“Gosh, this year flew by fast” – that’s a phrase you hear often as we get into the last few weeks of the year. For kids, a year seems to take forever but as we grow older the perception of time speeding up seems almost real.
Instead of waiting for the end of the year to review your trajectory toward the life you want, consider a mid-year check in. Give yourself time to make adjustments if needed or take a moment for a nice pat on the back if you find you are on the path you desire for yourself.
What thoughts come to your mind as you reflect on the year so far? I believe your answer to this question can be a telling reflection about how satisfied you are with your life.
My hope is that you’re beaming and feel excited about the many experiences you’ve had so far. Be it evenings of laughter with friends, a school performance of your child, a vacation with the family, a new skill learned, moments of reflection and revelations, and the feeling that you are living, loving, and maybe even making a difference in someone’s life.
If you shrug at this list wondering on what planet I live please keep reading. If it’s not excitement, what thoughts come to your mind? “I’m getting old”, “same old, same old” or some other expression of indifference?
That’s a sign that you’re going through life without a clear direction. You wake up every morning and go through the same routine every day, and nothing ever changes.
The trick to coming alive is for you to take control of your life rather than allowing the rest of the world to control it for you.
So, unless you plan the type of experiences you want, everyone else will fill in every waking minute of your day with their needs. I’m not proposing you ignore everyone else. What I am proposing is that you become clear about what you want, why you want it, and create a plan to do it. Okay let’s break this down….
STEP 1: Ask yourself 'what feelings do I want to experience more often?'
Are you looking to feel more JOY? Love? A sense of achievement or maybe adventure? How about the feelings of romance, serenity, hope, awe, or amusement? Or is it a feeling of being proud of who you are?
Select the top 2-3 emotions that you want to nurture to experience more of in your life.
STEP 2: Brainstorm how you can create those feelings in your life
Take a large notepad and pen or your tablet, move to a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted (looking outside or being outside in nature can be especially inspiring) and let the pen fly. All ideas are welcomed. No filter. No judgment.
Start by looking into your past. When did you experience these emotions before in your childhood, when you were single, before kids? But maybe it’s a new experience you want to have. Allow your ideas to flow without restricting them.
Remember that often the magic is found in the small things. Think of ways you can produce that emotion in, let's say, less than a minute, or in 10 minutes, or an hour, or a day. Then consider how to create that feeling when you’re by yourself, with friends, with family, with strangers…yes, strangers. Let me offer a few examples:
Things that may bring you JOY:
Call a friend every week and tell him/her that you love them and why they are so special to you…that will put a smile on their and your face.
Go to a dance class or have your own dance party in your living room.
Go to the comedy club.
Play board games with your family.
Garden, play an instrument, or pursue another passion of yours.
Sign up for a class (painting, photography, cooking...).
Things that may give you a sense of adventure:
Get in the car on a sunny Sunday afternoon and drive without knowing where you are going.
Sign up for a subscription box – each month you get a box full of surprises.
Sit in a completely different spot in church and commit to having a conversation with one of the people sitting around me.
Book a trip without booking your hotels to see where you end up.
Go go-cart driving or climb a mountain.
Okay, one more. This is fun!
Things that may make you feel proud of yourself:
Go to a senior citizen home and talk to whoever is looking for company.
Take 10 $10 bills out of the bank and commit to supporting 10 different people in need or 10 different causes before the month is over.
Book that long weekend get-away that you’ve been pushing off for so long.
Engage in an encouraging conversation with someone who is different from you…the girl at the bus station with 3 nose rings or the ‘odd mom’ of your daughter’s classmate. You never know what you’ll learn.
You get the gist. Living life doesn’t require hours and days out of your busy routine.
Living life is about creating
small moments of new experiences every day.
STEP 3: Narrow down & Plan
Review your brainstorming session. You may now find that some experiences seem more enticing to you than others. But, don’t shy away from stepping out of your comfort zone. Like Elizabeth Gilbert said, “Living within your comfort zone is a sure way to a flatline life”.
I find there are two effective ways to plan these ideas into your week. One is to schedule a set time into your calendar. For example, calling one of your friends to tell them you love them is something you may do, let’s say every Tuesday evening.
But some things you can’t plan out for the year.That can be a good thing. Routines are beneficial but spontaneity is important too. It helps keep things from becoming boring again.
I balance the routine with the preparedness by having an hour window reserved on the 1st Sunday of every month to plan. You can take your list of options and decide what you’ll do in the next 30 days and start planning them.
How will you remember to plan your life? Put time on your calendar right now to never forget moving forward.
I have a calendar in the kitchen where I write down every one of those lived experiences. Then, when I get to the end of the year, I take that calendar and flip through it. WOW! You’ll be amazed how much you can do in a year. You’ll remember what made you laugh, what made you feel good, and most importantly you will feel like you've lived life.
Do you want help planning your life? Let your executive health coach be your guide, helping you create a vision of you at your healthiest, most JOYful self and leading you along your path every step of the way.
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