Wrapping Up 2015

2015 WrapBefore we say a final farewell to 2015, I want to make a full record of how the year progressed, including what went well, what didn’t go so well or didn’t even happen and also the unexpected things that came our way!

As with most goals (plans) which cover an extended period of time, circumstances and events can and will conspire to knock you off course. My goals have been no exception to this, but, having said that, I’m happy with the outcome of the year and am already looking forward to doing it all again and better in 2016!

Goals That Went Well

Reading – I originally set out to read 18 books over the course of the year, but didn’t manage to fully achieve that number. However, I was able to read or listen to 10 books over the course of the year, which is worthy of a mention.

Attend A Personal Development Seminar – happily achieved this goal in April, when I attended a weekend coaching training session.

Generate an extra £10,000 of income – this goal was revised well before the end of the year to a much lower goal. Overall, I managed to generate approximately £2,500 of additional or unexpected income, which came in quite handy!

Increase our net worth by 15% – we didn’t get to the 15% unfortunately, but maybe this was somewhat ambitious.  In the end this has come in at around a 9% increase.  I’ll be looking to improve on this in 2016.

Practice my morning meditation routine – this has been a big success in 2015 and has also been a practice which has helped to keep me grounded through the ups and downs life has thrown my way (there have been a few!). I now consider meditation a regular and important part of my lifestyle and would recommend it to anyone!

Set up and launch my Achieve Your Best Life YouTube channel – I met this goal with hours to spare when on New Year’s Eve I posted my YouTube video . This was definitely one of the scariest things to have done (I’m ever-so camera shy!). But, now it’s done, I’m pleased to have achieved this milestone. I’m also pleased to have had some lovely feedback, thank you :) .

Post Content to My Website – I haven’t quite achieved the number of blog posts in 2015 that I would have liked, but I’m not going to discount the fact that I have actually posted 48 blogs, compared to 42 that I posted 2014!

Continue and complete our 12 UK Cities in 12 Months Bucket List Challenge – this goal has been the highlight of the year. We completed the challenge in December with our 12th city visit to Liverpool. The twelve cities we visited were: Bristol, Gloucester, Salisbury, Wells, Canterbury, London, Lincoln, St David’s, Worcester, Edinburgh, London (again!) and Liverpool!

Take a 2-week summer holiday (location TBD, but somewhere hot!) – this goal didn’t work out quite as planned as I had hoped that we would travel abroad when I envisaged ‘somewhere hot’. As it turned out, we took a week-long touring trip to the Lake District (now very sadly flooded) followed by Dumfries and Edinburgh in Scotland. Luckily the weather was lovely and we enjoyed ‘somewhere hot’!

Maintain and improve regular contact with family and friends – I’ve been very lucky to have enjoyed the company of lots of my family and friends this year. I’ve also managed (for the first time), to send birthday cards at the right time!

Contribute to local causes by sponsoring local activities and events – I’ve sponsored a number of charitable activities in 2015 and am pleased with how this goal worked out.

Goals That Didn’t Go So Well

Complete A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Course – I decided quite early on that this goal wasn’t resonating with me despite having been very keen to take the course at the beginning of the year. I’m still very interested in this area, but I’m now looking at something broader (more news about that in a later blog!).

Weigh 9 stone 4 pounds (130lbs) and maintain – this one has been a rollercoaster. The year started well with enthusiasm and weight coming off regularly, but by March weight-loss had stalled and from there I never really seemed to recover my motivation. Things got worse as the year progressed as we were busy with unexpected projects and my time was truly stretched in other areas.  I’ve ended the year somewhere very near to where I started!

Participate in a fitness related charity event – this goal was shelved for health reasons and I’ll revisit it in due course.

Grow my website subscriber list – I don’t think I was prepared for the amount of research and subsequent work that was required for this goal. This is an area I will need to revisit and chunk down for future progressing.

Write my second eBook – no visit from the ‘muse’ in 2015. More thought and planning required for this.

Take a trip to New York to celebrate our 27th Wedding – change of focus meant this one was shelved for 2015.

Unexpected Successes!

