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6 Simple Steps to Setting Goals Without Feeling Overwhelmed

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Years ago I found myself caught up in conventional wisdom (or wisdumb as I call it). I was trying to set goals in every area of my life. I had three goals for each of my five key areas: faith, family, friends, finances and fun. I added that last category only because it started with an “F” and my OCD told me five categories was a better number than four. That’s how scientific my goal-setting process was.

By the last week of December, I had designed them with beautiful checkboxes, and I permanently inserted the sheet into my planner. It made me feel great to “have it all together.” I was, after all, part of the 3% who set goals. This was going to be the most comprehensive goal-setting method ever!

Rather than becoming an overnight success, I became an overnight statistic: I was one of the 93% of people who give up on their resolutions by February. The rest of my year was spent feeling guilty every time I noticed my goal sheet in the back of my planner.

“I should do one of these.” But which one? And, how? Where do I start? Then, “Squirrel!” After trying this for a few Decembers (I’m a slow learner), I discovered a lesson in life I will never forget: if you try to focus on 15 targets at once, you will hit exactly zero of them.

I can’t remember where this system came from but I can tell you it’s a great way to overwhelm yourself. However, these types of ideas are out there in the world of goal-setting. Apparently, people even pay money to overwhelm themselves!

Since that time, I’ve learned a lot such as studying from some of the world’s greatest achievers, and putting principles and tactics to the test. I came out on the other side with a few key insights about the correct way to set goals.

So if you’re one of the small percentage of folks who set goals, especially for the new year, let me help you avoid a few years of banging your head against the wall:

1. Define your core

When most people think of setting goals, they sit down and start writing them out without having answered some fundamental questions. People who build homes don’t start with a 2×4. They pour through stacks of blueprints and renderings before picking up a shovel so they know exactly where they are going and what it will take to get there.

It’s worth an hour or two of your time. Sit down, clear any distractions and ask yourself some fundamental questions: Who are you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Your assets? What do you want? Why do you want that? Explore all your possibilities and rule nothing out. You can always clean it up later.

2. Write a lifeplan statement

Start by identifying the single most important target. If other things you are doing in your life do not align perfectly with your plan, then do not include them in your statement. When you come across new ideas and opportunities, use your lifeplan statement as your barometer to keep you on track. There can be only one most important goal at a time. In fact, when you “focus” on more than one goal at a time, it defeats the whole idea of “focus.” If you don’t believe me, try multitasking two important tasks at the same time.

Next, break out your goals into as many action items as you can. Make sure you include things you still need to learn because the odds are you don’t know how to get there (because you’ve never been there before). Categorize these notes into monthly, weekly and daily action items.

After writing your goals, determine the sacrifices you are willing to make to achieve it. Finish your lifeplan statement with your purpose, vision and values. Go deep and write honestly, clearly, and powerfully in the first-person, present tense. Keep in mind, this is a living, breathing document you will update and modify as needed. Keep it handy as this will become one of the most important documents of your life.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis

3. Write a dayplan on a 3×5 card

Index cards are inexpensive and just the right size. On one side, write your top five most important items, with the most important at the top. The other side is reserved for ideas so you can get them out of your head and keep you focused. Write down anything that strikes you as interesting: ideas, headlines, quotes, funny stories, etc. Carry this card around with you everywhere you go and leave it out where you can see it. Check off items as you complete them.

4. End your day holding a five-minute meeting with yourself

Look through the list and see what did not get done. Ask yourself: is it truly important? If the answer is yes, transfer it to tomorrow’s card. If the answer is no, cross it off and forget it. Finally, finish filling out tomorrow’s plan on a new card so you wake up to it the next morning.

End your meeting by filing away today’s card. Every few weeks, go through your stack of goal cards and transfer the ideas from paper to an online journaling system (Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.). You’ll be amazed at the ideas your brain will produce when you give it a chance.

