Most of us feel anger, pain and joy; it’s how we navigate our emotions that makes a difference.
How many emotions can we handle at one time? One moment? One day? One week? The answer of course is many. A number of years ago I decided to begin the day by taking inventory of the many things in my life I am grateful for. Well you know how these intentions work, sometimes I stick with that goal and other times I allow other things to get in the way. I want to discuss why it is so important to stick with goals and how we can control our emotional state of being.
Why Goals Matter
“Always remember your focus determines your reality.”
Getting all caught up in minutia is normal and in some ways a defense mechanism. Our brain tells us that the big things in our lives (i.e., health, finances, relationships) are too big to handle, so we allow ourselves to get bogged down in the little stuff. This week I spent way too much time trying to get a refund from an airline. The Asian flight that was cancelled was a little over $100 and the airline was making it difficult, if not impossible, to get a refund. I did a little research and learned that the airline is filing bankruptcy. Chances are I will never see that money again. I thought about it when I woke-up in the morning and before I went to sleep at night. Why? I told myself that it was the injustice of it all. If I look at all the things that are important in my life, I have to wonder if it’s worth my time and energy. Letting go is a huge goal for me.
How to Stick to Your Goals
- It’s always easier if a task (goal) is routine — same time everyday or every other day
- Don’t make it impossible to achieve
- You have to truly want to achieve that goal
- Write them down
- Review your goals often
- Try to imagine the outcome: If you can see it, you can have it
- Set reminders (I use Alexa)
- Have someone close to you remind you
- Be prepared to walk away from a goal at anytime
What Really Matters
This is tough because we often forget what really matters. Remind yourself constantly. I remind myself that what matters to me are: relationships, my health (mental, physical, spiritual), Paco (my dog), my home, and a sense of purpose. The latter being what I struggle with most.
When I look back at times in my life when I had doubts or emotional pain, what seemed most difficult to navigate were thoughts that my life might not matter. Of course on an intellectual level I know that it matters to those who love and care for me. I guess what I mean is “matter” in the larger scheme of things. Is there are reason for me to be alive? What am I here to accomplish? At the end of my life, if I get the chance to look back, will I be satisfied with what I accomplished?
What’s Next? General End-of-the Year Thoughts
You can just create goals and stop there. Once you achieve your goals, you need to come up with new ones. Evaluate your goals often: are they achievable, how am I progressing, do I need to revise my goals? Difficult questions because it means facing reality and reality isn’t always pretty.
Pushing down medical issues is dangerous and sometimes deadly. When you have symptoms you do not recognize or health related signs that something isn’t right, you cannot ignore them. It’s always better to find out what it is and then deal with it.
I have a lot of prostate cancer in my family. I’m at the age where if it’s going to be a problem in my future, therefore, I have to monitor it now. When men ignore the signs (i.e., problems urinating, blood, pain in the groin area), they may be setting themselves up for more health related difficulties in the future. It doesn’t make sense that we ignore these issues, but we often do.
I believe it’s possible to set so many goals that you become bogged down with things you are trying to achieve. I’m learning to allow the future to present itself organically. Recent events (i.e., the pandemic) have shown me that you have to be flexible and adapt to change. On the other hand, some things require planning (i.e., travel). It’s all about balance and knowing how far you can push yourself. The key for me is a certain amount of discomfort. If I become too comfortable, I begin to accept mediocrity. I become lazy and complacent. I lose the joy I long for and desire. We cannot allow that to happen for obvious reasons.
I have made myself a list (love lists) of things that I cannot allow to happen. Knowing these things to be true for me, helps me to stay on the “correct” path:
- I cannot give up on my dreams
- I cannot turn a blind eye to the less fortunate
- I cannot give up on learning Portuguese
- I cannot stop writing
- I cannot skip the gym
- I cannot rest on my laurels
- I cannot allow what others think of me to hold me back
- I cannot walk away from loving relationships
- I cannot use alcohol or any other substance as a crutch
- I cannot allow my love of food to lead to an unhealthy weight
- I can never lose my integrity and self-esteem
- I cannot allow my ego to control me
A list of the “must haves” in your life is good as well. This being human thing is not an easy challenge. We all know that if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worthwhile or as satisfying.
I was watching a documentary film this morning. It’s about a doctor who does surgeries on women to save their unborn babies. He was inspiring and worthy of paraphrase (The Surgeon’s Cut, first episode):
“It’s not the length of your life that matters, it’s how fulfilling your life is while you’re alive.”
I know others have said this, but sometimes someone says something that stays with you. This is a time of uncertainty; in fact, life is always uncertain, it’s best to live your best life today and not wait until tomorrow. Despite how awful this year has been, I am optimistic. I learned many things about myself in 2020 and I am feeling grateful for so many things. We’re all experts when it comes to fulfillment, if it works for you, it may work for someone else. Share your successes, ideas, and your failures with others. It’s a great way to affirm your truth and live with intention.