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August 15, 2022

GGGL: Plan to Change Your Life 01

By Writer Gypsy

How many times have you tried making and keeping New Year's resolutions only to find yourself slipping back into old habits by January 10th? I know I have. Yet we all have goals and dreams. We just have no idea how to set ourselves up for success. Yet setting yourself up for success isn't as difficult as you would think. In fact, it's a matter of executing three easy steps, then monitoring your progress. Sound good? This week, I'll cover step one. Step two and three will be next week.

Goals are an end result we hope to reach. This is not about goal setting or planning your days down to the minute. This system assumes that you already know what your goals are. Reaching goals more often than not requires us to make a number of small changes in the way we live. This can seem overwhelming. My system will help you make those changes.

We all have things about ourselves and our lives that we want to change. It can be a little thing like getting up fifteen minutes earlier each morning, or something huge like changing careers. Where to begin? With your goals written down, break each one down into the various changes you need to make in order to achieve that particular goal. Write each one as you think of it. Nothing is too small. But if a change seems too large, try breaking it down into smaller changes. Like pennies, alone, small changes don't accomplish much, but accumulated over time, they can make a huge difference.

Just this past January, I decided to make some changes in my life. I was putting on weight, feeling low all the time, generally unhappy with my life. The changes I wanted to make just to be healthier were numerous. Then you factor in my writing, my job, and my family, and that "to change" list could be enormous. At first, I was overwhelmed. If I tried to tackle everything at once, I knew I would fail. It's just too much.

Instead, I wrote down all the changes I wanted to make. Over fifty of them. This list included drinking more water, giving up sodas, exercising regularly, you get the picture. It also included writing daily and spending more one on one time with each of my children. Like I said, it was too much to do all at once. And trying to do too much at once sets you up to fail and feel guilty. Like a Zen master, we should try to do one thing, and only one thing, at a time.

Don't think you can just come up with a mental list to do this. You need to commit your proposed changes to paper. There is a certain magic to writing things down. They become real, concrete. That, and "I forgot" ceases to work as an excuse. This list will be a living document, constantly changing. As you make the small changes in your life, your goals and dreams may change. As they do, you will be equipped to alter your course by rewriting that list of changes. Writing them down also allows you to see how far you've come. Each step you complete can be checked off, showing you how much you can accomplish.

Have you written down your list? Take a day or two to get a true list of those changes you want or need to make to get where you want to be in life. Write them in as much detail as you can. Don't just write, "Eat healthier meals." Write, "Eat at least five servings of vegetables per day" or "Limit myself to one bite-sized piece of candy per day." You know what you want your life to be and what needs to happen to get it there.

Once I had my list done, I waited a day or so before reading it again. I recommend this to you, as well. When I did re-read it, there were a few things I could remove. They were either things that weren't very important to me or didn't seem like something I wanted as much as I might have thought a few days before. You may find there are changes you don't need or want to make, or changes you forgot to include. A few days away from your list gives you a chance to see it with new and clearer eyes.

Looking at what was left on my list (still over 30 changes), I knew I had to put them in some sort of order. In order to do that, I asked myself a few questions. Ask yourself these to help you prioritize your list:

What is most important to me?

My answer to this was: My health. Without good health, I would be in a poor position to start making other changes.

What would be the easiest or best place to begin?

I decided that my eating habits would pose a moderate challenge but weren't insurmountable.

Is this something I can do now or do I need to achieve another goal to make this possible?

For my health, my eating habits need to change first so I would get maximum benefit from exercise. And good health, as I said before, would allow me to better achieve my other goals.

When I had made the determination to start with my health, I wrote down on a clean sheet of paper all of the related changes I had written down on my original list. Do the same with yours. You may opt to group the changes by goal before you go through the questions and determine where your starting point is. Either way, it is important to do this with all of the changes you've listed. If a few fit in no particular group, you can put them in their own miscellaneous group or decide to get rid of them for the time being. The next step is to prioritize.

I assigned each small change a number based on my answers to these questions. Number one was the best one to start with, number two would be next, and so on. Then I rewrote them in number order on a fresh page. This is the Master List for that group. Do the same thing with your individual groups. I recommend writing each prioritized list on a separate page, so as they are amended and revised, you have plenty of room. As I achieve each step, I can put a check mark by it, tracking my progress. When you finish these lists, you will be able to do the same. If you do this, at the end of a year, you should have check marks next to the first twelve changes on your list.

The last thing to do this week is to print out a blank one-year calendar for the next twelve months. It's best to use one that fits on a single page. Each month was assigned a change, starting with goal one in January through to goal twelve in December. Until next week, work on listing those goals and the changes they require, then fine tune and prioritize that list. When we meet again, I will show you what to do with that calendar.

Article © Writer Gypsy. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-08-28
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