Goals Versus Resolutions!!!

 

Blend Images - Dave and Les Jacobs via Getty Images

At the beginning of each year, many of us set resolutions to aid in achieving the best “you” possible. For most of us we are all in completely dedicated to our resolutions……..until we do not see the results we would like to see as quickly as we would like. This leaves me pondering which is better………goals or resolutions? After surfing the web, I realized many have pondered this question and for most goals seems to be the better method. I really enjoyed an article in The BLOG, titled Set Goals, Not Resolutions, to Achieve Results by Debbi Dickinson

Set Goals, Not Resolutions, to Achieve Results

There was a time in my life when every New Year’s Eve, I would set resolutions. They were mostly focused on my health: Lose weight, exercise more or change a bad habit.

Sound familiar?

What I realized is that my resolutions were focused more around what I should NOT be doing versus who I SHOULD strive to be. I usually found that by the second or third week of January, I had reverted back to my old habits and my resolutions were forgotten or at least ignored. After many unsuccessful years of trying to stick to my resolutions, I finally just gave up making them. “Live for the day,” was my motto.

A few years ago, I was attending a workshop at my company on goal-setting. The instructor asked the question, “Is the life your living today the same you want in 10 years?” That hit me between the eyes since I have BIG plans for my life.

That was the day I came to the realization that my life in 10 years would not be any different than my life today if I didn’t start consciously making decisions that would enable me to get where I want to go.

Don’t get me wrong; I have an amazing life and am truly blessed. But, I also feel a higher calling urging me to even greater accomplishments; I frankly want to do more with my life. I also determined that unless I started setting goals and actively manage them, they will fall by the wayside like my New Year’s resolutions. For me, the reality is if I don’t keep my goals alive, my daily life will edge them out over time… they always do!

I decided that I needed to get a system in place to assist me in developing my goals and keeping them in the forefront of my mind so that I can accomplish them. So, I found a system that appealed to me and determined that for one year I would stay committed to it.

It was an amazing process to go through the first time and a task I look forward to doing each year. The ability to sit back and ask yourself, in every aspect of your life, what you want to keep the same and what you wish to do differently is so freeing. To be able to put my goals down on paper and then have a system in place to keep them as a focus in my life on a regular basis is absolutely the key to success.

What I quickly discovered by my third month was that I was making progress in accomplishing my goals. It was a good motivator to stick to the system I had in place. By the time I got to the end of my first year, I was surprised to discover that I hit about 80% of my goals and about 50% of them I had exceeded.

The second year, I decided to set my goals even higher and again found that with focus, I could accomplish a lot.

As each year comes to an end, I enjoy reviewing the goals I set for myself the year prior and have found a few repeating patterns:

1. I always achieve/exceed at least 70% of my goals, even though I set the bar on goals a bit higher each year. It is amazing how many I actually reach.

2. There is always an area of my life that will flatline, meaning that I didn’t achieve the goal I was aspiring towards. I don’t view this as a negative point; I know I will not meet 100% of my goals year after year. This has happened two years in a row for one particular area in my life. What I’m questioning now is how much effort or energy to put forth in this area next year in relation to the other areas of my life.

3. A new goal appears every year. And these are BIG goals I’m referring to. What I’m finding is that the more I step outside my comfort zone, the more new opportunities in new areas of my life appear. For the past two years, these new areas have become significant focus areas on my goal-setting for the next year.

4. I have freedom. I know with absolute certainty when I will retire and that I will live the same lifestyle I do today. I know that whatever I set my eyes on to achieve, I will. It may take more than one year, but I will achieve it.

As I mentioned before, I feel I’m being pulled to a higher calling. I believe the new goals are moving me towards that higher calling and the goals I’m flatlining on are an indication that my energy needs to be diverted elsewhere.

Goal Setting has been a wonderful experience. It keeps me focused through-out the year and am finding that a bi-product of my progress is happiness and a sense of purpose.

I am empowered!

Controlling Nightmares Part 1 of a 2 Part Blog Series

Controlling Nightmares

Controlling nightmares sounds like an impossible and ridiculous idea but it is possible!  Many people suffer from nightmares. Would you like to be in control during those nightmares?

This is a two-part blog post in which I can give you some ideas as to how to go about gaining control in your nightmares.