Review my Bucket List regularly for opportunities to take action – whilst I didn’t regularly check out my Bucket List, we moved house in 2015, which was on the List. This wasn’t really planned, but seemed to happen at just the right time!

In September I decided to embark on a 10-week Coaching and Mentoring course, which I successfully passed with a grade of ‘Excellent’!

So WOW!  What a year, is it any wonder that I was struggling so much with setting goals for 2016?!  

So now it’s onwards into 2016…February kicks off in just a few hours!  My next blog will have details of my goals for 2016 and once again I’m hoping you will share the journey with me and also share your goals for 2016!

The Trouble With Success

Success_WOLI’ve been dilly-dally-ing recently. Procrastinating…again.

It’s already way past the middle of January and time is a-creeping-on. Looking back to this time last year, I’d already made my plans and committed to my goals, but somehow, this year, things are taking much longer…<sigh>

It’s not all been delayed though.  I’ve completed my Wheel of Life, which, as usual, is very wonky! I wouldn’t fancy being on a bike with a front wheel that looks like that!

But, importantly, it’s shown me that there are areas of my life that need and even deserve a little bit more TLC in 2016. Some of the low scores (Health and Fitness scored a measly 4!), have come about as a result of unexpected challenges or because of non-complementary goals in 2015. But that’s okay because it’s another learning point to add to a raft of growth and learning that happened for me last year.

But why do I feel so reluctant to actually commit myself to my 2016 goals?

After all, I’ve seen first-hand what it means to “create the life you want”. I’ve lived my dreams, I’ve felt the fun, the joy and the adventure and success. So why wouldn’t I want to do that all over again?

I’ve also experienced some disappointments. Goals that, in the end didn’t really inspire me to take the actions – they were easy to let go, and there were those goals, that, for circumstantial reasons, just didn’t come together.

But in the end, despite these ‘failures’ I still rank 2015, as one of the best years I’ve had! Being able to look back and immerse myself in happy memories or watch the photos randomly appearing on my screen-saver always brings a smile to my face. So again, I’m left with wondering: why the dilly-dally-ing?!

Goal-getting matters. And writing down the brave acts and bold dreams you intend to accomplish will provide the spark to get them done.
Robin Sharma

As I reflect on what’s going on in my head, there seems to be two predominant thoughts that are delaying writing down my goals. They go something like this:

“2015 was so good, how can I possibly top that in 2016?”

And, the one a lot of people will be familiar with…

“What if I fail?”

Frankly, both of these ‘reasons’ for delay are about failure. The obvious one of actually failing to achieve my goal(s), and the less obvious reason of feeling that I need to set even bigger goals in order to make 2016 a worthy challenge!

Hmm, ok! Well at least that’s articulated the problem, but it seems slightly ridiculous now that it’s written down!

When I’m out and about talking to people about setting their goals, one of the things I stress is the importance of making sure the goals they are setting are theirs alone, and not driven by some need to placate someone else. The pressure we feel when we “should” do something is often palpable but sometimes unconscious.  Consequently, we enter into our goals without realising they are not truly ours. This will inevitably lead not only to failure, but unjustified feelings of regret and disappointment.

So who exactly am I trying to please here? Who will benefit from the goals I set, or, put another way, who may (or may not) judge me for the goals I set?

My family? My friends? My readers?  Possibly, but very probably not.

But in any event, I must remember that these are my goals, and so, the opinion of others as to what I should/shouldn’t be doing is largely irrelevant. My ultimate goal (for me) is to strive for the kind of life I want, with the things and experiences I desire captured through the passing years. The ultimate idea being that these things will make me happier, because isn’t that what we all really want?

Well, I’m glad I’ve cleared that up with myself!

So how to deal with those pesky thoughts of failure?

Well, yes, there were some things in 2015 that didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped or expected, but this is also true of the things that went well, because they turned out even better than I expected! So why am I letting this worry me? Frankly, it’s probably the same reason I’ve written above. I care what other people think of me! But in the words of Martha Graham:

What people in the world think of you is really none of your business.

We all place too much conviction in what other people think of us. We are pack animals and I guess we want to fit in, so having people like us is important. However, as we know, we can’t please all of the people all of the time, and so inevitably there are going to be those who have little to no interest in our goals, achievements and as it turns out, our failures. Voila!

