In these final days of the year, many of us are thinking about the kind of year it was, and what we would like to be able to change for the next year.
I hear the word “success” used a lot, both with considering the past year and in formulating plans and strategies for accomplishing an even more satisfying and exhilarating year ahead.
I find myself wanting not so much a year of success – it’s such a loaded word in many ways. I do, however, look forward to a year that sparkles – to a year that is filled with positive, exhilarating energy, freedom from lots of “shoulds” and “must dos,” and is opening new doors for creativity and self-realization. Sparkle. I want sparkle.
Discipline is what can get it all to happen. Discipline moves us from the rattling in our own minds into action, where the action happens. Discipline is a practice, not a philosophy. Discipline is what can carry us passed the few first days and weeks of new behaviors and through the loneliness and ambivalence that inevitably appear. It can be our friend, our mentor, our guide, our teacher, our coach, and a disciplined life will always be more successful and enjoyable and an undisciplined life. Indeed, it will be life that sparkles.
Wanting something in life – a slimmer body, more energy, freedom from aches and pains from years of body neglect and poor diet – is not going to happen by simply wanting it. It will take a decision, a goal, and a series of strategies to reach that goal, and plenty of discipline to execute them.
One of the surest ways to the successes you want is to set weekly goals that move you towards the broader, more general goals you have for, say, the next six months, or the next year.
Why weekly goals, you may ask. A week is a long enough time to accomplish a number of tasks, and a short enough time to notice how well you are carrying them out, and, perhaps more importantly, where you are not. A weekly review allows you to catch those sparkle-suppressors, like procrastination, inertia, bad habits, and all the minor distractions and details that sabotage your best intentions.
The bad news is those best intentions do not count. What counts is the ability to set honest, realistic, realizable goals, and then do the daily work to accomplish them.
You can have results or excuses, not both.
What is the best way to set goals? Ask yourself these questions:
What do I want to achieve for myself in this life?
What do I want to achieve for this coming year?
What can I do immediately, this week, to achieve these goals?
Then, set a weekly goal that will move you in the direction of the yearly goal. Make the goal measurable, and not so hard that you will rebel against the “authority” of it. On the other hand, don’t make it so easy that you will lack the motivation to pursue it. Get to work and at the end of each week review what got done and what did not get done. If some things were not accomplished, why not? This is valuable information. Was it an unrealistic goal given the circumstances of your life? Was it an important enough goal to warrant rearranging some other things so that this goal can be accomplished?
Move along, plan the next week, incorporating what the learnings were from the current week.
If you follow this pattern for a few weeks, you will be able to see what you habitually avoid, and why. We all have own strengths, weaknesses, and particular idiosyncrasies. Monitoring ourselves weekly helps us to be more aware of them, and to adjust where we need to achieve what we want to achieve. Sparkle.
Again, it’s about the discipline to see and know yourself well and to have the courage to make the changes that will make you more effective at setting and achieving weekly goals. If you don’t achieve a particular goal for the week, design a new strategy for the following week, or adjust the goal itself to be more realistic. Progress beats perfection any day. Remorse or recrimination are not good motivators. Each week is a new week and a new opportunity to be successful.
When you accomplish a weekly goal, acknowledge it. Celebrate the minor victories along the way. Nothing builds success like success, so pay attention to it always, as little as it may sometimes seem.
Following this system of weekly goal setting, evaluation and resetting for another week’s intentions. Developing a life of sparkle for this next year is having the ability to know what you want, and then putting the methods in place to accomplish it. If you can master setting and achieving weekly goals, you can master anything you can dream of. It can change your life.
I wish you a revolutionary year of sparkle in the coming year.