Take the Reigns
The cornerstone of a healthy life is taking responsibility for your own happiness. The balance between dreaming big while maintaining reasonable expectations is precarious, but possible, and maintaining that balance will help to keep you grounded in everyday life.
What are your goals? Is there anything about them that you need to reassess? That’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just part of life. Sometimes all that’s required is a bit of quiet reflection and a healthy dose of realism to get your dreams off the ground.
What follows is a four-week plan to a more goal-oriented you. The point of this exercise is to cut through all of the daily chatter rumbling around in your brain and the outside world about what your life should look like so that you can start communicating with yourself on a soul level. Once you’ve done that, you can set new goals with true, authentic self-satisfaction in mind. All you’ll need is a journal and about a half hour a day of quiet to reflect. It may seem terribly simple, but the very act of genuine self-exploration can have a profound effect on your life if you let it!
Week 1: Define Yourself
For the first seven days, begin by writing down the words “I am” in your journal and then filling in the blank. Do it repeatedly – at least ten times each session. At first it may just be a running list of items related to your everyday – that’s okay. The idea is that you have to air your grievances to move past them. On the flip side, you often need to acknowledge your good qualities in order to really appreciate (or maximize) them (I am exhausted, I am brilliant, I am stressed out, I am tough.) You’ll probably notice positive and negative attributes coming out. That’s good. You need to see what is – and isn’t – working in your life (and your self-perception).
Week 2: Define Your Needs
During the second week, begin your journal with the words “I need.” Again, include at least ten items a day, whatever comes to mind, trusting that there’s value in it. (I need to reconnect with myself, I need to get in shape, I need seven hours sleep a night, I need to be more appreciative.) Whatever it is, write it down. Don’t judge your needs or censor yourself. Everything that emerges offers you valuable insight into your own mind, and maybe even into your spirit.
Week 3: Assess Your State
In week three, change your phrase to “I have.” As time has passed you’ve probably noticed that your lists have begun to change from itemized lists of daily events or emotions to more profound observances. (I have begun to realize that I am responsible for my own happiness, I have the courage to change my life, I have a job that takes up too much time but pays the bills – I have to balance that.) Hopefully, you’re letting yourself ramble for a while each time you sit down because by now, your heart is talking to you.
Week 4: Create your future
In the fourth week, begin your journals with the phrase “I want,” or “I want to be.” There is only one requirement. These goals must come from what you want to feel deep down – not from what is expected of you or any external indicator. (I want to be in a job where my brain is utilized, and I enjoy what I do, I want to work creativity back into my life by painting again, I want to bring some of the excitement back to my intimate relationship.)
Putting it Together
Whether your goals stem directly from things you’ve written before or not doesn’t matter, though you should check the previous week’s entries for repeating themes. Patterns show up for a reason. For instance, if one area of your life proves lacking on multiple levels (you need space at work, you want an area of the house you can call your own, you have no time to yourself), it’s probably a good idea to prioritize addressing it. Once you’ve set your goals from the inside, you can make plans for fulfilling them. The key to your ultimate satisfaction is that the impulse will have come from your heart before you worked out the logistics in your head!
Give this exercise a try for a week, then let us know how it’s going for you in the comments.
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