Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

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Just a few more hours until we are ringing in the New Year on the west coast. This will be my first west coast new year and I have chosen to ring it in mildly, playing cards with friends. Tomorrow, should I wake in time, I plan to hike the Golden Gate Bridge with about 300 others, I thought it sounded like a cool way to celebrate the first day of another year. It is also approx an 8 mile hike to the mid point and back and I, like many, am trying to get more healthy this year.

I have been reading a new book this week, Life in Half a Second, by Matthew Michalewicz. There really could not be a more perfect book to end the year and begin anew, as we all plan for the year ahead, resolve to change our lives and get healthy, spend more time with family, see the world, work more, work less, whatever your resolutions are.

Matt talks about the way most of us plan to do things tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. But, what would you do right now if you had only one year to live? Why are you putting it off? It is true, we wait until we are financially stable, we wait until our kids are born, or grown or out of the house or whatever the case may be. But the truth is we never know if tomorrow will come, let alone next month, next year, next decade..... Why do we constantly put off the things that mean the most to us? Why do we put our dreams aside until something else happens?

The summary of this book has been the subject of one of my other blogs which talked about aligning our lives with our goals. Maybe we should spend more time doing the things that will help us achieve the goals we want to accomplish.

For example, if one of your resolutions is to spend more time with family, first off, you need to be more specific. Do you want to have dinner with family three times per week or do you want to have a day-outing once per month? What specifically does that goal look like? I have long been a proponent of using business planning ideas to achieve personal goals and Matt goes about it in a similar manner. You need to make SMART goals Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Reachable-Timely. So, be specific about your goals and then, start breaking that up into smaller tasks that will get you there.

Skeptics often say that resolutions are too often broken soon after the new year is under way, but what if we really set reasonable goals, with a specific plan to get there, visualize what that goal looks like, meditate on that goal frequently and take steps towards that goal regularly. I think we could all be a little more successful in our resolve to change our lives if we look at them more like business and have regular meetings with ourselves (prayer, meditation, journaling) to see how we are measuring up with our plan. This has proven a successful strategy for business and successful individuals the world over. Does that TV show you are watching align with your goal? How about this blog, as much as I wouldn't want to lose you as a reader, does reading this somehow propel you on your way towards financial independence, travelling the world, losing weight, spending more time with family or whatever your goal is? Of course the goals I just listed are not specific enough to be SMART goals, but you get the idea of where I am going with it.

As we turn out the lights on 2014 and look ahead to 2015 with bright eyes and big hopes, don't just say you want to get healthy this year, say I will lose 50 pounds this year. Then break it into smaller steps like, I will eat a high fat and protein and low carb diet this month and I will do high intensity interval training once per week this month. The take the next step, make your menu plan and your grocery list for this week, set yourself up for success, put exercise on your calender, make time for yourself. If you are a priority in your own life, consider taking stock in what you are doing to make yourself a priority. If financial independence is your priority this year, does spending $3,00 a day on a latte propel you in that direction?

Matt tells a good story in his book about time and money. I think I will use the example with my kids. My son works a part time job for minimum wage and easily blows his entire paycheck in the blink of an eye. Using Matt's idea, that PS4 he just had to have, as soon as he could... would not just equate to $350, but a 40 hour work week. He will have to spend 40 hours of his life unloading trucks and helping obnoxious customers to get that PS4. Now when he looks at it this way, he really sees the value of a dollar. Understanding that he is trying to save for a car, college and his own pad, maybe that PS4 isn't so enticing anymore. Maybe it is, only he can decide.

So, as I write my last post for the year and head out to ring in the new year with friends and family, I intend to contemplate, at least for a little while what my goals really are and what would I do if this were my last year? What would you do if tomorrow were the first day of your last year? Does the year look different when you think of it that way? Just food for thought...

Happy New Year everyone!


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