Lessons for 2014
Another year has ended; a new one begins. As always, many people are spending at least some time reflecting on what they’ve accomplished in 2013, and what they want to achieve for 2014. And just as always, some resolutions for this year are probably carry-overs from the previous year.
In other words, unaccomplished goals.
I’ve always been a goal oriented person, but I don’t always accomplish all my goals. I get better each year (using some of the ideas you’ll find in this blog), but I still haven’t reached the stage where I hit 100% of my resolutions for the year. This past year there were some definite goals I had to achieve. Yet some I did, and some I didn’t. There were important lessons learnt either way.
I’d like to share with you some of those lessons.
The Importance Of A Good, Early Start
We can plan all we like, writing grand master plans and crafting ingenious blueprints. However, none of it matters if you don’t take early action.
Start on the most challenging goals first. Very often they will be the most valuable ones too.
Many people like to do the easy goals first so they can achieve a few under their belt and feel good about it. However, delaying the hard ones creates inertia. You will have difficulty initiating momentum. It also sets up a dangerous situation in which psychologically, you think you’ve accomplished a bit already, so you start to slack off. By the time you begin on the hard – and often, most important – goals, you’ll have a lot less time in which to accomplish them before the year runs out.
Make a point to kill procrastination. Look through 2014’s resolutions. Are any of these leftovers from 2013? If they are still important, start on these first. For example, I’d been putting off learning inline skating for the longest time. Time, laziness but most of all fear were my excuses. Last year I committed lessons early in the year, and because I did, I had plenty of time to take baby steps, and still make progress by end 2013.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race…
but Keep Walking!
For large goals, break them down into digestible pieces and start plugging away. When a difficult goal is broken down, it looks less daunting and more manageable. For example, I wanted to learn the piano again for the longest time. I knew there was a lot to learn because I’d forgotten everything, and I set a target to be able to play a simple Christmas song by December 25th 2013.
So I started to play a little here and there. Even when I was busy, I tried to do 5 minutes every day. I found a suitable piano teacher and eventually improved and managed to achieve this goal. Here’s my modest effort.
Very rough, but I think I’m on my way! For Christmas 2014, I aim to play a more difficult piece. Let’s see what happens!
Pay Attention to Your Progress…
Or End Up with None!
There is a flip side to breaking down goals too finely. When an audacious goal is broken up into small chunks, there is a temptation to think that you could always afford to put it off and catch up later. If something is damaging your goals, you may not feel the urgency to stop it because it doesn’t hurt as much.
A good example for me would be salsa dancing, one of those huge goals that you really need to achieve over a period of time. At the start of 2013 I created a plan that consisted of small, stress-free steps. The goal was that I would reach a satisfactory level by the time of the Singapore International Salsa Festival in November 2013, then the Sydney Latin Festival in Jan 2014. If I had followed my plan, I would have done so in a relaxing, easy manner. One or two nights dancing a week, a series of private lessons, and plenty of time to gain knowledge, accrue practice, improve, and still have energy to do everything else I wanted for 2013.
However, a couple of things destroyed my plan. To make up for lost time I tried to do more private lessons, and increased my social dancing until everything came crashing down in November. I got injured, wracked with back spasms, with nothing to show for it. I also lost energy, money, time and motivation to do other things and those things suffered. By the time I recognized what was happening and put a stop to it, much damage had been done.
Which brings me to something I think we all need to acknowledge.
It’s All On You
You can have the best laid plans for anything. Achieving a skill, losing 15kg, being able to run that 2.4km of old. However, in the end, you are responsible for your success AND failures.
Lots of people pat themselves on the back for a job well done. But with an unmet target, they start to point fingers, make accusations, blame people, and do everything they can to spare themselves the pain of accepting responsibility.
So you say something happened to screw up your plans? That you were affected by something someone did or said?
The fact is that you had the choice how you wanted to react to it.
You chose to be affected by it or not.
You chose to stand firmly by your goals and dreams or not.
