Deciding the Next Right Thing
I wrote earlier this year on choosing a theme for 2013, now it is time to consider what you wish to accomplish in 2013. How do you decide what the next right thing is for you? The most important relationship we can ever have in our lives is with ourselves. It is that relationship that we have the most control over and often value the least. In order to act in our lives, we must first listen to ourselves. Listening involves paying attention to what feeds our passion, our energy and our joie de vivre. Here are some questions to help you choose your next right thing.
Start with your Big Dream
Close your eyes and imagine your big dream. What is your big dream? What brings you closer to your passion?
Break it Down
If you were to do one thing today, this week or this month that was a step towards your dream, what would it be?
What draws you in? What builds your energy? What do you value?
Who does what you would like to do? Read their blog or e-mail and ask them how they got started. Learn from the experience and encouragement of others. Consider finding a mentor or a coach.
If you are on a path of discovery, pick a journal or a file to keep track of what you are learning. This way, you can review as you go to see if the next right thing just “shows up” in front of you. What would be the evidence for you that you are on the right track?
Prioritizing and Experimenting
How do you prioritize your happiness? The next right thing should add to your happiness quota. If you are not sure experiment with what you would like to learn about to see what is the best fit or most workable option. You may want to focus on something less action-oriented or more process-oriented. For example, instead of learning karate you may have a goal to become more patient.
There is No Expiry Date to Growth
Do you know your own decision-making rhythm? We all have our own pace of learning. Stay open to the trial and error of learning and discovery, expect to wing it at times and make room for “thought space”.
Definition of Success
What is your definition of success? Keep in mind that for each of us it is different. Stick to your own definition. If you are deciding on the next right thing for you, then you need to feel good about that for you.
The process of change can be exciting and exhilarating. It can also be disorganized and overwhelming at first. Expect that. How can you support or safeguard yourself during change? How can you keep your own self-care as a priority?
“Do it This Way” Does Not Work
Strict definitions for change rarely work. The key to think about is are you learning something? Are you doing good? Are you paying attention? Can you trust the process?
Build Your Self-Trust Muscle
Life is full of decisions between good and better. How can you build your sense of self-trust? How do you keep the commitments you make to yourself?
Look for An Absolute Yes
Timing and readiness are key factors in decision-making. Whatever you are choosing, make sure it is an absolute yes. You may also have to say no to other things. Are you ready to say no to other priorities so you can say an absolute yes to what you want to do next?
Improve Your Connection to Self
When you take flight in your new opportunity, stepping forward on a new path; think of it as improving your connection to yourself. Improving communication with you is a benefit to everyone. As you become more knowledgeable you then become a resource to others. Be ready for a contingency plan, for the next right thing can ebb and flow just as flying is based on the air currents around you. Believe and step forward. Are you ready?
How do you decide what the next right thing is for you?
Who is on Your Acknowledgement Page?
Whenever I pick up a new book, the acknowledgement page always fascinates me. Authors tell me they write this last. I wonder what would happen in our lives if we wrote our acknowledgement page before we start a new task or goal. I asked my new group of students in January to consider this, in order for you to be successful at school, who is on your acknowledgement page. I asked them, “when you graduate, who are you going to thank?”
I bring this up because in my last post I talked about how picking a theme for your life this year can save you money. I believe with life themes, come goals. With goals, we bring new habits into our lives. It takes 21 days to form a new habit. It is easier to develop a new habit if you have support. Think of a habit for this month, what is your desired change? When you begin with your habit consider the following suggestions that my online instructors for the course I am taking suggested to us to help us stay on track:
- Find your rhythm-we each have an individual rhythm for learning, a time of day that works better for us to sign in, a pattern of interaction. When it comes to starting a new habit, what is your rhythm?
- Make space for learning-when you are starting something new, schedule it in. For example, my current goal is to move every day. I started with five minutes/day in early February, this week was ten minutes/day (or 70 minutes total) and next week my goal is fifteen minutes/day. This wouldn’t work if I didn’t schedule it in my calendar.
- Move with the Group-this relates more to taking a new course and keeping up with your class. However, momentum is easier if you have an accountability partner or group support. Who can you ask for help from?
- Start at the End-catching up online can be easier if you start at the end of a post. In relation to your goal, what does having that new habit look like for you?
In this post, I am suggesting you start at the end by writing down resources that support you so you can ask for help now. Here are some ideas of who could be on your acknowledgement page.
- You-Carving out time for you to reach a goal is important. It can be five minutes a day or a dedicated hour two evenings a week. What might you need to let go of to make this happen? Do you need to get better at saying no to distractions?
- Your family-Consider who in your family may support your new goal or habit. How might they help you? Do you need to ask them for what you need?
- Your friends-Think about your closest friends. They may live near by or far away. Who is the best person to help you with your habit or goal?
- An Accountability Partner-Is there someone in your life who has already met the goal you are looking at or is also on the same journey? It could be a person who also wants to lose weight, write a book or a study partner at school. Make time for this person.
- A Mentor-If you go back to the new students I mentioned above, perhaps there is a student who is further ahead in their studies who you could talk to that could help you get started on your new goal or habit.
- Localized Support-The people we see on a daily or weekly basis are an important part of our support system. Cultivate those individuals who can give you a hand in the moment. For example, with my goal of movement, I have the members of my Tai Chi class who are only an e-mail or phone call away if I get off track.
- Online Support-In writing a book or blogging, I would be lost without my online support system. I belong to a writer’s group and an art group online. If I get stuck on a creative goal, they are a keystroke away from helping me. Do some research online and find like-minded individuals to help you. Subscribe to encouraging websites, such as the popular zen habits, to support you in living a positive and simplified life.
