As we write our New Year’s resolutions, it’s worth thinking not just about what we want to achieve, but also what can get in the way of that and how we can avoid that happening. This new year, millions of people will once again claim that they will lose weight or get control of their finances, but how many actually will come up with a specific plan? How many pounds will they lose by when? How much money will they save by when? And how many people will come up with a plan for how to deal with push back, like friends thwarting your new eating plan because they miss hanging out and eating junk with you, or family members who like to shop or go on expensive vacations with you when you need to pay off debt and save for retirement?
One of the best things I learned years ago in my financial life was to have a clear plan outlining how much we made, how much we spent– tracking every single expense every day for over twenty years, which may be boring but is really helpful–and what we valued in terms of spending, such as education and travel instead of fancy clothes and cars. But I realized as ten pounds crept on in the past few years, that I didn’t have the same clear plan and “road map” when it came to fitness and health. It took me a while to realize that I need to treat my fitness goals the way I treat my finances. Now I’m learning to record what I eat, just as I keep note of what I spend. I’m also preparing for contingencies with “Plan B” work-out videos at home for days when there’s a storm outside and I can’t get to the gym.
What’s even more important in this new year is notice the things in general that are getting in the way of the life that you want. Now is the time to assess what works and what doesn’t. Do you have supportive friends and family members who inspire you, or do you feel as though you do all the listening and giving? It is true that opposites attract but not always in a good way. If you are a great listener who is naturally generous, it’s essential to watch out for people who love to talk endlessly about themselves and ask for favors and take advantage of your good will. We all know how it feels to have people talk and/or brag continuously. It leaves us feeling drained and annoyed. Having boundaries here isn’t cold; it’s essential for protecting your spirit.
Beyond relationships, it’s important to ask if you like where you live, how you spend your time, and the work you do. Do you feel as though you’re making a difference? If not, now is the time to think about changes you can make, starting with surrounding yourself with positive people who want to help you and who inspire you to do great things. I often ask clients to think about the scenario that they have a year to live and have to decide how to spend their time and with whom. Some people end up realizing that they are living someone else’s values—with all the trappings of success (big house, nice cars), but that they are not inspired and fulfilled and surrounded by people who build them up. This can be a rude but important awakening. I also ask clients to imagine being very old and looking back at their life and describing all the things that made it so special. This can be a wake up call for some, and for others, a sign that they are on the right path. The key to all of this is to figure out what you value and make sure that all your actions and choices are in line with those values. The worst thing is to let others choose your values by just going along with the crowd, since the crowd is often lost themselves, thinking that social media and reality TV will teach them what they need to know, which of course is not true.
To find your world stage, don’t let the worlds’ demands, your day-to-day obligations or others’ agendas get in the way of preserving your pilot light. That is the light within you that you need to protect at all costs, the way you protect the fire that keeps you warm when you’re in the wilderness. Like a pilot light that allows for a flame to burn, the metaphorical one is the one that drives your passion. You can’t let that go out and must protect it at all costs. If you do that, then the world is your oyster.