5. Develop and religiously follow a meaningful morning routine

I can’t tell you how consistently this one habit is among high achievers. I see it again and again- it’s almost comical. Nearly without exception, successful people follow some kind of daily routine. I recommend early mornings but take your pick because how you start your day is generally how your day will tend to go. It’s more important that you do it, not when.

There are dozens of activities you could do, and there are no right or wrong answers. Whatever you chose, incorporate two things. First, exercise- the benefits are endless. Second, incorporate your LifePlan Statement by reading, feeling, and visualizing it every morning.

“Be pleasant until ten o’clock in the morning and the rest of the day will take care of itself.”- Elbert Hubbard

6. Reward yourself and celebrate your wins

Take time to recognize what you did right and don’t feel guilty for giving yourself a reward for it. As you implement this system, be patient and don’t expect everything to change overnight. It’s simple, but not easy. However, when done right, this system is powerful and will change your life. If you mess up, don’t let yourself have two in a row. Regardless of how some make it seem, success is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in this for the long haul.

How are you making sure you achieve the goals you set for yourself this upcoming year? Let us know your plans below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Matthew Wilson is an award-winning creative director, productivity geek, father of five and a partner and creative director at a Phoenix-based advertising agency. He is also a consultant, speaker and creator/founder of 3x5Goals.com, the market’s simplest goal setting system, using daily goal cards to help achievers focus on what's most important. More information can be found at www.3x5goals.com. To order a free 15-day set of cards, visit this link - 3x5 Cards.

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3 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself and Live an Optimized Life

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The secret to happiness lies in the way you live your life. People think of happiness as some destination they’ll reach when they’ve accomplished the hundred things on their life to-do list. Happiness is often associated with money, material possessions, or even great relationships. (more…)

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These 7 Daily Resolutions Can Change Your Life

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We all strive to be better every day. Most of us want a new day to bring something new, and we plan for it as well. Of course, the execution is debatable as procrastination is real and it becomes an overwhelming feeling at times. Also, not to forget the customary practice of making resolutions on new year’s eve!  All of us are fascinated by the thought of preparing long lists of resolves to mark the beginning of a new year. Not sure how many people are able to translate these resolutions into functional realities. (more…)

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4 Reasons Why Content Is Pivotal For Mental Health Healing

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One of the most important things for an entrepreneur’s mental health is expressing their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. This is where content creation and writing becomes pivotal. Whether you read something that resonates with you or you write a compelling blog post, the act of expressing yourself through content can help to put a smile on your face and make you feel better about things.

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend as much time taking care of their mental health as they should. Over the course of your career, you will experience a lot of ups and downs; these emotions have the potential to take a toll on your mind and body if you don’t learn to manage them properly.

Here are four reasons why expression through content is pivotal for healing, slowing yourself down, and giving yourself grace when the going gets tough.

1. Content can be a form of self-expression

When you are an entrepreneur, you frequently face feelings of insecurity, doubt, fear, apathy, and exhaustion, just to name a few. Some days it feels like no one is on your business’s side and everyone else has it all figured out. On those days some of us try to look at our website’s analytics to cheer up. 

But an even more freeing task is creating content. You create content to improve your business and reach more people’s lives. But, there is something special that happens when you write with the intention of expressing your thoughts and feelings — you open a door to yourself. 

Content is inherently personal, which means content creators open themselves up when they share their thoughts on a platform. Everything from the title of the post, the keywords they choose to include, and even the content itself helps you to understand who the author of that post truly is. And as an entrepreneur, this can be an important experience because it allows others to empathize with you.

2. Self-reflection will lift you up

As you think through what to write about and how to express yourself, the process of self reflection is a valuable step you need to go through. You’re able to reflect on the blessings you have, assess what you learned from the negative experiences, and create a plan on how to maintain the positive experiences you’ve had. 

There are a few ways that self reflection can help you with mental health healing. The act of reflecting on your experiences helps to create clarity in feelings, thoughts and emotions which will eventually lead into acceptance for what has happened or is happening currently without feeling overwhelmed by it all. This process also leads people towards finding new things they enjoy doing. Self reflection is therapeutic and can be implemented anytime you feel the need to overcome overwhelm.

