Think back on this year that’s ending. What if your next 5 years play out pretty much the same way–your job, your free time, your relationships? Does that projection make you feel glad or sad? Excited or scared?
In my last post I talked about concentrating on what we want more of for the new year instead of making the same ol’ deprivation-based resolutions.
This next year is your chance to make time for what matters to you, for more of what you want. It’s time for us to readjust so there’s more happy than crappy in our everyday lives.
Let’s get specific.
How do you want your life to look? Write down some broad goals for your life–your resolutions. Here are some examples: become a surgeon, exercise regularly, be an attentive parent, gain my partner’s trust at work, etc.
Now look at your daily task list. If you don’t have one handy just write down the activities that happen on your usual days.
How does your daily list compare with your resolution list?
Do your two lists compliment each other?
Making these 2 lists a few years ago was a big eye opener for me. I was spending most of my days doing cleaning and organizing chores (shocking, I KNOW) because those tasks filled my to do list. As a result, I never seemed to have time to work on growing my business even though I kept telling myself my business was my priority.
Tidying up my house feels productive and good. But it really doesn’t help me accomplish my long term goals. In fact it had turned into straight-up procrastination right along with eating cookies and checking the facebook.
After I discovered this big inconsistency between my life goals list and my daily routine, I knew I had to put office hours on my calendar instead of trying to fit them in whenever I was done organizing/procrastinating.
A side note about my priorities: Having a minimal, organized, clean house is still on my list of goals because that sort of environment makes me happy and productive. The difference now, is that when I see an appointment on my calendar to do office work, I know it’s time to stop cleaning up (or whatever procrastination activity I’m doing). I also know I have time allotted for cleaning up or goofing off later, and time for reading, and time for cooking.
In fact, I’m happily surprised how much time I have for things I like to do once I have scheduled in the goal-supporting stuff. Hard tasks often don’t take as long as we think they do. (I’ll talk about that in my next post.)
What activities could you put on your calendar to support your life goals?
- Resolution- Be well-read. Action- Put reading time on your calendar.
- Resolution- Be a loving, attentive spouse. Action- Schedule dates with your spouse–real dates, not just red wine+Netflix+pass-out dates.
- Resolution- Serve more healthy meals. Action- Add meal planning, shopping, cooking to your weekly schedule. This article by Summer Tomato is a must read if your resolution is more healthy meals.
- Resolution- Have a less cluttered home. Action- Take time to clear trash and obsolete items from your space when they are replaced with new things.
Make sure activities which support your goals take priority over activities that do not. The easiest way to do that is to put supportive things on your calendar and on your schedule.
You may be saying,
Good gravy! This is way too rigid. You may like to schedule your reading but I do not!
If you are more loosey-goosey, you can still implement an easy going version of this concept. Use bigger blocks of time and more general terms like free time, house stuff, work, etc.
How about this? If you have a paper calendar you can put an X on each day you do something that moves you toward a goal. As the days go by, the Xs create a chain and you will not want to break the visual chain. Here’s the scoop (attributed to Jerry Seinfeld) in more detail.
What really matters to you? Feeling healthy? Fostering friendships? Being successful at work? Write these things down and put the page somewhere you will see it when you are deciding what to do with your week.
Protip: Writing down an aspiration makes you more likely to follow through.
If your life goals involve being organized I suggest you actually start with your calendar and your daily schedule because once you feel in better control of your time, you will be empowered to better control your money, health, career, and even your clutter.
In my next post we’ll get into the nitty gritty of finding time in our busy, busy lives to have meaningful experiences and to do the things that support our goals– you know, things that really matter!