The Simple Life

Here we are. The Madness of March has begun. We’re nearly at the quarter pole of 2018. You’re probably already asking, “Where has the time gone?” Just yesterday you seemed to be gearing up for the holidays and now it’s just about baseball season. How are those 2018 resolutions coming?

 

Hopefully, you’re like me and you’re on track with the goals you have set for yourself. What, you weren’t expecting me to say that? Did you think this would be another post about failed resolutions and how tough life is? Not here. Not today. I’m serious. I’m more committed to evolving and achieving my short-term goals in 2018 than I ever have been in my life. It’s all about focusing on progress not perfection.

 

It really is that simple. It’s not just a phrase, but a mindset to keep you focused and in a positive frame of mind. In order to help you achieve your goals and realize it is not too late to set some for yourself, I want to share with you my goal-setting process.

 

Along the way I will reveal a few of my 2018 goals in hopes you will keep me accountable. Finally, I will show some ways for you to set realistic goals and begin to achieve them. My hope is you’ll realize it isn’t too late to begin your 2018 progress and make the most of what else 2018 has to offer.

 

Progress Not Perfection

 

Goal Setting

Goal setting. It’s never been a strong trait of mine. Sure I’ve had goals and dreams. Things I want to do or accomplish, but rarely have I ever written them down. Rarely have I ever truly held myself accountable. Rarely were there repercussions or consequences if I failed to meet them. Partly because they were flimsy goals and partly because I never really took it seriously. I wasn’t very intentional with my actions.

 

This all changed the day I lost my job in 2015. Since that time, I have had to take a long look in the mirror and completely change the approach to how I live my life and attack tasks. So how did I do this? Well, it didn’t happen overnight! I began to read more books on leadership, entrepreneurship and personal development. I got re-married during this time and my wife is quite possibly the most mindful person on the planet.

 

Her guidance and influence have completely re-shaped my thinking and I must give credit to her for this process. So what is this transformative process? We like to call it the “Resolve to Evolve” plan. Check out the link and look at the simple to use template to help you brainstorm, create and carry out your goals for the upcoming year. It’s that easy!

 

The action plan only requires you to identify 3 steps leading up to the goal, along with a 6 month review.  Your goals should be SMART.  SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

 

2018 Goals

My goals for 2018 focus on five categories: health, career, relationships, financial and spiritual/learning.

 

I chose these categories because these are five focus areas that tie into my core values and beliefs. The easiest way to live an intentional life, one that has true purpose, is to align your actions with your core values and beliefs. Once you have your core values in alignment with your categories, it’s time to get specific with your goals.

 

For me, each category then has three specific goals tied to the category. This then gives me 15 highly actionable areas to focus on this year. Without going into tremendous detail, below are my top line goals for each category in 2018.

 

Health Goal: Complete 80 workouts by 8/31 Why? Make a health and wellness a priority. Workouts need to be the norm and not the exception.
Career Goal: Obtain more digital marketing certifications Why? Always need to learn and remain personally marketable.
Relationships Goal: Send one hand-written note per month Why? Taking the extra time to write a note makes me feel good. This act nurtures relationships and can also be nice surprise for the recipient.
Financial Goal: Pay off my last credit card Why? Financial freedom is important to living a fulfilling life. There is no such thing as “good” debt. Spiritual/Learning Goal: Read eight books Why? Reading books keeps me away from devices. You can never stop leaning and I grow and learn by reading.

 

Always make sure when writing down your goals to set realistic deadlines, work in a 6-month review or check-in dates to track your progress and have a “why” behind each goal. If you’re not aligning your why to these goals, you’ll lose focus on their importance and more than likely fail to meet them. Without these steps, your goals will lack direction.  And without direction, you may end up at an unknown, and unwanted destination.

 

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Progress Not Perfection

This statement has resonated with me more than just about any mantra I’ve picked up in the last few years. All too often we focus on the end goal. Any impediment to that goal which slows us down, usually leads to discouragement and may possibly lead to quitting. You must celebrate your small gains and wins along the way.

 

You’re never going to achieve your goals overnight, so you must remain hopeful and focus on progress not perfection. For my “80 workouts by 8/31” goal, I know that I need to hit the gym 3-4 times a week to meet this challenge. I didn’t set an unrealistic goal of going every day of the week.

 

With my schedule and my commute, that would burn me out really quickly. I also know that some weeks, it may just be one visit. While others I may go 4-5 times. Knowing that life will get in the way, but setting a realistic mark, has allowed me to focus on the progress I make.

 

The reality is, we’re imperfect people striving for perfection, and we have to learn to celebrate our progress. Perfection isn’t possible. But, a constant effort and a constant celebrating of our progress is possible.

 

The more we celebrate our progress, the more progress we’re likely to make. And the psychological encouragement that comes from knowing that we are actually making progress is incredibly powerful. I consistently strive to become the-best-version-of-myself.

 

But being intentional in our goal setting and aligning our actions with our core values and beliefs, we can accomplish becoming a-better-version-of-yourself every day.

 

Progress, not perfection. How do I celebrate progress? I share it with writings like this and I look to help others better themselves through goal setting. How do you celebrate progress?

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The Simple Life

Did you know one word can change your life? It may seem crazy, but I swear it’s true. Let me tell you how.

 

As I experienced a personal and career transformation throughout 2017, I began reading and following the works of Jon Gordon. Mr. Gordon is a renowned author and speaker who touches on topics centered on leadership, culture and teamwork. As I poured over his works, I came across a book written by him and his friends Jimmy Page and Dan Britton titled, “One Word That Will Change Your Life.”

 

That’s a pretty bold hook and makes you think that a universal word is all we need to transform our life. However, the topic is a little more nuanced. The authors found one word could be a driving force for people each year. No detailed goals. No wish lists. Just one word. But, that word should be different for everyone. It should be personal to you and help guide your values and beliefs.

 

I’ve written about my desire for a simple life before. By focusing on what truly adds value to my life, I’ve been able to clear the clutter from my mind and focus on progress NOT perfection. My list of goals is simple and focused, with action items and check points for me to stay on track. This helps me prioritize what matters to me personally.

 

Despite still having a list of goals, I have also chosen my “one word” for 2019, and my word this year is “Service.” The simple power of this word will have an impact on six dimensions of my life – mental, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and financial. Simply put, the one word “sticks” for me in a lot of areas. “Service” may mean something different to everyone.

 

For myself in 2019, I want to be able to give more of myself and my time to others. Service to me means giving back through my time adjunct teaching, mentoring and speaking. This hits the emotional, relational and physical dimensions. Service also means donating funds to causes in which I believe, many involving my son’s school or my parish, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church.

 

This fulfills the financial, spiritual and mental dimensions. The financial freedom my wife Megan and I have recently gained has allowed us to begin to give our time and money more generously. My goal is to multiply the time and money we are able to give this year. Giving to others fills me with a sense of purpose and better aligns my every day actions with my core values and beliefs.

 

It’s easy to pick your one word. You must first have clarity and focus in your decision. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past. Then, deciding on the word is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Identify the person you want to become
  2. Identify the characteristics of that person
  3. Pick a word that helps you become that desired person

 

Before you embark on this journey, a subtle warning: Don’t be surprised if living out your “one word” feels unnatural and awkward at first. Remember, the reason you want to focus on this word might be due to the fact that this characteristic may not currently be present in your day-to-day life. Give it some thought. Also, give yourself time and stay with it.

 

It’s as easy as following the above steps and then deciding on your one word for 2019. By focusing on one word and setting realistic goals in 2019, you will begin to believe in yourself like never before. You will be on your way to becoming the best version of yourself and your life will be changed before you know it.

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