The New Year begins allowing us to re-set.
Re-set? Yes, on January 1st we have 356 unknown days ahead of us. Sure, some are predetermined such as holidays, birthdays, vacations, and such, but the actual content of those days is not yet set in stone.
When we were kids the passing of time seemed so slow! Then as we grew older, time seems to be slipping by too quickly!! There never seems to be enough of it to finish projects, to relax, or to spend time with others.
Or, is it we are really allowing time to slip through our fingers? The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to re-set our “clocks” and start respecting the passage of time and work on what is really important.
I have been a sketch journal keeper all my life. I have collected quite a few! Inside you will find thoughts jotted down, sketches of cool things or ideas I have, notes taken of places I have seen…and lists. The most famous one was “By the time I am twenty I will have accomplished the following…”
I revisited that list five years later and scratched out age 20 and put in 35. At the time I was depressed over the fact I could only scratch off one item on that list. I felt I had failed to do what I had hoped I would. When age 35 rolled around, I tried to look at that list in a new way. A lot happened to me between age 20 and 30 and 35: Unexpected things and other important tasks that could not be pushed aside. So what was I going to do? I scratched out the age again and upped it-being ever hopeful. The difference this time was that I laughed at myself. Those goals were pretty high! And I obviously did not allow enough time to do them what with jobs, little children, volunteer work, etc in the mix.
This brings me to The Positivity Project!
I want to help you accomplish your goals. I want to help you stay positive and focused to get there and not feel disappointed. Let’s do this together!
Step One: Ask Yourself, What do I Want?
What are your lofty goals?
Remember that annoying job interview question? “Where do you see yourself in five years?” In the interview you usually give them the answer you think they want to hear. Don’t do that for this exercise: I want you to answer truthfully. But, Wait! Yes, there are rules to setting your lofty goals.
Under Positivity Project Rule 1.1: You can’t say in five years I want to be rich and famous. Why? Because it is a hollow goal. It lacks feelings and substance. It lacks a plan. It lacks positive vibes. If you set yourself up for goals like those, you are just inviting disappointment, trouble, and negativity in your door. Think of those who are so desperate to be noticed or get rich quick, they allow themselves to forget their ethics and values to commit bad behavior, or to fall prey to those who will take advantage of them. No, no, and no. Be patient. Be true to yourself.
Instead of the above, set a lofty goal that has purpose and personal meaning to you.
Say something like this, “I hope to be making enough money to support myself and my loved ones with left over to buy some cool stuff.” Or… “I hope to have completed a book/painting/song that I can get paid for and people will enjoy.”…Or… “I hope to have enough free time to do X-Y-Z that I have always wanted to do.” These are realistic and attainable lofty goals. And they can be broken down into smaller steps.
Here are mine: “I want to complete as many stories and illustrations that I can before I can’t, and share them with at least one person that will be inspired, or entertained by them.”… “I want to continue to be helpful to my family and friends without sacrificing my health or my dreams.”
On the surface those are HUGE personal goals, yet, not far fetched. The good part is they can be broken down into many small steps. Small tasks that can give me feelings of positive growth. I hope you can see those in your lofty goals. If not, be more specific in what you want to try for.
Step One complete. Now we begin the real journey! Moving onto Step Two.
Step Two: Let’s Get Real.
Once you have your unique lofty goal or goals, write then down on the first page of a journal, or in your electronic device of choice, or on that big dry erase board on your wall. That is the title of your personal adventure story! Now lets start plotting a path.
The first thing you need to do is get into a positive frame of mind and practice it. You need to be your own cheering section.
For the next few weeks in the month you are in now, write down every positive step you make toward your goal. Put every big or little step down. Once a day would be great. Try to at least sum up each week. My recent entries looked liked this; “Today I watched a YouTube video on how to upload a pdf onto my website.” …“Over the past few days I have been trying to learn how to upload a pdf to my website.” …The next entry is “I actually uploaded a pdf to my website!” …Or yours might be… “I thought about buying something, but I didn’t. I instead put that money into my travel fund.” Or “while waiting for my son to come out of school I did research on my phone for….” Or …“Today I stopped and watched a flock of birds fly over head and noted their movement and the color of the sky. It made me think about a line of a poem.”
As the weeks go by, continue to add every little positive thought or action you did. Even if you didn’t complete it, put it down as forward motion. At the end of the month look at your list and I bet you will be surprised at how much you accomplished.
Next you will make a summary of that past month from your list.
If your list doesn’t seem that long, DO NOT beat yourself up. Instead think about the reason why you couldn’t get to what you hoped to. Sh*t happens. There is nothing we can do about it. Maybe you got sick, or your kid/parent/friend got sick and you had to put off your own plans to help him/her/self. It happens. Don’t be mad: consider it a positive. You were showing compassion. Put that down in your list. Maybe your washer broke, or they wanted you to work more hours at your job. Nothing you can do about that. Don’t mope about it. Move on. Look forward.
BUT, if you see that you got distracted by something that really had no purpose or meaning, you can learn from that, too. Why did you wander off your path? Or is there a hidden step you are not aware of? Now would be a good time to think that through and make a change or get some help. My biggest time sapper is when I feel stressed I often just zone out in front of the TV or my tablet. And we know how that goes. One show can roll into the next, or that movie got good, and before you know it, hours have gone by. Same thing can happen when you sign into social media. So what can I do? I need to admit the stress and replace that activity with something I enjoy and that has purpose toward my goals. Something that will only take up a short amount of time. Something that requires me to use my hands.
You heard me right. New studies are showing that when we focus on a task that makes us use our hands, we relax, decrease stress, and our brains wake up. Hey, maybe that explains why I always get good ideas in the shower or when I am driving or when I am doing the dishes. With these kind of tasks we zone out allowing ideas to flow in. Recently I read how many past great writers and artists would fit a walk into their day. They would quietly exercise, observe, relax. With all that in mind, I am going to my quiet workroom and paint, or mess around with building something or take a walk instead of falling onto that sofa! Okay, I will TRY to do that.
Back to your monthly summary.
Take a good look at it. Congratulate yourself for what you did. DO NOT think about what you didn’t do. That is Positivity Project Rule 2.1 – avoid negative and self- defeatist behavior.
Once you are done admiring the courage and creativity to get done what you got done, consider what you can do in the next month. It may be just to re-do some of the tasks you listed in order to perfect them, or not forget how to, or you can make an effort to build on them. When I say build, I am saying baby steps. Avoid looking way ahead and thinking I will never learn/accomplish that so why bother trying. Replace that negative thought with how will you take your next small step toward your goal.
Be patient. “Get rich quick” schemes never work out. When you deliberately work hard to accomplish a goal, you are giving yourself a huge reward. It will also gain you respect from those around you.
Keep going with your “Positivity Journal’ each month. When you are done with the summary of the third month, make a bigger summary taking into account everything over the past three months. How did you do? I would guess after the first and second month, you are moving toward a more positive way of thinking about your future. That is great!
For me, the three month summary was an eye-opener. I realized I was spending more and more time on research for my article writing and keeping up with social media, than I was on new fiction writing. Wow, that explains a lot to me. With that new information, I can relook at how I spend my time and on which projects. Wait, I think I just made another goal for myself! See…life is fluid and we need to be ready for that.
See you next time for Part Two of the Positivity Project.
Positivity Project Rule 1.1: Avoid hollow goal making.
Positivity Project Rule 2.1 : Avoid negative thinking.
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