So there’s my answer… if it’s none of my business what other people think of me and if I can’t please all of the people all of the time, then what’s to stop me just going for the goals that I feel drawn to?

But I can feel one more tiny (or is it huge?) critic waiting in the wings, ready to criticise my choices and ready to trip me up. This one of course lives within. It’s that inner voice telling me that my goals don’t really measure up to last year, but that if I go too big I’ll probably fail anyway!

I’m sure there are many ways to deal with my inner critic, but for me in these circumstances, having acknowledged that the little tyke is there, I’m now just going to ignore her and do my thing anyway! Yay! At last!

If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.
Les Brown

At last, no further excuses, it’s time to finish setting my goals down on paper. They are mine, I don’t need to worry about others opinions and whatever I choose to do, is right for me right now. The future has yet to come and so some things may change, some things may go in the fullness of time and others will be successful.

On balance, I think that’s enough for now!

December Prize Draw Winner!

December Winner

…and the winner is…

Wendy Salter!

Congratulations Wendy, you are my December winner!

Your prize – Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Livesby Gretchen Rubin is waiting for you to claim, so don’t waste any time, email me from the email address you used to sign up and let me know your postal address and your prize will be winging its way to you!

You have 14 days to claim your prize, so don’t delay! Continue reading

2016 Brace Yourself!

2016_1Wow!  It’s New Year’s Eve! How did that come around so quickly?  It’s a time for celebration and partying, a time for remembering and reflection and of course, a time for planning what 2016 will have in store for you! That’s just so exciting!

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.
― Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Oh yes, open the book and stare at the blank pages in anticipation of all the excitement that’s to come! I’ve just had the most memorable and amazing year, which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t written my goals down.

I’m not going to try to fool you and say that it was all sunshine and rainbows, we all have our challenges, but amongst those challenges has been the most wonderful 2015!

I sat on the train a couple of days ago on the way home from the 12th City Visit (in, more-or-less 12 months) and looked at all the photos I’d taken in 2015. I felt amazing as I looked at the recording of my life through the 12 months of 2015. Another goal completed…and I felt amazing!

The truth is that if I hadn’t actually gone to the ‘trouble’ of making written goals and then going public with my intentions, they would never have been achieved. I would have started strong and visited a few cities, read some books and remembered some birthdays, but then, as is often the case, life would have gotten in the way.

Well, actually, life did get in the way, on more than one occasion, but, the intention to complete my goals was strong and so, I kept going, in spite of the things that tried to distract me before I achieved success.

I’ll post a full review of all my goals in a few days, but let’s say it here and now: success has given me something special, from happy memories and personal growth to belief in myself that I can do what I set out to do!

And so we find ourselves back in that place again, facing the blank pages of 2016 and all the opportunities that are there for the making. Are you ready? Will you be making 2016 a year to remember, full of positive life events?

Or, are you on the cusp of 2016 not really sure what it is you want out of your life for the next 12 months? It can be downright difficult to plan just a month ahead, so it follows that planning for an entire 12 months can be completely overwhelming.

We might well have some lofty ideas of things to have, do and be, but we may lack confidence that we can pull it off…but so what? They’re our goals, we can downgrade, upgrade or drop a goal as and when we please and as circumstances change. There’s no shame in that. I changed my 12 Cities goal from 12 months to 14 months to get it completed, but I don’t see anyone complaining!

So you see, setting goals isn’t about setting everything in stone, but it is about giving your life a little more direction for the next 12 months. It kind of helps, when life knocks you around a little, to be able to pick up where you left off once the seas have settled again.

I’ve yet to fully decide on my goals for 2016, but I’ve already got a few ideas bubbling around my head, but of course, I need to get them out of my head and onto one of those blank pages. If you’re also at a point of wanting to set some goals, here’s what I’ll be doing to get my goal-setting exercise for 2016 out of my head and into the ‘here-and-now’. Hopefully it will help you too!