This post is based on years of research on “lucid dreaming.”  Once you have mastered lucid dreaming you can then control nightmares.  The concept is that when you are dreaming you are “lucid” or aware that it’s a dream you are in and not reality. Most people begin the process of mastering lucid dreaming by being able to wake themselves up from a terror filled nightmare by telling themselves in the dream “this can’t be real, this has to be a dream, I need to wake up” and then they wake themselves up.   If you have ever done this then you have the ability to develop this into lucid dreaming and controlling your nightmares.

There are some steps involved in being able to control your nightmares:

Step #1: Become more aware in your awake life.  Examine your environment when you’re awake.  Once you get more proficient at being aware of your environment during the day this mental technique will spill over into your dream time.  Mindfulness training would also assist you with this and has many other benefits but that’s a different blog post.

Step #2 Before falling asleep tell yourself you are going to attempt to recognize when you’re dreaming.

Step #3 In the dream notice your environment.  If something is strange or odd then you may be dreaming.

Step #4 Test the environment by looking around, investigate to full determine if you are dreaming.  If you’re in your home in a dream is everything where it’s supposed to be, if not then perhaps you’re dreaming.

Step #5 If you are dreaming and it turns negative or clearly become a nightmare attempt to wake yourself by telling yourself “This is a dream, Wake up! Wake up!”

Re-entry technique: Once you have woke yourself up the challenge is then to get back to sleep and not go back into the same dream that you didn’t like in the first place.   In order to avoid going back into the same bad dream, try picturing “your happy place.”   I hope you have a “happy place” if not create one!   Imagine a serene and beautiful place that is calming to you.  Don’t just see this place but attempt to create the experience in your mind.  F eel the sensations that your happy place would bring to you; try to smell the scent on the breeze and feel the sun on your skin.

I would advise keeping a dream log and jotting down a few notes about your dreams upon waking each morning so that you can track your progress and know when you’re ready to move onto the other steps.

Wikihow had some fairly good ideas for how to master lucid dreaming which is another term for this concept of controlling nightmares.

Once you have mastered this you are ready for the second and last set of steps in controlling your nightmares.   That will be in covered in Part 2 of this blog series. Stay tuned!

The Importance of Sleep

Here is some additional information on lucid dreaming if you’d like to do some further reading.

 

 

Laughter

Laughter

More and more research has proven what we already instinctively know – “laughter is the best medicine.”   A study was conducted with volunteers who watch a 10-minute, humorous video clip while connected to an EEG monitor (to measure the brain wave frequencies).  The results showed an association between laughter and  increased gamma wave activity.  This is significant because gamma waves, the fastest of all brain waves, help the brain perform at peak performance.  These brain waves essentially help different parts of the brain function together more efficiently.  So laughter helps the brain get a total-brain workout!  Indeed more research needs to be conducted, but laughter can be a powerful antidote for increased mental health because it is free, convenient, and easy to implement.

Try to create daily opportunities for laughter in your life – watch a funny comedy show or movie, watch funny YouTube videos, hit the comedy club, read the newspaper funny section, ask someone about the funniest thing that happened this week, laugh at yourself,  or take time out for fun activities with friends and family.

Cheers to more laughter!

Triggering Creativity and Productivity

Activating Your Brain to Maximize Creativity and ProductivityActivating Your Brain to Maximize Creativity and Productivity2

Lately I have been seeing a ton of posts and apps for adult coloring pages.  I like this concept of doing simple, non-costly activities to relax your mind.  I have tried the coloring applications and to me they simply aren’t the same as taking a crayon or colored pencil in your hand and coloring in a design on paper.  There is just something about the physical sensation that accompanies taking a crayon to a piece of paper, it’s not quite the same as a finger or stylist to a screen but it each their own. I bring this up because it reminded me of a good book a read many years back called The Break-Out Principle by Herbert Benson, M.D. and William Proctor.  You can find the book here.  This book outline techniques for triggering creativity and productivity.

This book is supported by thirty years of research at Harvard Medical School conducted by Benson.  The book talks about “good” and “bad” stress and how after a certain point in time when you’re struggling to solve a problem and you feel mentally stuck you need to STOP for a bit, persisting can only make things worse for your brain! I can boil down the book’s advice to this: If you take your mind off of the problem you’re stuck on and do something else for 10 to 15 minutes in order to relax your mind, this actually re-engages your creativity.  Then a “Shazam!” moment can occur for you and you’ll have the solution before you know it.