- Keeping Track-There are always those individuals in our lives who help us keep track. They are the organized types who help us when we can’t see the forest for the trees. Make sure you know who you can go to if you are in a funk and need someone to help you plan your way out.
- Stress Relievers-Who do you call, e-mail or text in your life when you need permission to laugh, to let go or simply be. Put them on speed dial when you are starting a new habit.
- Wise Elders-We all have older and wiser people in our lives. They may be a pastor, a priest, a grandmother or grandfather, a parent, a neighbour, a teacher or a boss. Whoever they are, seek out their counsel if you get stuck.
- Ask Your Children-The children in our lives know how to have fun in the moment, can say things that are unexpected and truthful and have the optimism of youth at their disposal. Listen to them for they are our future.
An acknowledgement page in our lives is a dynamic and organic document, and the members change as our goals and our lives change. I hope this post has reminded you that you are never alone. I would like to thank all the individuals on my acknowledgement page who have taught me so many life lessons and have allowed me the gift of paying it forward everyday.
Who is on the top of your acknowledgement page?
What lesson in sticking to a new habit might you share with others?
How Choosing a Theme for 2013 Can Help You Meet Your Financial Priorities
This year I chose “Celebrate” as my theme word for 2013. There are many blog posts written about why choosing a theme can help you focus your energy and give your dreams and goals a pathway. I began to think about whether my theme would save money. Then I started thinking about my financial priorities and how the two may be connected. Financial management is often about setting priorities. We seem to easily recognize time wasters in our lives, such as getting absorbed in social media for two hours instead of spending 20 minutes on exercise and 20 minutes on menu planning (which still leaves over an hour for online connection ). When it comes to financial management, we do not like to give the same analysis. Somehow we take our financial attention as judgement. However, where we spend our money can be as dear to our hearts as where we spend our time. Here are some suggestions with reflective questions to help you save money with your theme. If you haven’t chosen a theme, don’t worry; you can still ask yourself the questions.
1. Write Down Your Five Financial Priorities
If you want your financial spending to mirror your personal priorities, take a sheet of paper and write your top five financial priorities for 2013. Do you see a theme that connects them? Are they all manageable? Can you let anything go? For example, if your child needs braces this may not be the year for a trip down South. If family health is on your priority list, then saying no to the trip this year becomes easier. You can start a trip account for 2014.
2. Connect Your Financial Priorities to Your Personal Theme for 2013
If you have chosen a theme for 2013, do your top five financial priorities connect to your theme? If not, where is the disconnect? Many times we waste money because we are not focused. We purchase things on sale and join up for new programs without thinking about whether we really need them. If you take a moment and reflect on your financial priorities and your theme for 2013 you can see clearly how and when to spend your money to bring you the most joy. For example, my theme is celebrate and my biggest celebration this year is our wedding so my financial planning and spending focus is our wedding. So, with a focus, it is easier to say no to activities and financial expenditures that don’t match your goal (most of the time!).
3. Connect to Your Home
Your home is where you spend the majority of your time with yourself and the people who matter to you. Therefore, how you decorate it, how you entertain, and your leisure activities are reflected in how you spend your money. It is important to pay attention to preferences. When I visited my friend over the holidays she had made a wonderful meal for us. What was more interesting to me was that her whole dining room was decorated in red, white and silver. After the holidays, she continued with this theme. She told me where she had found the various tablemats, table decorations and so on. Her theme allowed her to spend her money wisely on what fit her décor. What do you want or need for your home? Can you save up or watch for a sale? How will that expenditure bring you joy?
4. Connect to Your Work
We are interconnected beings. Going out to lunch or to social events with colleagues is part of being employed. However, pay attention to how much money you are spending on lunches, clothes and social events. Are there places you can pull back so you have money for what you really want? Check out Dining Divas Lunch Club for a suggestion on how to save money by sharing lunch preparation.
5. Connect to Your Leisure Time
Imagine it is your son’s 13th birthday and he and his friends want to go to the local hockey game to celebrate. Do you splurge and take everyone as a birthday celebration? Examine your financial priorities. If it fits, do it. Consider your own theme for the year. In my case, it would fit with “celebrate”. Now, if he asks for a movie party, you can easily say no and put the money into your trip fund .
6. Connect to Your Dreams
What do financial priorities have to do with dreams, everything. If your dream is to own a yoga studio, then yoga training is a reasonable expenditure. If your dream is to own your own garage, then taking a course in “Marketing Your Small Business” makes sense. What is a perfect day for you? Take a piece of paper and write out your perfect day. Think about tying your financial expenditures to the dreams of your heart.
7. Connect to Your Relationships
We often spend money on the people who matter most to us or with the people who matter most to us. Children, partners, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, best friends and grandchildren, to name a few. Do you spend money out of love or obligation? So far, we have identified our yearly theme and our financial priorities, do you know who is in your inner circle? Being a natural caretaker and giver I need to watch this. Remember to save some for yourself.
8. Connect to You
One of the best pieces of financial advice I ever received, early on in my working career, was pay yourself first. It takes time to get in the habit. Put 10% of your disposable income in a slush fund. If you do this automatically each pay then you will have money for those unexpected car breakdowns and to spend on a necessary spa day.
9. Connect to Decision Making
We only have a finite amount of energy, time and resources. If we are going to follow whatever theme we choose throughout 2013 this allows us to learn to say no so we can say a 100% yes to what we want to accomplish and reach in our year ahead. If we use my theme of ‘celebrate’ as an illustration then my focus is to have food in the house that celebrates and nourishes a healthy body (so I can look good as a bride). Therefore, it was easier to say “no” to all the 50% off chocolate after the holidays and say “yes” to the reduced gym membership sale.
What is your theme for 2013? How will it help you save money?