Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why wait for 2012? Do it now!

As a part time fitness instructor, I observe people who start attending my classes regularly in January and disappear by February. I often wonder: Why did they give up so quickly? I believe one reason they give up is because most have made resolutions that are not well thought out. While I don't make resolutions, I do refresh my life goals every year.

Life goals should be consistent with your personal brand. What three words represent who you are or what you want your legacy to be? How will you get there? Who do you need in your life to help you get there? These are just a few questions to ask yourself. It's never too early or late to start thinking about your life goals. 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 things decreases your chance for follow-through. Each goal I set affects one broad area of my life. Once again, I have set specific 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 March 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 2012:

#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, not just going on a mission trip. It's good to see the faces of those you help in your own community. There are many needs close to home that we simply ignore everyday. You might even conduct a random act of kindness. 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. Determine 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 each week are you spending using social media and for what purpose? Social media should never replace face to face conversations with real human beings. Are you spending too much time online and not enough time with family, friends or networking? You'll be pleased when you spend less time tweeting or Facebook stalking and more time talking to people in your life. Use social media to educate, build community and learn. Just remember, that meaningful, lasting relationships are built in person.

#3 – Avoid toxic people(or being toxic). Be deliberate in decreasing contact and conversations with people who gossip, complain and constantly criticize others. I am disturbed by people have no depth to their conversation unless they are criticizing others or discouraging possibility thinking. Seek to avoid these conversations and those who initiate them. Seek to avoid being the person who starts these conversations. I try to encourage whenever possible, but I will more often than not deflect conversations when people gossip about others. No one wins in those conversations and its just wrong. I want to surround myself with nutritious people. Be green and growing, (YUM!) not ripe and rotting (BLEH!).

#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. These may be very basic things like: kindness, integrity, honesty, encouragement, forgiveness, etc. Go to a place where you can share in healthy fellowship  and grow spiritually. Don't focus on a religion, focus on your relationship with God.

#5-Move your body--intentionally and regularly. If you have been sedentary, don't start working out like a crazy person on January 1, 2012. Be consistent (4-5 times per week) with exercise. Often setting a goal to run a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon by a certain date will help. You don't need to buy elaborate fitness equipment or cut out all carbs. Just be consistent. Watch your portions of food. I'm also learning that rest and finding simple joy in life is important too. Build in time to renew and relax as well. It matters.

You can start doing these things today, why do you think you have to wait for the New Year? Do it now. Try writing out three goals right now so you can be fit in body, career and spirit for an outstanding 2012! Blessings.