Getting Back on Track

I should be ashamed to admit it, but we drove ...

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Have you ever set a goal…and failed?

At some point, it happens to all of us.   After all, our reach should exceed our grasp, right?   That doesn’t make it easy to admit failure, or to correct it.   Did you let a New Year’s resolution lapse, or slip off of a diet?   Have you started shopping indiscriminately again, or stopped going to the gym?

It’s okay if you did, but it’s time to fix it.

How can you get back on track after failing a goal?

1.  Pick a day to start over.

Just like when you first started towards your goal, you have to decide when you’re going to get back on board.    If you can’t decide, just pick the beginning of the next month.   A new beginning is a great time to tackle your new beginning.

2.  Recommit.

You failed once.  Accept it and move on.  Past behaviors don’t have to be an indicator of future performance.   Just do better this time.

3.  Announce it.

Somebody has noticed that you aren’t on the wagon.   Your coworkers are seeing you eating candy, or your spouse has noticed you buying things you don’t need.  Talk to these people.  Tell them you’re going to redo the things you’ve undone.  You’ll change the world, but you have to start with yourself.

4.  Don’t be ashamed of your lapse.

Unless I have seriously misjudged my audience, you are human.  Humans sometimes make poor decisions.  Being ashamed won’t help you, but take the opportunity to learn from the past.  Do you know what caused you to fail?  Are there triggers to your behavior that you can avoid this time around?  When I quit smoking, I tried to avoid rush hour, because I smoked heavily while I drove and I wanted to avoid being in car for as long as possible, minimizing one of my triggers.   What cause your lapse, and can you avoid it?

5.  Don’t do it again.

This one should be the most obvious, but the fact that it’s a problem means it’s not.   Do whatever it takes to not make the same mistakes and uphold your goals.  Don’t smoke.  Don’t eat garbage.  Exercise more.  Whatever you’ve decided to do or not do, do it….or not.

Have you missed a goal?  How have you picked it back up?

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Getting Out of Bed

Costa Rica... No artificial ingredients!
Image by Wha’ppen via Flickr

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?  Is it so you can exercise the privilege of spending 8 hours in a cubicle?

I didn’t think so.

In Okinawa, it’s call the ikigai.  In Costa Rica, it’s the plan de vida.  It’s your sense of purpose–the reason you get out of bed in the  morning.  In these cultures, having a strong ikigai can be directly correlated to a statistically extreme lifespan*.  All around the world, the plan de vida is the single factor most likely to cause someone to feel they have lived a fulfilled life.

Do you know your ikigai?

For some people, their plan de vida is to successfully raise their children, then their grandchildren.  For others, it is charity.  Some folks are serial entrepreneurs, always looking for the next deal, the next business.  For still others, it is a collection or an urge to travel.  There are even some whose sole reason for getting out of bed(other than potty breaks) is  work.

The last category is most common with teachers, soldiers, and police.  The problem with wrapping so much of your identity up in your profession is retirement.  What do you do when your ikigai–your reason to wake up–goes away?  In Okinawa, teachers and police tend to have very short retirements because they lose their reason to for living.

What is your plan de vida, your passion?  What drives you to keep going?  Do you live to write, or to raise your children?  Do you live solely for someone else’s happiness?  When you find it, it will resonate as “this is you”.   Finding it is a deep soul-searching, not a light-hearted explanation or a new fad.

Your reasons can, and should, change over time.  You can’t live for raising your children years after they have grown up and moved away.  Finding  this one factor in your life can be the thing that leaves you on your deathbed looking back with a smile instead of regret.

What is your plan de vida?

* From The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest

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New Year Goals

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions.  They are generally drunken promises made  on December 31st that are broken by the middle of January, if they are remembered at all.  I don’t make resolutions.

My goal for 2010 is to complete one major self-improvement project each month.  That’s an entire year of 30-day projects.   As each month goes on, I will be updating this blog with the status of each project.  Some of the projects will be physical, some will be mental, some will be improvements on my relationships.  My goal is to do something meaningful, useful and challenging each month.

Here’s my list:

  • January:   Wake up at 5am AND read to my kids every night before bed.
  • February:  Do 100 push-ups at one time by the end of the month.  There is also a secret project this month.  I’ll be keeping notes and posting in March.
  • March:  Do 100 sit-ups at one time by the end of the month.
  • April:  Spring Cleaning.  I will declutter every room in my house this month.
  • May:  Have a sit-down dinner with my family, at the dining room table at least 3 times per week.
  • June:  No computer use, while anyone else in the family is awake, except for household necessities, such as bills.
  • July:  Write fiction every day.
  • August:  Buy nothing new this month.
  • September:  Attempt to learn a new language.
  • October:   No yelling at the kids.
  • November:  No complaining.  Not at home, not at work.
  • December:  I will have done 14 projects this year.  December is a month off.