It’s that time of year again when every listicle, podcast and clickbait is promising you unprecedented wealth, health and happiness if you just do these 228 things that successful people swear by!
And while it’s always interesting to get a peek inside the lives of other people and find out what they’re doing, chasing the rabbit trail of “what should I do?” by crowdsourcing habits is a surefire way to end 2018 the same way you ended every other lackluster year: frustrated, burned out and wondering if it’ll ever get better.
So today I’m pulling back the curtain to share how I was able to meet every one of my personal goals in 2017 and how I set myself up for success. Not as a roadmap for you to do as I did, but to demonstrate that you can make your own rules along the way.
Today’s post is all about success in your personal life and be sure to join me next week when I share more about business success.
Let’s start with what I accomplished in the last 12 months:
-I worked out with a personal trainer 134 times, despite 2 international trips and an in person retreat that took me away from home. I didn’t count the workouts I did on my own.
-I wanted to downsize and donated or sold 800 items throughout the year, plus I made over 250 baby burp rags that I donate to a charity.
-I also published my print book on Amazon.
There are also a handful of smaller goals I added throughout the year like flossing every day (which made my dentist very proud), taking the dogs to the park, following the Whole30 program and eating breakfast every day (something I used to be terrible at doing).
What didn’t work
First of all, none of these goals are particularly life shatteringly unique. Most people will have some version of be healthier, read more or declutter on their personal lists.
What definitely didn’t work for me, over years of trying, was following some guru’s advice on how to do it all. They were either wildly out of touch with my circumstances or too rigid. It’s fun and interesting to see how a home-schooling mom of 3 who bakes bread at 4am and runs marathons for fun lives, but it’s not very helpful. In the same way you can love the lifestyles of the rich and famous, but unless you’ve got the budget for the assistant, chef, personal trainer, driver, publicist and house cleaner than it’s an exercise in frustration to adopt their schedule either.
Whether you love it or not, you’re constrained to your current circumstances and must work within them if you want to change.
For example, I would love/hate to have a personal trainer who comes to my home at 6am, drags me out of bed and puts me through the paces with equal amounts of tough love and endless patience. Buuuuut… that’s not something readily available in my city and is prohibitively expensive. So the next best option is a package of training sessions at the local gym.
Another example! Maybe everyone you follow on Instragram swears by weekly meal prep and lays out beautiful vignettes of meals all lined up and ready for the fridge. You’re tempted, it seems like such a time saver, but it turns out that the foods you eat are best prepared fresh and really, it only takes 5 minutes or so. Should you really change what you like to eat so you can join the meal preppers club or keep on keeping on?
We’re faced with 100 such dilemmas every time we try to change and there are 2 principles that you have to adopt before we get into the nuts and bolts of how I accomplish my personal goals.
Principle #1 Discernment
In everything you do, discernment is involved. It’s the old adage “if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you too?”
We’re bombarded by ideas, inspiration, recipes, plans, vacation destinations, business tactics, book recommendations, new music and so much more on the daily. Either your ‘to do’ list becomes as long as the internet itself and you never catch up or you practice a little discernment.
Concert at the Pavillion, huh? Sounds fun but not really my sound.
New social media tool that’s going to be “amaze-balls” that everyone needs? My strategy is working for now but I’ll keep it in mind.
Great article about the constructs of race in hiring and how to recognize and dismantle them? Sounds like something I want to check out, can you send me the link?
Every. Single. Thing you do is influenced by your discernment from the specials recommendation at a new restaurant to the weather report.
The challenge with discernment is applying it in decision making around your bigger goals.
And you’re not always going to know the right path, or make the right choice and if the fear of failing keeps you from trying, that’s a whole other topic right there, friend.
But it brings us to the second principle.
Principle #2 Experimentation
Outside of scientific inquiry experimentation gets a bad rap but it is truly the best way to evaluate what works and what does not in your own life, relationships, home, body, spirit and diet.
