Wednesday, December 15, 2010

5 Things to Do Now:Why Wait for the New Year?

The New Year is almost here. As a part-time fitness instructor, every year I observe people who start attending my classes regularly in January and then disappear by February. I often wonder: Why do these individuals give up so quickly? I believe one reason they give up is because most have made resolutions that are not well thought out. Especially that age old resolution: I'm going to lose weight. While I don't make resolutions, I do refresh my life goals each year.

Life goals should be consistent with your personal brand. What three words represent who you are or who you want to be? How will you get there? Who do you need in your life to help you get there? These are just a few of the questions to ask your self. It's never too early or late to start thinking about your goals. A fit body is just one part of the equation.

I typically set no more than three major life goals each year. There is no real magic in the number but research indicates that trying to focus on more than three goals decreases your chance for success. Each goal I set affects one broad area of my life. This year, I have set specific, measurable goals in these broad areas: faith, fitness and career. You most likely already know what you want to improve or change, just make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound. Instead of saying: I will lose weight this year. Why not say: I will lose 10 pounds by February 28 by exercising five times per week. When stated and written that way, the goal passes the SMART test.

Whether it’s your health or career, here a few things you can do now to set you on a path to acheive your goals for 2011:

#1 – Volunteer for a cause that matters to you.
During the holidays, we focus on helping the homeless, hungry, needy, etc. But remember these conditions exist year round. Whether you are out of work or even if you work fulltime, it is refreshing to help others. Not just people you know, but strangers too. Do it without expecting anything in return. From serving as tutor, to serving in a soup kitchen the opportunities are endless to give of your time and talents everyday, not just during the holidays. Its good to see the faces of those you help. You might even conduct a random act of kindness anonymously. Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-thru line. Even if it's a minivan filled with a large family! Take your mind off yourself for a while and watch what happens.

#2 – Become wiser about social media.
Many of us have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Some of us even blog. Each of these tools can and should be used in different yet complimentary ways. Ask yourself how you will use social media more effectively and strategically this year. Whether its for your business or your personal brand, what does your digital footprint say about you? How much time per week are you spending using social media and for what purpose? Social media should never replace face to face conversations and connecting with human beings. Are you spending too much time with these tools and not enough time with family, friends and networking? Use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage multiple accounts. You'll be pleased when you spend less time texting, tweeting or stalking Facebook and more time talking to people in your life. Use social media to educate, inform to build community and learn. Just remember, that meaningful,lasting relationships are built in person.

#3 – Avoid toxic people.
Be deliberate in avoiding surrounding yourself with people who gossip, complain and constantly criticize others. While economic times have been difficult for many, change your focus by counting the blessings you have that money can't buy. I am disturbed by people have no depth to their conversation unless they are criticizing others or discouraging possibility thinking. These people cause a drag on my spirit. Seek to avoid these conversations and those who initiate them. I will always try to encourage whenever possible, but I will choose to deflect conversations when people become critical or gossip about others. No one wins in those conversations and its just wrong. I want to surround myself with nutritious people. Yum! Be green and growing, not ripe and rotting. Yuck!

#4-Dig deeper spiritually.
If you already have a strong faith, go deeper. As a Christian, I find wisdom in reading the Bible each day and peace in praying for others. If you go to church, try practicing some of the principles and concepts discussed by your pastor, preacher or spiritual leader. I find this especially important at work or while you are searching for work. This may be very basic things like: kindness, integrity, honesty, encouragement, forgiveness, etc. Go to a place where you can share in healthy fellowship with others and grow spiritually. Don't focus on a religion, focus on your relationship with God.

#5-Move your body--intentionally and regularly.
We all know we need to exercise for good health. There are many resources on the internet and in our local communities to help. I could offer specific tips here but you know what the basics are: eat less, exercise more. Not always easy but who said…uh…just do it? If you have been sedentary don't start working out like a crazy person on January 1. Start strong and finish the year strong. Be consistent (4-5 times per week). Set a goal to run a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon by a certain date. You don't need to buy elaborate fitness equipment or cut out all carbs. Just be consistent. I'm finally learning that rest and finding simple joy in life is important too. Build in time to renew and relax as well.

You can do any of these things this week, why wait for the New Year? Try writing out three goals right now so you can be fit in body, career and spirit! Because I know you can! I'd love you to leave your comments below. Warm wishes for an outstanding 2011!