The curtains will soon fall on the year 2016. Many people have the habit of coming up with what they refer to as New Year resolutions.
I have found this not to work well for me. I can have wonderful resolutions but I rarely manage to keep them going long enough for any lasting change to take place.
I have found setting clear goals
and putting down a plan or a road map to make those goals a reality to be the most effective way to bring about change in my life.
As we prepare to welcome the New Year 2017, this is the ideal time to evaluate your life and ask yourself whether you are 100% satisfied with the life you’ve got. If you were to come to the end of your life today, would you have any regrets?
Most of us live our entire lives doing things and working on careers that our parents, teachers and friends have told us to do, not taking time to know what our talents and passions are.
In some cases children who discover and insist on following their talents are seriously discouraged by even their parents and teachers. Some are harassed and called disobedient and disrespectful.
It is very common here Kenya to hear all top students saying they want to become doctors, lawyers or engineers – without much knowledge of who they are or whether that is their true calling.
Is the life you’ve got what you really want for yourself or are you living another person’s dream?
What kind of life do you have right now? What kind of life do you want to have 10 years from now?
Take a few minutes to visualize it (your family’s lifestyle, your intimate relationship, your circles, your self-image, your standing in society, etc.) Describe it as vividly as possible. Use sketches/illustrations/images in your journal/notebook/scrapbook, if possible.
> Are you married?
> Do you have children?
> Are your children in school?
> What sort of home do you want for your family? Will you buy it or build?
> What schools/universities do you want for your children?
> How do you want to impact society?
>What legacy do you want to leave behind when your time on earth is up?
One year is a very short time so I do not work with one year goals. A decade is realistic when it comes to bringing about real change in one’s life.
I therefore always begin with 10 years segments when I work on goal setting, and then break it down into manageable portions. You can achieve a lot in 10 years if you have clear goals and are focused.
Break down your 10-year goals into smaller, manageable targets. (Annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily and if possible, hourly goals).
To ensure that you achieve the results you desire, divide your daily goals by the number of hours you are willing to put in daily towards achieving those goals. That will enable you to come up with specific daily goals and ensure efficient management of your time.
Use a diary, a journal and a daily-to-do list to enable you make effective use of your time. There is nothing like being too busy to achieve one’s dreams. Examine the way you spend your time every day. You work 8 hours a day, sleep 8 hours and have 8 hours to yourself (eating, commuting, personal care, recreation/ relaxation, socializing, etc.)
How can you make better use of your time? How can you seal the black holes that steal your time? For example, what do you listen to in your car in the traffic? Could listening to an audio book instead of music or radio have a positive impact on your efforts to transform your life?
Could you read something while sitting in traffic in public transport, while waiting in queues at supermarkets, doctor’s clinic, etc.?) Tablets and smartphones have made it easy to read anywhere and at any time.
“Most ‘impossible’ goals can be met simply by breaking them down into bite size chunks, writing them down, believing them, and then going full speed ahead as if they were routine.” – Don Lancaster
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins
To achieve your goals, you have to make certain sacrifices (time, money, circles, relationships, etc.) If your goals are important to you, you will be willing to make some trade-offs.
You might have to reduce some of the time you spend on recreation and use it to do something that takes you closer to your goals. You might also need to miss out in some political discussions on radio or miss out on some soccer matches by some of your favorite teams.
If you live in a busy city such as Nairobi, examine the time you spend in commuting every day and see how you can make better use of that time. Can you cut out some unnecessary trips by combining errands? Plan efficiently so that you are able to accomplish many things on one trip, reducing the number of trips you need to make every week.
How can you bring about positive change into your life by ensuring efficiency in the way you use your time? Are there things you can accomplish without having to commute? For example, can you make use of online marketing platforms for some purchases rather than commuting to shopping centers to make those purchases?
In which other ways can you make technology work for you and save you time? Take stock of all the trips you normally make to wherever and ask yourself if each and every one of those trips is absolutely necessary or some can be avoided.
What do you need to do in order to achieve your dreams? What changes do you need to make?
One answer I often get when I talk about people transforming their lives is the excuse about not having the capital to do anything outside of what one is already doing.
The truth of the matter is that this world owes no one anything! You either take charge of your life or you will become part of the statistics of people who retire poor and dependent on others, people who settle for mediocrity.
If you are employed, that job will not last forever. You will still have needs even after retirement so the sooner you plan long term for your life, the better. Don’t wait to look back with regrets, wishing that you had taken action while you still could.
Does your mindset work against you? Do you have a negative attitude such that it is natural for you to focus on what could go wrong rather than the rewards you stand to enjoy when it actually works out?
That mindset is not serving you so better do what it takes to change it or you are at risk of looking back with regrets someday. Read books about positive thinking.
Watch videos on YouTube. Listen to audio books. Read autobiographies of successful people and learn from their own journeys. Attend forums and listen to others who have taken action and learn from their experiences. Learning from the experiences of others shortens your learning curve.
Does fear hold you back? Confront that fear. What exactly do you fear? Do you fear that you don’t have what it takes to go for your dreams? Do your research and work on yourself. Surround yourself with people who are pursuing their dreams and become one of them.
Develop a strong belief in yourself by improving yourself every day. Endeavor to consistently work on yourself so that you become better.
Have a very clear vision and be committed that you are in it for the long haul. Keep abreast with what others in the field are doing. Learn from their successes and their mistakes.
Is the excuse about not having money to enable you pursue your dreams the reason why you remain at the same spot year after year? Come up with a clear road map about where you want to go. Let the lack of money not stop you.
Look at the way you spend your money and come up with ways to become more efficient in your management of money. Cut out unnecessary expenses.
Do you buy lunch on working days? How about buying some foodstuffs wholesale at the end of the month and packing a healthy snack to take for lunch? How about waking up 30 minutes earlier than you have been doing such that you are able to take a full breakfast then you just pack some nuts and fruits for lunch?
That will free some money which could have been going into financing your lunch. There is a lot you can do to put money aside if you set your mind to it. Do you have savings? Can you put your savings into a sacco and use that as collateral to enable you borrow the cash you need to build your dream? Can you sell an asset such as your car or a plot?
If you don’t take action, you will always remain in the same place; you risk coming to the end of your life with regrets. Remember that your life is 100% your responsibility and no one is going to change it for you. Life has no remote; you have to get up and change it yourself; there are no shortcuts. Take charge of your life now!
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter. A life coach, personal development mentor and blogger.
Financial Independence Africa