When the weather starts to turn warm each spring, I clean and organize the tangible aspects of my life. Closets are emptied, unnecessary belongings are purged, and everything is wiped clean.
A couple of weeks before the end of the year, I undertake a similar task for the intangibles in my life. I reflect on the past year, take inventory of my accomplishments, setbacks and goals, and then I assign myself tasks for the coming year.
I started these inventories at age 23. My first inventory sent me on the adventure of my life, a respite from my career as a newspaper copy editor to teach English in Korea in 2005. The second took me along the less-traveled road to home. Another helped me realize I wasn't happy as a business reporter and eventually led me to my wonderful job here at SparkPeople. Who knows what this year will hold?
When I took my first inventory, it came shortly after a good friend sagely advised: "Don't try to live your life all at once. Slow down and enjoy it."
Instead of stressing because I had 35 pounds to lose, I relaxed and focused on making better choices each day. Instead of quitting my job, fleeing my mundane life and moving overseas immediately, I spent six months researching my decision and getting my life in order.
Here are my 6 tips for taking inventory of your life:
1. Be specific. Don't say you want to lose weight or travel. Say you want to visit the Grand Canyon or lose 25 pounds.
2. Be realistic. Give yourself ample time to achieve your goals. You can't lose 25 pounds in two weeks, and it's hard to change your life overnight.
3. Be understanding. If you twist your ankle and are laid up for two weeks, cut yourself some slack. Sure, your weight loss might plateau, but keep your motivation levels up and you'll bounce back faster.
4. Be accountable. Tell people about your goals. Write them down, post them on your SparkPage, and tell your partner or friends.
5. Be flexible. Life gets in the way. Plans change. Let them change. If you suddenly decide that those last 10 pounds would be vanity weight loss, it's OK to change your goal. It's also OK to decide to lose 35 pounds or 50 pounds instead of 25, if that what feels right to you. If you can't afford to make it to the Grand Canyon, go to Red River Gorge instead. Small steps count!
6. Be positive. Whether you reach your goal, fall short or surpass it, keep your chin up. Just changing your attitude is an accomplishment. You can always amend your goals.
To keep myself accountable, I'm sharing my goals for 2009:
Outside of nutrition/fitness:
Thanks for letting me share my life inventory for 2009. Do you take inventory of your life? Will you?
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