I am an eternal dissatisfied and I say this with the clear intention that the Universe interprets this phrase with the best of connotations.
I barely finish a project (a course, a text, a reading) and I want to start doing version 2.0 or 3.0. This does not mean, on the one hand, that I do not appreciate the small victories of life or that I do not give myself enough merit and acceptance for my achievements.
I give myself-or at least I try hard enough. But, there are so many opportunities we have to improve, optimize and increase our capabilities. How not to want to enjoy them all?
Is there a right way?
Life has no meaning but that it is not forbidden to assign it one. Fantastic, right? I want you to begin this journey with two very important things in mind.
The first thing: you are, yes, responsible for your life. At least to some extent. You will need to take deliberate action and run after your dreams yes – no one else will do it for you.
The second thing: your ways are always open. Wrong options do not exist. You will always have choices and life itself will present you with an infinite range of options. Which one are you going to play? Which one else resonates with your will? Where is your gut telling you to go?
Nothing is going to be wasted
That phrase is written by the American writer Cheryl Strayed and it defines very well another essential idea that I want to pass to you: every day useless will give in something.
Before we start talking about goals and detailed planning, I want you to accept it. I want you to welcome yourself and allow yourself to have useless days – or even useless weeks and months.
Knowing how to make room for chaos, the unpredictable and the unexpected is always a little scary. It seems that we are not doing anything that lends. But as according to Cheryl, useless days do not exist.
They all result in a particular, precious and exotic combination. Exactly the way you are today, treading exactly where you’re treading now. No one can leave Amsterdam to London if they do not accept the fact that their starting point is Amsterdam. No goal will work if you – the only person who can do anything by your trajectory – do not accept the place you are.
The life of your dreams exists, yes
It probably will not be the same as you always imagined, of course. Destiny itself always adds a pinch or two of something that was totally out of our plans. And as incredible as your future is, you will always have to make sacrifices and tackle difficult challenges.
I am not here to put warm clothes and tell you that the path to happiness is covered with flowers, unicorns and sunny days. Sometimes, it will be prickly. But what I want to tell you is that you have the right amount of free will to build the future you want.
No matter how much external influences affect you, you have the incredible and devastating power to choose your actions. Have you stopped to think about the true power of it? Of course, the limitations exist, but I’m giving you permission to dream as much as you want. Chances are always in our favor.
The power of simplicity
We often underestimate and devalue that which is very simple. Fact! Finding complex excuses, giving deep detailed rational explanations, and using super difficult solutions to get away from what we are afraid to do are arts that we master very well, thank you.
The simple option is not always the easiest, by the way. Simplicity and ease are ideas that look alike but can be (and often are) quite different. The simplest option is one that requires almost nothing from you to give you a result in return. You feel and see the consequences of simple actions almost immediately. It is the lowest fruit on the tree, the one closest to your hand.
The easiest option, on the other hand, is the one you’re most accustomed to doing. And often, believe it or not, we use the “hard stuff” to get away from putting your hand in the dough. So I’ll tell you right away: you’ll need to get out of your comfort zone, yes. The initial steps of your journey will not necessarily be easy, but they should always be as simple as possible.
Your biggest ally, time
The only great and powerful force that will help you achieve your goals of the year is time. Remember when I told you that you can have the life of your dreams? I said this because I know that the human being is capable of very incredible and wonderful things.
We all have bills to pay, roles to play, and responsibilities that we do not want to have thrown over our shoulders. But you know what else we have? Time. And free will. Of course, time will not do the work alone. You need to help. You need to give life the right stuff so it can help you get where you want to go. It is as Jeff Olson says:
The secret of time is just this: time is the force that transforms the small, almost imperceptible and seemingly insignificant things you do every day into something titanic and invincible.
1% every day
This is where the magic really happens. As I always say: magic is in the details. Great changes do not draw attention while they are happening. No one changes from water to wine, from day to night.
The invisible, slow, and absurdly overwhelming force that is acting upon these great changes is time. And it is very clever. It acts in the thicket, away from the eyes of the world and the flashes of photographers.
Of course, I’m going to teach you, more ahead, how important it is to choose goals with immediate positive results – the kind you feel right on the skin, you know? But before that, I warn you of the following: your great goals will take time to happen. And that’s fine. How can you advance 1% toward your goals today? What is the marginal, tiny, almost laughable improvement?
Decide that you will improve your routine or your attitudes by at least 1% every day – rain or shine, be super excited or deep down – it’s your right.
Recognize your strengths
The only person you can really count on is you. I know this sounds a bit antisocial, but I need to make that clear. Realigning your goals and directing your life to where you want to go is a solitary and autonomous act.
The people around you will always help you, support you and be on your side, but who needs to supply the fuel for that rocket is you – and no one else. The following questions have been asked so that the roots of your self-confidence get even deeper and for you to recognize the good things you have achieved to date.
If you do not offer hospitality to yourself and do not celebrate your victories, do not put that expectation on top of others. This is your job.
Answer two questions below and give yourself enough time and peace to answer them:
- What are the things I do naturally well? What are my greatest abilities?
- What were my top ten hits to date? What achievements make me proud?
The seven areas of your life
Self-knowledge is a very important part of life planning and organization. If we do not stop to get to know ourselves better, evaluate what we are doing and identify patterns that live appearing in our lives, no one else will.
It’s like that map metaphor: if you do not know where you are, how will you find out where you need to go?