Experimentation is one of the reasons I love the Whole30 program (and am back for another 30 day challenge this month). The Whole30 answers questions like “does dairy make you bloated?” and “are beans really bad for digestion?” for you. Not in a study of 100 people. Not in theory. But in practice. How does this food make you feel?
Now imagine applying that same sense of experimentation to the rest of your life.
Will it work to read 30 minutes a day or 4 hours on the weekend? Should I read 4 books at once or stick with one until it’s done? Is it best for me to read in a coffee shop, on a park bench or at home in bed?
Do morning workouts really energize me or should I try early afternoon? Is a zumba class going to light me up and surround me with new friends or be a source of frustration and twisted ankles? Do I need to join a gym or can I take up a jogging program and follow some YouTube videos at home?
Most people fail to move forward when they get stuck on the implementation of their goals because there are too many paths to try.
Ever Google “how to lose weight” and you’ll see what I mean. How do you know which path to follow and what will work for you unless you experiment?
If the attitude behind discernment is I trust my own judgment then the attitude behind experimentation is I don’t know everything. It’s a fine balance to keep and in turn, you might be described as stubborn and reckless but in this case, you’re playing for an audience of one. What matters is how you feel, how you’re doing at reaching those goals.
People may think you’re crazy for your dietary choices or running schedule, they may think you watch too many documentaries or need to stop chasing Pokemon but finding the pathway to reach your goals has to be more important than the opinion of the crowd.
If you truly want to reach your personal goals consider every hack, tip and “proven method” as an experiment you can either try or reject.
In that spirit, here’s what worked for me in 2017 and why:
#1 Tracking Goals via Productive app.
I’ve shared this tip before (in posts here and here) and putting my goals into Productive works because my phone is always at hand AND when I’m looking for a distraction it’s much better to check the app and see what I need to do rather than play a game or go online.
And usually it’s just short goals like flossing, making up my bed, taking out the trash or getting more steps in on my pedometer.
What worked the best for me was setting up goals to repeat as often as I needed them (weekly or daily) and setting them to the right time of day.
Favorite new habit for 2018? Setting 2500 steps by noon, 5000 steps by afternoon and 10,000 steps for the day to keep moving.
#2 Find a community to encourage you.
I routinely try out new communities to find out where I’ll meet the most like-minded people and get challenged and no longer feel any guilt dropping out of the ones that don’t work.
I prefer to have a group where I’m inspired by others (not the “best in the room” and therefore coaching everyone else) and a fairly active place where lots of conversations take place.
I already mentioned Goodreads for tracking books I’m reading but I got the inspiration for a book a week via the subreddit 52 books. Seeing people who regularly read 100 or more each year is inspiring!
#3 Share without bragging.
I like the idea of public accountability but I despise the incessant bragging and tedious posting that social media encourages. For me that means no gym selfies or pictures of me taking out the trash. What I do share is aimed at sharing to inspire or inform.
I’ve really enjoyed tracking the books I read via Instagram and sharing new recipes I’ve tried on the Whole30 but most of my daily habits are just done quietly. Privately. Without fanfare.
Personally, if every cup of tea or pushup needs announcing there’s a much bigger issue around external validation. Remember our principle of discernment? Doing a habit for you should be enough.
One of the reasons to share, if you’re a more private person, is that you’ll find that friends and family encourage you along the way – especially if you’re willing to share the struggles alongside the success.
#4 Give yourself grace.
Finally, it’s the first of the year. Everyone is excited and their calendars are empty, hopes are high and there’s nothing gonna stop me now- until something does.
You’re going to get sick, have a water leak, miss an appointment, run out of gas, lose your receipt, forget about something in the fridge until it’s mushy and stinks… life will happen. Shit will happen.
This year, this week, is not lost if you’re not 100% perfect and, since you’re doing these personal goals for yourself (right?), the only person who needs to forgive and grant you grace is you.
The goal is not perfection, it never has been. The goal should always be personal growth. Take risks, experiment, try new things and you’re going to fail – if you’re not failing then you’re likely not reaching high enough.
When you fail, give yourself grace. Then, get right back into the habit or routine or task and try again.