It’s like the age-old concept of when you can’t remember the name of someone or something and you stop thinking about it and get busy on something else, suddenly the answer pops in your head. There’s actual research to support this phenomenon! This brain technique or phenomenon is called The Yerkes-Dodson Law first discovered in 1908 by Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson.  The Break-Out Principle states that when you’re really frustrated with a problem, doing something else besides persisting to work on the problems can mentally unstick your brain.  So, in essence “let it go” for a little bit. …Did you just think of that stupid song from the movie “Frozen”? I know I just did.  Sorry.    Anyway, this book suggests letting the problem go for a bit and doing something active, something that doesn’t require a lot of concentration and something repetitive.  The authors cite several examples of good activities to engage in to help make this principle work for you, these include: praying, meditating, showering, walking/exercising, knitting, listening to your favorite song, playing catch with your dog or coloring a picture.  Of course if this doesn’t immediately work and you don’t get your Eureka! Moment, you may have to return to the problem and re-engage your mind in problem solving.  But sometimes simply taking a break and then getting back to work on it, whatever IT may be, will help the solution come to you.

So why not give it a try next time you feel mentally stuck on a problem.

Here’s a mandala you can color!

Madala

Mandala

What Is Love?

What Is Love

Love… Do any of us really know what it is?

A dad was telling me that when his baby girl comes home to tell him about a boy who told her that he loves her, he is going to sit down and read 1 Corinthians 13 to her and then ask, “Does he love you like that?”

Robert Sternberg says love is based on three different elements and 7 different stages. Stenberg says the three elements are intimacy, passion, and commitment. He says that if a relationship has at least two of these elements, it will survive; however, if it only has one of these elements, it will not.

He outlines 7 different stages:

  1. Liking – warmth, closeness (intimacy but no passion or commitment)
  2. Infatuation – love at first sight (passion but no intimacy or commitment)
  3. Empty Love – unhappy marriage/relationship (commitment but no intimacy or passion)
  4. Romantic Love – close emotionally and physically but no future plans (intimacy and passion, no commitment)
  5. Companionate Love – long-term marriage/relationship, close emotionally but not physically (intimacy and commitment, no passion)
  6. Fatuous Love – dating, courtship and marriage fueled by zeal but no attachment or closeness (passion and commitment, no intimacy)
  7. Consummate Love – ideal relationship, sexually, romantically, and emotionally in sync; harder to maintain than achieve (passion, intimacy, and commitment)

Do you agree? If you used this rating scale, how would your relationship rate up?

Other People’s Expectations

Other People's Expectations

Are you letting other people’s expectations control you?  Take some time and reflect on your life.  What is the source behind the motivation of your next big purchase?  What inspired your new goal?  Are you making a decision today because it is to satisfy some internal longing or to do what others expect of you?

There is a story told about a fisherman who started a fish market; his store sign read, FRESH FISH SOLD HERE DAILY.  The neighbor thought that the sign was too wordy and said to him, “We know you are going to sell fresh fish.  You aren’t going to sell stale fish, are you?  Why not remove the word FRESH?”

The next day, the sign read, FISH SOLD HERE DAILY.  The fisherman’s friend passed by and said, “Of course you are selling fish, and we know where you are selling them, so take away the words SOLD and HERE.

The next day, the sign read FISH DAILY.  The fisherman’s brother came home from college and said, “The sign is confusing.  Everybody knows you are selling fish every day.  Remove the word DAILY.”

The next day the sign read FISH.  A passerby read the sign and he thought, “Fish?  Fish what?  Fish where?”

When you are living up to other people’s expectations, you will find yourself just like the fisherman, spinning in circles and trying to please everyone.  This road only leads to frustration, disappointment, and exhaustion.  Stop hurting and betraying yourself!

I truly believe that when we constantly try to meet other people’s expectations, we lack identity and feel inferior to others.  We should not be willing to betray our self in order to obtain others’ approval and acceptance.  There is nothing wrong with asking people their opinions, but at the end of the day that is all it is — their opinion!

Everyone is a unique person who God has placed on this earth to accomplish a great purpose. We are not meant to do what others expect of us but what God expects and has purposed for our life.

Take time to get to know yourself and what God’s purpose is for you.  When making that next decision, ask yourself whose voice is it that is motivating you —  mom, dad, spouse, friend, family, boss — or is it the voice of God?

Be confident and know who you are in God because a sure fire way to live a regretful life is to spend your life meeting other people’s expectations.