2020 has been a long and arduous year for all of us. I am a bit weary from everything we have been through even though I have been fortunate enough to have been able to keep working and stay well. My heart goes out to all of those who have struggled or lost loved ones this year. It really makes you take stock of what is important. Some people hare taking action and readdressing the areas of their lives that need a change.
To try and give myself a bit support for the year ahead, I am going to be starting some projects that will help me to boost those areas that need a bit more attention.
Deciding Where to Focus Your Efforts When You are Stuck
If you are stuck trying to work out what you should do to make life more fulfilling, I have found that focussing on the key factors that need most attention to be most effective. There is a notion that if you improve one area, then other areas will improve as well. Trying to sort out everything at once is overwhelming and you quickly give up because the task seems insurmountable. What you have to do is to seek incremental gains in a few focussed areas. Any step in the right direction, however small, is a good step.
Reading a variety of self help books, there are 10 common areas to look at:
- Physical Health
- Love and Relationships
- Career and Meaningful Work
- Financial Security and Income
- Friends, Social and Community
- Mental Health, Personal Development, Learning, Skills and Knowledge
- Fun and Adventure
- Your environment
Rate each of the areas on a scale of 1 to 10 in regard to how happy you are with that aspect of your life. Don’t compare yourself with others, just honestly consider how happy you are. Then look at the three areas that have scored lowest. By creating a goal for each of these areas, you will have three topics you can use for projects to focus on for the year ahead. Your aim is to improve your score by at least one point. Remember, any gain is beneficial, however small. Once you have taken the first step, it is easier to take another.
Setting SMART Goals
To know how you are doing, you should set yourself some SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that means:
- S – Specific – State exactly what it is you want to achieve
- M – Measurable – How will you know you have improved? and by how much? What is acceptable?
- A – Achievable – Don’t set huge steps to accomplish otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure. The first goal should be something you know you can do. If you want to run 5K, then make your first goal to put on your running shoes every morning for a week and step outside the back door. You will find that once you have put your trainers on, you feel that you may as well go out. Then you can define your next goal.
- R – Relevant – Make sure the goal you set is relevant to the task at hand.
- T – Time Bound – Set a time limit when you have to complete your goal by. Without this, you will keep procrastinating and never get it done. The timescale you set should be realistic. You have to balance giving yourself enough time to get things done without stressing over it, but also give yourself a bit of a challenge to motivate yourself.
How are you feeling? If you have any particular ailments, you should seek medical help. If you are seeking to improve your general health and fitness, then there are plenty of things you can do. Once again, any improvement is better than none. Getting up off the sofa and going for a ten minute walk is better than doing nothing. You need to develop habits that will stand you in good stead for the long term. If you want to have quality of life in your later years, do something about it now. There is a saying to “Dig your well before you need it.” All too often we put things off because they are not an imminent problem, just like pension plans. By the time the problem begins to appear, it is much more challenging to resolve things that could have been avoided by a little ongoing maintenance.
Factors that will help you in the long run are:
- Strength – Exercises using your own bodyweight are exceedingly powerful
- Aerobic exercise
For an overview on approaches to improving your general health and immunity, read my blog post on Boosting your wellbeing and immunity.
Love and Relationships
One way to improve on relationships with others is to share an experience together. Find an outdoor activity that you both will like and ideally find exciting. The shared experience will bring you closer together and strengthen your relationship. Approach it with an open mind though, and be supportive of the other person.
Relationships also relates to animals and plants as well as people. Basically, caring for others.
Career and Meaningful Work
Are you truly happy with your job? Do you still have a job after the really crap year that 2020 was? Doing meaningful work is one of the key routes to happiness. You may not be able to work out what your life’s purpose is, but you should be able to find a job that has some meaning. To get home at the end of the day knowing you have made a difference in the world is a truly wonderful feeling. That sense of accomplishment and achievement.
It can be challenging finding a well paid outdoor job, but consider the tradeoffs and benefits you may get for your health and wellbeing from working outdoors in the natural environment.
Keep on Taking Small Steps
You get the general gist by now. Just look around you and notice what you can improve. Then take small steps, even really small steps to begin to improve things bit by bit. Over time things will get better in more ways than you can imagine.
I’ll leave you with the approach that I use daily – Leave everyone you meet better than you found them. What can you do for others that will improve their day? Even if it’s to put a smile on the face of a stranger.