It’s important to consider two things when you’re setting your goals:

  • Balance – you don’t want to be doing things that make you feel stressed because they inadvertently unbalance your life;
  • Harmony – it helps if your goals are complementary, rather than incompatible, or, at the very least, you acknowledge that with incompatible goals, there may be limited success in both areas or one will probably win out over the other. Where the latter happens, this would probably indicate that one goal was more important to you than the other. This was a lesson I learned in 2015!

Using a ‘Wheel of Life’ template, I’ll be scoring myself in each area of my life. This process forms the basis for setting my goals, because it gives me a strong visual indication of how my life looks now, where the real gaps and challenges are and those areas which will only need ‘maintenance’ as the year unfolds. This maintenance mode is very important however, as I don’t want areas of my life to slide backwards as I push forward in other areas.

The areas I’ll be concentrating on this year will likely be: Contribution, Finances, Personal Growth, Relationships, Business, Fun & Adventure and Health & Fitness but for your own Wheel, choose areas that are important to you and label the spokes accordingly.  To be useful and meaningful this must be a personal exercise, so don’t worry about what anyone else thinks you should be doing!

Now the interesting part – score yourself in each of these areas out of 10 (high score). Don’t spend too much time on this, just go with your gut feeling and put a dot at the point that correlates with your feelings. Then, just join the dots!

Do you find the results interesting? I always do! I’m usually quite taken aback by how uneven the ‘circle’ is! This is the biggest clue about where the most effort will be needed to get my life back into harmony!

Next, I’ll pick three key areas for the year ahead where I really want to make a difference, these are usually obvious as they’ll have low scores. These are areas where I want to see changes in my life. I’ll be asking myself questions like:

• What would I like to do in this area?
• What would I like to accomplish in this area?
• What could I do differently this year?
• What are the small things/changes I could make to move myself further up the spoke?
• What would be a real ‘wow’, that if I achieved it (or even some of it), I would be ecstatic?

When you do this part of the exercise, let your mind really wander. Dig deep and don’t put restrictions on what can and can’t be achieved. Just let your mind do its thing and feel the happiness and excitement as all the possibilities well up inside you. This really is good fun!

Once that’s done, walk away for a bit. Go make a drink or walk around the block. You’ll find that your mind will continue to buzz with ideas. It’ll also start to sort the good from the not-so-good. After about 20 minutes or so, go back to your work. Now it’s time to start sorting the ideas so that they can be shaped into goals.

If you have a lot of ideas, try grouping them. Look for themes that are running through your ideas. Is there an overwhelming feeling/thing that needs addressing in order to make 2016 meaningful for you? Go with this!

For each of the three areas, choose one major thing that you would like to do/achieve. These will be your key goals. If you feel that you would like some ‘supporting goals’ in these areas, then write these down too. Are you satisfied with what you have so far? If not, go back to your ideas and re-sift, find the key theme and work this into a goal. Once you’re happy, it’s time to move on to the other spokes of the Wheel.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s important to keep a balance when working on our goals. It’s great to have big goals and look forward to a big life in 2016, but you don’t want to work to the exclusion and therefore detriment of other areas of your life.

So now, take a look at the other areas of your life and decide what may need a goal or two (repeat the process above) and what can be kept in ‘maintenance mode’, in other words, keep doing what already works!

It’s also useful to look out for goals that are complementary so that you can achieve more without much extra effort. For example, if you have a savings goal, you might also want to cut down on waste and recycle more things (‘Contribution’ spoke), or, you might want to do more craft projects (‘Hobbies’ / ‘Me Time’ spoke). These could double as gifts and therefore contribute to your savings goal. Similarly, a fitness goal could save on travel expenses if you walk or cycle instead of driving.

Finally, write all your goals down, on one sheet of paper and read them through. How will your life look on 31st December 2016 when you’ve achieved all your plans? Do you feel excited? Are you raring to get going? Great! You now have a set of goals that’s worth the effort to be expended, go for it! If not, tweak and tweak again until you feel excited and motivated!

What is your big project in the New Year? You don’t have one? No dream, no reality! Get a big dream for yourself now to get a big reality tomorrow!
― Mehmet Murat ildan

I wish you every success with your 2016 goals and hope this little practical exercise will help get you started. Your time is NOW! Go make 2016 amazing!