You chose to subordinate your own wants to outward pressures or someone else’s demands or not.
You chose if your own Life was more important to you than someone who has acted against your best interests… or not.
Because ultimately, you reap what you sow.
Good things, bad things, or perhaps worst of all – nothing – it’s all on you.
Be Authentic –
Right Goals, Right Effort, Right Intention
As time goes by, one thing that has continually proven its importance in being happy is being authentic.
Being authentic means living a Life that is your own, according to your own principles, values, and personality. Don’t do things because you want to conform to a norm, meet expectations, avoid quarrels, placate your partner/ spouse, or because you’re afraid you’ll look bad to anyone unless it’s yourself.
This is important because it determines what you choose to do, or not do, on a daily basis. Your time, energy, and spirit are limited. The right goals are those that maximize your happiness and that of the people you love.
Do things with the right intentions. Lots of time and effort are expended for the wrong reasons. Trying to impress a boss or friend, forcing yourself to give up goals and go out with someone for fear she’ll go out with someone else, making a neighbor or rival envious, giving in to societal pressures by marrying someone just because “it’s time” … these are all drains and time sinks that don’t hurt as much when you’re in your twenties, but you’ll definitely regret when you’re in your thirties and beyond.
Are you, RIGHT NOW, doing or saying anything, stifling your creativity and your dreams, repressing your own freedom, suppressing your Life goals, subordinating your desires to someone else, for any of these reasons?
Have A Real Support System
No one is an island, and it’s important to have a strong support system to help you focus when you’re distracted, pick you up when you’re let down, and realign your values when you may have lost them.
A couple of times I’ve stumbled badly, losing sight of my long term goals, expending energy on situations that returned only negativity, and enduring psychic stress that threatened not just my dreams but my health.
Fortunately, my support system kept me on the straight and narrow, and returned me from the edge time and again. There is nothing like people in your Life who care about your well-being and your happiness, givers who help without wanting anything in return. If you have such people count your blessings, but true to AA35 principles, be sure that you are GIVING as well as just taking from them, all the time!
Be Aware of Negative Energy Leaks
Be alert on a day to day basis whether anything is draining you slowly. Be careful when a situation is slowly but surely starting to sap your energy, your positivity, and your zest for Life. If you are unaware of this, it accumulates, and eventually it will take away your very will and spirit too.
The frightening thing is how insidious these things can be, and how they can really harm your future if you aren’t aware of them.
As a very telling example against myself, have a look at this year’s market performance.
Put bluntly, this year was a gift, and you’d have to be a genius working really hard in order to lose any money. Yet due to negative energy leaks, I was not only unable to capitalize and dramatically overperform my own modest financial goals, I made a few crucial mistakes which will have repercussions into the new year.
Constantly be cognizant about your interactions, your activities and your relationships. They should give you positive energy, add to your Life and fire you up. If they are toxic, draining and add negative energy, plug the leaks fast.
Opening Up AA35
This blog used to be open only friends, family and clients. It was also a bit of a reference for me as I lived my own Life according to the AA35 principles.
But early last year, I realised that I wanted to share the AA35 philosophy with more people. Family, friends and clients can always have access to me. This blog wasn’t the main source of information from me, and it wasn’t a paid subscription service. So I don’t think it’s unfair to open it up to everyone. I spent lots of 2013 revamping the blog to reflect and enable this.
And this year one of my goals is to evangelize the AA35 philosophy in a faster, more effective was, as I truly believe that exercise and the ability to move pain-free are key enablers for many of the things that make up a full Life. If you think any of the information will be useful to a loved one, please let them know about this blog. I hope to be able to spread the message more exponentially. Health is precious, and exercise is powerful. They underpin your ability to have a full and Happy Life.
Last year I encouraged you to “be accountable to ourselves and live Life like the world might end.”
I want to repeat this message now.
Stay young, Live Life, and have a GREAT NEW YEAR ahead!