At the beginning of each new calendar year, many people make “resolutions. What they are attempting to “re-solve”, I don’t know – especially if they already did or did not “solve” it the year before. Setting “goals” is all well and good, but is best done when one FIRST considers the “role” a person is/will be in – as this has a tremendous influence on if/how goals are accomplished. An appropriate “role” is one that “fits”, “fulfills”, or at least “expresses” a person’s “soul”. First things first does not necessarily mean in the order that many people assume.
Putting first things first would mean starting with being in touch with your soul, matching it with an appropriate role, and only then matching it with (and setting) a goal. Clarity itself may not actually be power, but it certainly can increase it in many ways). What’s most important to you (to be, do, have) – today, this week, month, year, decade, life? Differentiate between the important and the merely urgent.
Resolutions are a lot like promises to oneself. What does it mean when you don’t keep your promises – even to yourself? Whatever your answer, it’s probably not good. Robert Fulghum suggested listing all the good things you did over the past year, and then turning them into resolution form and backdating them – so you can feel better about New Year’s resolutions.
Some people use “affirmations” as mental reminders or attempts to program themselves with what to think or feel. Unfortunately, more often than not, most people fail to live up to their own aspirations (and attempts to consciously “condition” themselves). More powerful and “accountable” than “affirmations” are (public) “declarations”. Instead of (just) privately “resolving” to do something this year, boldly (and publicly?) “declare” your intention(s), and act as if it were already so until it is. Rather than “reverse engineer” from where you want to be to where you are and then step by step moving in that direction, just start doing what a person who already is, does or has would in any given moment. Love and accept yourself wherever you are – and every step of the way as you change, knowing that there is no such thing as “perfection. Imperfect action is always “better” than perfect inaction and what actually exists and/or happens in the “real world” is more important than what’s only in your mind, imagination, or plans.
Anything worth doing is worth doing – even poorly (at least at first), because it’s getting done. With very few exceptions, it’s more important to just get started and learn, improve, and make corrections as you go. I suggest writing out a variety of empowering declarations for each area of your life to remind yourself of what you envision/desire yourself being, doing, having (as though it were already true), and then reading and repeating out loud whatever you wrote on a regular basis until you believe it and begin to see it become true.
Having a calender, schedule, and/or “to do” list is helpful for some people, and can give a certain sense of accomplishment as things as either checked or crossed off. Yet what really matters most, and will make the most difference in our lives, often can not be accomplished in a short period of time – and would remain (at the TOP) of each daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly list – hopefully to receive priority of time, energy and attention, no matter what else is on the list.
The most important things need be done first – or they will probably not get done at all (since there are almost always lots of “urgent” and/or “distracting” matters of lesser importance to do instead). Some people use the “big rocks method” – planning by placing what’s most important first (to ensure they fit), and then filling in all around them. Big tasks can be “chunked” into multiple smaller more manageable ones. Sometimes using a timer and working on something for only a short period and then either taking a break or doing something else will make it seem less overwhelming.
The human brain tends to only be able to concentrate for a limit period before loosing focus; so frequent breaks and variety are actually more efficient than long periods of uninterrupted time/activity. An “ideal” block of time is about 45-50 minutes followed by a 10-minute break. During the break some physical activity (like stretching) is usually beneficial. After two or more consecutive periods of concentrated activity and 10-minute breaks it’s a good idea to allot about 20-minutes to eat and recharge before resuming further work. The human body does best with frequent small meals. To make this work usually requires prior meal planning and preparation.
An important, yet often overlooked consideration in scheduling/planning is to allow transition time in between activities, and to ensure that anything needed is ready and available before starting. Another often neglected area is ensuring that you get enough sleep. Most Americans are sleep-deprived. A short afternoon nap is not part of our culture (after kindergarten), but is actually a “proven” way to increase “productivity” during the day. The same is true for even short periods of meditation/reflection. If prayer is talking to the Divine/Universe/God(dess)/Great Spirit/Higher Self, meditation is listening for a reply. Take time to listen.
If the most important things are done first, they ideally should be done as close to waking up as possible. This is where having a clear set of values and priorities is really helpful. I suggest putting your (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) health high on your list.
I like to exercise in the morning. If I wait, it often does not get done. Other than oxygen, the most important things the body needs is water. We dehydrate during sleep, so soon after waking, even before exercising, I drink 8-10oz of water with some flavored protein powder. I find that I do best meeting my physical needs first, but some people choose to meditate or read something inspiring, or just reviewing what they are grateful for to start their day. Whatever you choose, make it set a positive, empowering tone for whatever follows (the rest of the day, week, month, year).
Having a plan or at least general idea of what you plan to do certainly saves time and allows for “progress” (instead of getting “distracted’ and “sidetracked”). What are your priorities? What’s an ideal day (or life) look like for you? How do you start your day(s)?
Life is basically just time and relationships – including the one(s) you have with yourself. None of us knows how much time we really have (left). It is in many ways our most precious resource. But what matters more is the quality of our relationships. Again a clear hierarchy of importance can be helpful.
Although I am not always completely consistent, my basic rule is that the (current) woman in my life is my highest priority (after my own well-being). Then come my children – in order of birth. This is quite different than what many mothers choose, but I think that while children sometimes require more time, care and attention, MY adult partner will always be more important (even if I am unsure of how long she will actually be there). Similarly, even though younger children sometimes need more attention, they are not more important than those that were there first. Many businesses forget this, chase after new prospects, and ignore their existing customers. I don’t want my older children to think they were less wanted or important with each new birth. The younger ones will not feel second best. They will, instead, see how it is to be treated as they grown older.
I love my children, but they are not the center of my world; neither is my “mate” – but as my “partner”, she is as important to me as I am. Both she and my children are welcome (and potentially included) in all aspects of my world, without competing with what exists before, after and independent of them/their presence. If my mate had children that were not “mine”, or we adopted, fostered or otherwise had other children, their place (in my life/mind) would depend upon my relationship with (their mom and) them. If I had a parental role, they would be considered as my own. If not, they would be more like any other child I might meet. If I had pets or animal companions, they would come after my kids.
After my children come my parents. First my father, and then my mother. I put my dad first for two reasons. First, he has a greater emotional investment and commitment to me; and second, as a father myself, I am modeling what I would like for myself. I am attempting to “balance” the (over-?) importance that mothers play in the life of their children. After my parents come my friends, (personal and business) associates and acquaintances. Real life people come first; virtual-friends and cyber connections, last.
After “close” friends, key customers and clients, any “in-laws”, and before people I really don’t know (well) would come my sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, niece, cousins, and their children (in order of frequency of contact). I’m sure there are lots of other categories and individuals that may not fit neatly in this scheme, but overall, it works fairly well for me.
Your social hierarchy may be quite different from mine. That’s fine. It’s your life. I hope you (“resolve” to) make it one you love and this the best year of your life (so far). Even if you are “just” a virtual acquaintance, I VERY much appreciate your reading this (and as a result) being part of my life. People who comment and give kudos are more meaningful to me than “lurkers” who only read and leave. I’m open to being “real” friends, too, if you are. So don’t be a stranger. I’m strange enough for both of us….
It has been said that “people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” I am most grateful for others’ desire/attempts to contribute to my life. If I may be of service or assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to let me know.
© 2010 – 2014, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.