Opening your eyes and accepting with open arms your current reality is a prerequisite. This exercise is for you to understand better the areas of life and recognize what is your way of dealing with them.
For each of the seven areas, answer these questions: How do I treat this part of my life? What is the biggest difficulty I have here today? What is the greatest strength I bring to this aspect of my life? The seven areas are these:
- Family, friends, and affections
- Health and wellness
- Leisure and social life
- Work and professional life
- Personal development
- Financial life
What have you done so far?
The next few questions will help you to list, in a very practical way, what has happened in your life this year. From the beginning of January to the present day, how did your financial life unfold?
What opportunities have arisen for you professionally? Have you spent any time or invested in your personal development in any way? Did you take care of your health or did you leave it a little aside?
Did you make new friends, go to different places or did you travel?
This is the time to understand the steps – conscious or not, voluntary or not – that made you come here today. Make a description and answer some of these questions for each of the seven areas of your life.
How are you today?
Going back to the present now is the time to think about your current situation. How is your financial life? Are you in debt? How are your relationships? Have you been in touch with your friends and colleagues?
Are you out to have fun? What about your sex life? Have you been exercising? Did you go to the doctor to do a routine examination or to treat a disease? How is your food? Have you eaten the first thing you see in the refrigerator or have you taken the time to learn new recipes and use fresh food in your meals?
How is your leisure? Have you done things that please you? Have you practiced your favorite hobbies or discovered new hobbies? And your connection to the immaterial and divine part of life, as you walk? It is not necessary to write anything, just clarify where you are now.
Are you satisfied with this?
Keeping in mind your answers from the previous section, give a grade – from 0 to 10 – to your level of satisfaction and happiness with the current situation of the seven areas of your life.
Before I tell you better how this evaluation works, I need to remind you that the only and absolute parameter you should use to do this exercise is yourself.
Forget what your family says you should do or what your co-workers consider to be legal. Forget what your classmates think of situation A or B, and forget the “socially accepted” answers.
Now it’s time to assess if you’re on the path you’d like to be. “But my son/my mother/my wife/my boss would hate if he/she knew that I did not like/liked the situation X.” And? Are they going to deal with the consequences of their actions? No! To be satisfied is to feel complete as if you had made a delicious meal – without overeating or anything.
- From 0 to 3
These grades are given when we are really unhappy with the current situation in that area of our life. We are reaping harms, paying ducks or suffering practical and daily consequences that hinder the progress of our projects. An area that receives any of these grades is real stone in the shoe for you at that moment.
- From 4 to 6
These grades are given when we are relatively satisfied with the current conjuncture of that area of our life. We were able to see what improvements could be made and that some limits could be exceeded. But overall, we still see the advantages and benefits of our current circumstances. An area that receives one of these grades is not the brightest part of your life right now, but it’s under control and yields some interesting profits.
- From 7 to 10
These grades are given when we are happy and satisfied with how we are leading that area of our life.
There are still improvements to be made, but we recognize that we are doing our best and using almost all of our potential to improve the circumstances of that area. An area that deserves one of these grades should bring you a lot of pride and self-confidence and that’s probably where you focused more intensely in the last few months.
What will be your focus?
The previous exercises served to bring awareness and clarity to your present moment. From now on, you’ll get your hands on the dough and get the heaviest work of that course: Decide what your focus will be. Your free will begins here. Use it well.
Regardless of how many areas you received low grades or high grades, it is important that you deliberately choose what the two or three areas will be. This will be in focus for the next few months. Without focus, we’re not going anywhere.
It’s like that old saying: you can do everything, but you cannot do everything at the same time. To conquer some things you must necessarily give up others. Where do you want to walk now? In what part of your life do you want to see progress happen? What aspects of your life do you want to change over the next few months?
A little more theory
Put your focus wherever you want
One of the most common misconceptions that I see people make, when they talk about the exercise of the wheel of life or teach it to others, is to think that our focus should always be on the areas with the lowest grades.
This makes perfect sense, obviously. If you said that the X, Y, or Z area deserves a grade 3, 2, or even 1, you’re likely to be crazy to reverse that and start making progress in that part of your life. If that’s the case, fine.
If you want to pay more attention to the areas that received the highest grades – those that are already great and you’d like them to bloom even more – that’s fine too. If you want to focus on the areas that received the middle marks, which are neither here nor there, neither too promising nor too chaotic – all good too.
You can put your attention wherever you want or depending on the circumstances, wherever you need it. If a current condition is forcing you to take care of your health or your family, this is fine. Accept this moment and know that this situation will pass. If you have the luxury of putting your resources wherever you want, throw your hands up to the sky and grab that chance tooth and nail.
Accept inactive areas
It is extremely important to limit our focus when we are talking about our year goals. Trying to do several things at the same time, all equally important, equally exciting, equally urgent – will leave you exhausted, broken, and poor.
The more focus you have, the better. Part of this process involves accepting that yes, you will not pay attention to various other things. Caring for health, for example, is a work that requires a lot of effort.
Taking care of health, doing three courses of personal development, being promoted at work and starting a specialization in your area is too much for a human being to handle. But you want to know? It’s all right. Your life, with all luck, will be longer.
Today is not the end of the world. Leaving an initiative for later does not mean giving it up forever. It only means that, at that moment, you value more other things. As you accept and understand this movement better, also accept that you will not always want to seek results in all areas of your life.
You may not be a religious person and you do not want to make progress in that area. It’s all right. After all, as you already know what I’m going to say, life is yours.