We've all read the articles about how resolutions evaporate by this time in January. I hope that's not the case for you, but let me suggest something that is more effective than resolutions: INTENTIONS.
Do you know what your intention is for today? Do you start the day and think,
"I intend to..."
I think one of the greatest keys to success is to be INTENTIONAL. What do I mean by that? I think that being intentional means to be clear and committed to what you want to accomplish. Of course, you need to respond to telephone calls and emails and you need to have "down time." Let's be realistic.
My approach is to start with long-term goals: family, experiential, spiritual and influential (see Mark Batterson's book, The Circle Maker) . These kind of goals range from taking our grandchildren to Legoland in Denmark (our son isn't married, yet) to giving a TED talk. Then I review my long-term goals each year and develop annual goals by starting with the progress towards these goals that I want to achieve. Other goals come from the different roles I play, e.g., work, family, service -- and what Stephen Covey called "Sharpening the Saw," i.e., taking care of myself (yes, there's ALWAYS a weight-loss goal in there!). Then each month, I look at those annual goals and figure out the next steps to do to achieve those goals. Then each week, I look at the monthly targets and determine how to allocate my time. And that's how I get to my intention.
I might block time on my schedule to achieve that intention, or I might just make a note on a particular day (my todo lists are only day-by-day) to remind me of that intention. Do I watch TV? Absolutely (I just totally binged on The Man in the High Castle)! Am I on Facebook? Sure. But when I waste time with activities like this it's OK, because I have done what I intended to do. It's what Neil Fiore calls "guilt-free play" in The Now Habit.
Sounds too easy, right? Academic, even. So why are so many people stressed and depressed? Why is it hard for some people to retire? I believe it's a lack of intention, just going from one thing to the next. Building up the todo list. Lacking the system and support to be accountable.
Try it. Set one intention for the next week. Be realistic. Revisit it every day -- and I'll bet you'll achieve it. And at some point, set your intention to develop those long-term goals (they don't have to be perfect, they are private and you can change them) and you can drill down from there.
I hope you INTEND to let me know how it goes!
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