Weekly Roundup

Hello again, campers! Ready for your campfire tales? No? Not really?

I finished listening to the Camp Red Moon short anthology, and it took me a while to recognize the voice in the second story. Kevin T. Collins, who’s performed the audiobooks to the Sam Capra series by Jeff Abbot. Speaking of, it’s about time for another installment in that series.

Anyway, here’s what’s on my plate this week.

Reading: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Just getting started, and I haven’t seen the movie either, but I recognize the desire to travel, isolate, and found yourself. A lot of my library seems geared towards those sentiments, even if they all haven’t been read yet. A 26-year-old, reeling from tragedy, decides to make the 1100-mile solo hike.

Listening: You Learn from the Alanis Morrissette jukebox musical Jagged Little Pill. I had this in the nineties (it’s probably still floating around my cd collection somewhere). This ensemble number is really touching, and I enjoy it a lot.

Doing: Goal setting. I’ve been using a couple of resources – Designing Your Life, Tony RobbinsSeth Godin, & Tim Ferris. Before I start making cuts to some of my projects and interests, I want to make sure I’m doing it for the right reason. So having those goals set are important.

Sharing:

How to decide what’s important

I’ve been asked many times, in many different ways, when will I find what I’m looking for? I’m asked this because I’ve jumped from job to job, picking up gigs along the way. I’ve traveled overseas and down south. I’ve acquired a couple of degrees (along with some debt), and I’m still looking at getting my Ph.D.

I have a half-dozen or so irons in the fire, so to speak. There’s a radio program I put together; some film & video work I still do; this blog; three gigs right now, which I’ll have reduced to one for the summer; and a couple of creative projects in the pipeline.

And I know it’s too much.

In one of the Weekly Roundups, I mentioned this blog post on working Smarter, Not Harder. I’ve taken some of the advice I gleaned from the posting, including trying to flesh out my goals. These are have proven enormously elusive to me, at least over the past four years.

I’ve seen what can happen when you have a singular focus and move methodically towards the goal. I’ve experienced it, and I know it works. Only when it happened, it wasn’t how I’d imagined it, and I now select goals with a bit more reluctance.

So as I take my time to list out my goals, for the short-term and the long-term, I think it’s important to (as I often say) be mindful and honest about what it is you’re searching for – what it is you want in life.

Once that’s done, the next step will be pulling the top three to focus on, which may yet be more of a challenge.

An assessment

Now in the new year, it’s important to take an accurate look at your situation. Review things like your finances (also a good time since tax season is right around the corner), your schedule, work/life balance, etc. An honest evaluation will give you the opportunity to make changes getting you closer to your goals.

I had hoped that 2019 would have me moving forward in Success and Harmony. But I hadn’t painted a clear enough picture for myself at the beginning of the year. So this year I wanted to ensure that I had the foundation laid for progress.

What this looks like:

  • Financial Breakdown: I’ve used Mint to gather all of my financial information into one place. This includes bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investments. I’m sure that there are other options, but I’ve had Mint for a while now, though in the last half of 2019 I let some of the information slide.
  • Work/Life Balance: This has been a bit tricky, as I’ve been working a lot during the past month. After three months with very few jobs, suddenly I was seeing a full calendar. Now, in January, I must admit that I’m pretty tired trying to keep up with the gigs and the holiday expectations. I wrote about hustling as an actor, and I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing over the past month. Hustling. I’m prepared to pull back, and starting in March I should have just one contract to focus on for the summer. That will free up the rest of my time for living.
  • Relationships: This could be lumped into Work/Life, but there are some relationships that should be cultivated that I’m not currently nurturing, and some relationships that should be looked at to see if they are still providing a healthy framework. All in all, I don’t spend too much time with toxic friendships. However, at this point I do want to review every one of my relationships to make sure that I’m being present and attentive (not toxic myself), and that they are doing the same.
  • Health: Another of my problematic areas. Having been diagnosed with RA nearly a decade ago now, I no longer take medication for it. I’ve found that the key to my health is sleeping adequately, physical activity, and eating properly. I don’t always commit to this lifestyle, but it helps when I do.
  • Goals: Finally, what are my goals? Yes, I have my focus words for 2020. But was are my goals, both short-term and long-term? There are a couple of ways to think about these. I think right now, it’s important to ask, “Are these SMART?” (Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-based.) If not, then reevaluate.

The Resolution Trap

Here it is, just a couple of days before New Year’s. You’re wondering what will 2020 hold, and what kind of goals you’ll set for yourself.

Everyone knows the beginning of their favorite new year’s sentence: “My new year’s resolution is…”

And of course, the inevitable failure that follows is also all-too-familiar. Roughly nine out of ten don’t make it. But why is it so hard to keep a resolution? To be honest, there are a number of reasons.

First, it’s likely not specific enough. In Business Insider, it’s suggested to make a concrete goal as your resolution. “”It’s easier to drop out or walk away when you set goals or resolutions that are vague. When it’s really detailed and specific, it’s harder to walk away from it.”

Second, you’ll probably come out of the gate at a sprint. But it’s a marathon, and you have all year.

Third, if you’re like me, you want all the changes to occur. When what you should be focusing on is one specific change, which you work on and implement into daily practice. That’s something you can build from. Change begets change.

Fourth, maybe they’re really big goals. So set smaller milestones. Say, cut the goal into quarters, or into twelfths. Then by the end of the first period, you should have that first cut completed. (Lose 25 pounds, for instance. Or roughly seven pounds by the end of March. And anyone can lose seven pounds, can’t they?)

And lastly, there is some psychological rationale behind why it’s so hard. We might make resolutions that are “significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with [our] internal view of [ourselves]”.

This is where I usually advocate mindfulness and honesty. Be prepared for the new year, and ring in 2020. But please go easy on yourself too. Don’t beat yourself up. Know what you want in the coming year, and take steps to achieve it. And even if you fail, you’ll still be closer to your goal than when you started.

Thoughts on goal-setting

What do you do when you’ve lost sight of the peak? You reorient. That means asking questions about what is in your life. Everything. Yes, it helps if the goal is in place so that you can compare where you are to where you want to be.

But what if you don’t really have one? Or, it’s a more simplistic, immediate goal? Let’s say you can’t quite make yourself set a five- or ten-year plan.

So start small.

You want to get out of debt? Before you make that purchase, ask yourself, “Will this bring me closer to that goal?”

Unless it’s a business purchase to increase revenue or start a new venture, or some financial investment to increase returns, it’s a hard no. We know this. That’s why this goal in particular can be so difficult. You’d never buy anything!

(Obviously this won’t apply to monthly bills, or things like groceries. But make sure you have a budget and stick to it.)

One other issue that arises is when two goals seem to contradict each other. For instance, debt reduction vs. buying a new house. But if you remain focused on the steps, you can reduce your revolving debt – which will lead to a better rate on your mortgage.

And that’s all it is. A goal is a road-map. Stick to the map, achieve the goal. Then set a new one.

Stop throwing grenades

I know in the past I have talked about energy in life, that can be used as a grenade or as a rocket. If the two were to have the same amount of potential force, the grenade’s footprint would be a spherical area, relatively small.

The rocket, on the other hand, would have a singular trajectory, propelled a much greater distance.

How can we direct our energy towards that one singular point?

Goals. Without goals, all we’re doing is lobbing grenades. A grenade makes a quick, forceful impact, but you’re limited in scope.

The rocket gets you places.