The first week of the year was rich with gifts for me. Among them was the gift of free time, and as I spent it happily reading and listening to teachers of all sorts, I collected a whole basket full of ideas that I get to share with you!
I sincerely hope your week brought shining gifts, too—Memorable moments that you can treasure all year through. If not, it’s a brand new week in a still-very-new year, and it’s brimming with possibilities.
We forget that because we get trapped in our routines and habitual thought-boxes. But it remains a fact that you can add more zest and meaning and joy to your life any time you decide to. Here’s a little 3-step formula I strung together from the quotes I gathered this week:
- “The first step to getting anywhere is deciding you’re no longer willing to stay where you are.” ~David Icke
Make a quick list of things that, if dropped, would make your life lighter, healthier, more like the life you want to live. You know what they are. You can probably list at least ten right off the bat. Go beyond (but include) the easy ones like exercising more, eating better, stopping smoking. Think about ways you spend time that could be invested in more creative, rewarding, or satisfying activities. Think about your relationships and what you could stop doing that keeps them from being more meaningful and authentic. What are you no longer willing to do, to be?
- Ben Stein says, “The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.”
So we have two different ideas about our first steps. Personally, I think Ben’s first step is an outgrowth of deciding what you don’t want. We know what we’re doing that’s holding us down. It’s close to home. And whether we look it in the face or not, we know on some level that it’s hurting. Identify those things, then ask yourself, “What do I want instead?’
Get real clear on this. What DO you want instead? What would that look like? How would it feel? Think about a few options for beginning to move in its direction. How will you begin? When?
An old mentor of mine often said that if we’re not making the progress we want and know that we’re capable of making, the reason is that our goals aren’t clearly defined. “Crystalize them,” he said. Spell out what you want in tangible terms: “I want to spend two hours more every week with my family.” “I want to lose ten pounds by March 1st.” Then decide how you’re going to do it and begin.
- Finally, the real key to making it happens is in this quote from Jim Rohn: “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Okay, I know that “discipline” isn’t a warm and fuzzy word. But the root of it is the same as the one for “disciple,” a follower. When you’re disciplined about moving toward your goal, you’re following your own vision of what and whom you want to be. It doesn’t mean you have to attain perfection all at once. It means you keep moving, one little step at a time, one hour, one day at a time, in the direction that you’ve chosen to go. Some days you’ll make leaps and bounds. Some days you’ll fail altogether. Discipline means you keep going, that you keep your eyes on the prize.
I’ll close with a key phrase that has served me well when I’ve chosen to make changes in my life. It turns on my sense of daring and adventure, so it gives me a delicious sense of courageous nonchalance. It’s these simple two words:
Wishing you soaring dreams and the gumption to pursue them.