“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day.” – Hal Elrod

3. A sense of belonging and camaraderie

It is important to have a support network of people who will listen and understand what you are going through. When you post a blog or upload a video on YouTube, there are others who feel the same way and experience a sense of connection with you.

When you put time, attention and thoughtfulness into your writing, it is amazing when someone reads what you’ve written and comments on it thanking you or expressing how they resonate with what you’re going through. It’s hard to put into words how powerful it feels when someone who has gone through the same experience and reads your words then reaches out.  There is power in expression but miracles happen when people bond over a similar experience.

4. Library of content to share with more people

It can be very difficult to know what content to share with people as the symptoms of mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.) vary from person to person. But as you accumulate more and more content, this will increase the number of articles or videos available for readers to choose from depending on their specific purpose. It also builds your personal library of resources you’re able to share to different people you encounter or engage directly with.

As chaotic and distracting social media can be, it can also be a beacon of hope with the right content. Many people share viral posts, or content that interest them. Since your content is valuable and personal, the more you share it, the more likely it is to be shared with the right audience.

You never know who is watching (reading)

Your content is speaking to someone and even though they may not be actively engaged, their experiences with your work are impacting them. Think about the last time you watched TV: did everyone in the room have something entertaining to say? 

You never know who’s watching because there’s always somebody reading your posts or viewing your videos-even if they just skim through it briefly. This is why creating content worth consuming is critical, not only to get you out of your funk, but also to serve your audience.  Be authentic and stay true to yourself; make every post count as an opportunity for connection with your best self and for potential readers to bond with you.

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5 Ways To Invest In Yourself and Change Your Life

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Warren Buffett once said, the best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Time and money spent on bettering yourself are never considered a waste. Whether it’s through learning how to make money online, exploring new ways to increase your financial security, or watching TED talks to expand your knowledge. Do not be stingy when it comes to self-improvement because it will definitely pay off in the end. 

Need some ideas to get started on your journey to becoming a better you? Here are 5 ways to invest in yourself and transform your life. 

1. Change Your Self-Concept

Having a negative self-concept can have a tremendous impact on your life. Limiting beliefs and self-doubt are some of the main reasons why many never achieve or attempt to pursue their dreams. Take a moment and think about all the negative thoughts you have repeated to yourself throughout your life. How have these thoughts impacted the way you live life? From now on, create a new self-image by turning these negative thoughts into positive ones and appreciate your good qualities. 

2. Sign Up For An Online Course

If you’ve been wanting to brush up on your Photoshop skills or learn how to code professionally, this is the perfect time to get started. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can access an endless amount of valuable information online. For example, sites like Coursera and Youtube are both awesome resources for online learning. With a few search strings and clicks, you can find all the information you need. 

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” – Robin Sharma

3. Learn From a Mentor

No matter which stage of your life you are currently in, working with a mentor can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Not only can they guide you in the right direction, but also transform your vision, provide you with new insights, and connect you with amazing resources. If you’re feeling unmotivated or unsure about what you want to do in life, consider finding a mentor to help you navigate this process. 

4. Start A Side Hustle

The salary from a 9-5 job would rarely allow you to reach your maximum income potential. Why not achieve financial success while pursuing your passion by starting a side hustle? Whether it’s through starting an ecommerce business, freelance writing on the side, or starting a Youtube channel. There are infinite numbers of ways to make money, and there is bound to be one out there that fits your passion and skills. 

5. Nourish Your Body

As many may say, “health is the new wealth”. Without a healthy and functioning body, living a fulfilling and comfortable life becomes difficult. To take care of your body and prioritize your wellbeing, start with small habits such as eating healthier foods and exercising regularly. Bike or walk to work instead of taking the car, and opt for a healthy protein bowl instead of greasy burgers at Burger King. With time, these small habits can make an incredible difference.

Check out the infographic below, to see more ways you can invest in yourself:

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