Don’t worry about being prideful in this exercise.  Pride is thinking that you are better than someone else, or smarter than the guiding you may get from the spirit. That is not what we are talking about here. Here we are looking for ways that you improved yourself, and probably helped others through these improvements. If you have trouble thinking of something, ask family members or close friends to help you. I promise there is something you have improved in, and maybe somethings you have conquered that you can feel really good about.

The reason why this step is so important is that it gives encouragement and hope to know that if we have conquered a bad habit from the past, we can do it again.

If we have learned a new skill in the past we can learn more.

If we have made a desired improvement once, we can surely do it again.

Once you have completed a list of a few things that you have been successful at, you can turn back to it and refer to it, as you make the list of changes you are now ready to tackle in your life.  As things get hard, you will find strength in the hope of change, knowing that you have already done some hard things in the past.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to grow and improve and to BE HAPPY!!  He will help us along the way, if we let Him.

The caution is that Satan knows the power of improvement that can come from us also, and he will try to prevent it any way he can. It surely scares him when strong people become even stronger. When you start to feel discouraged, know that it is coming from him. When you feel that a minor setback is a major failure, that is coming from him. His great lie of “you’re not good enough, you shouldn’t even try” will probably be thrown at you just when you are on the verge of growth and improvement.

When you start to feel this coming on, turn your focus back to the Savior.  His death and atonement is what makes it possible for us to fall and get back up again.  To continue to try, to grow, to reach for becoming the person He wants us to be and knows that we can be.  Through the miracle of repentance we can change. WE CAN CHANGE!! Even if it’s hard.  Even if it’s slow. It is possible because of Him.

I invite you to continue to work on your goals, and continue to strive for constant improvement.  Feel free to share in the comments some of the goals you are working on, and some of your past successes.

As we improve this year, we will combine to make this world a better place.

 

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In the last few weeks we have talked about making changes and moving forward in our lives in positive ways.  Susan discussed letting go of fear, and making that leap into becoming who you are really meant to be.  I (Laura) talked about letting go of the expectations of New Year’s Resolutions in favor of starting with declaring or recognizing what it is that I really want in my life.

From these two places we can start to make the changes in our lives that will be the most beneficial.

 

Today, I am deciding what my personal values are.  What do I want to be working on this year?  What is really important to me?

Values could be anything from: spiritual development, parenting, relationship with spouse, education, financial security, physical fitness, improved emotional state… and many other things.  It is personal to you and to the stage of life you are in. Your important values from last year may be different this year. It is easier for me to analyze and think about in a diagram.

This is an example of my values

Here is a blank bubble diagram of values so you can add your personal values.

These values can be even more effective if they are made more specific.  Service could be: giving more service to my neighbors.  Family could be: building a better relationship with ____. Fitness could be: feeling better about my body.

As I make my list I will analyze each area.  I consider the value and I pay close attention to how I feel inside, at my core.

Does concentrating on this value make me feel good or excited or at peace?  If so, this means I am headed in the right direction.

If looking at this value causes me to feel stress or tension or fear, it is probably not the right time for me to work on this area of my life.  It may be something to re-visit after some other areas are tackled first.

I believe that we are all meant for greatness.  There is a message inside each of us that we have for the world. Big or small, it is there waiting to come out. And when or if we can get it out, it will be amazing, not only for ourselves but also for the people we have influence over.

Getting in touch with our core values is a starting place to build around.  In his talk “What lack I yet?” Elder Larry R Lawrence said

the Holy Ghost will prompt us to improve

 

Our Heavenly Father is always on our side, and He wants us to improve and will guide us in our efforts. Allow Him to show you where He can help you grow in your life. Only He knows what we are really capable of and how much more we can grow. He knows more than any other the greatness that is in us just waiting to come out.

As you contemplate your values and the direction for your life this year, always making Heavenly Father a part of your process, you will be able to see a real shift in goals that are realistic, do-able, and can bring us into line with our true selves.

Let go of your fears, let God help you, and as you brainstorm your values and directions in your life, you will be on the way to discovering the greatness inside of you.

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A better method of improving than making resolutions

I got up this morning with the cheerful plan of putting away the Christmas decorations, organizing them all in the garage and cleaning my house.  It felt so good when it was all done, and although I miss the Nativity pieces around my home, reminding us of Christ, I enjoy the feeling of organization and cleanliness that followed.  I’m sure this clean slate feeling and the fact that it is a brand new year is the reason “resolutions” are the next logical thought.

I got so excited I searched the internet for help.  “How to clean your whole house in one hour.” “How to organize your office to work more efficiently.” “Finally get your finances under control.” “Top tips for your new best body.” “How can I go from couch to 10k?” “Start the new year with intentional mothering.”   The help is endless and the overwhelm starts to set in right…. NOW!

Resolutions are logical and seem like such a good idea. Until they suddenly become my worst enemy. Here are the reasons why they don’t work for me, and why I need a change of plan.

  1. A resolution is a resolve to change, and change rarely happens overnight.  But when I make a new year’s resolution, that is exactly what I expect to happen.  Over night from December 31st to January 1st, I expect my life to change magically to “be better at” all the things that I struggle with.
  2. It becomes overwhelming. My life is busy enough. To suddenly have a long list of more things to add to my plate all at once is just too much to even think about.
  3. Real life comes back and my “resolve” gives way to other demands. I really do want to do these new “good” things in my resolutions, but real-life demands often mean that there may legitimately not be enough time in each day for everything.
  4. When I can’t make the desired changes quickly enough, I quit and feel like a failure. No one should feel like a failure, especially if they are trying to make improvements in their lives, but that “failure” bug just keeps biting me.

So this year I have decided that I am done with New Year’s resolutions…

This year I am making New Year’s Recognitions…. What is a “Recognition” you may ask? This is where I narrow down what I really want for my life.  There are a lot of thoughts that float around in my head about how I might live a little differently, if only…. I had more time, more knowledge, more desire.  Well, they are all just thoughts until I take the time to write them down and come to really recognize what is most important to me. Once I know what I really want for my life, I can start making goals. (See this post for goal planning.)

Here are some examples of my “Recognitions”

  1. I want to be a better friend
  2. I want to be physically stronger
  3. I want a home where friends and family feel comfortable to come spend time with me
  4. I want to enjoy the time I have with my children while they are young

Can you see how these are not really goals, and they are not resolutions?  They are a recognition (or a declaration) of what is important to me and what I want personally for my life. From these recognitions I can begin to make goals that are more meaningful and have a better chance for success.

We all have something we want to change about ourselves, and sometimes it can be daunting, and sometimes it is a change that will take a lot of time, maybe more than we would like.  By keeping in mind what we really want for ourselves, the changing process becomes more manageable. It becomes a matter of doing what I “want to do” and less what I “have to do.”

I’m looking forward to writing down what I want to do, as I start my goal setting process for the year.  I don’t want to set goals based on what I “should” be doing, or what other people are doing, or even what other people think I should do.  I am learning to be true to myself and more intentional with my goal setting by taking the time to first come to the “recognition” of what I really want for my life,

I truly believe that I am setting myself up for more success on the road to making the progress I want.

Doesn’t that sound better than simply “resolving” to make change?

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