“Life is worthwhile if you plan. Design your life or someone else will.”
~ Jim Rohn ~
At the risk of sounding like the plethora of self-help hacks out there, I have a list of steps that anyone thinking of overhauling their life for the better can take to meet their goals. I have applied these to my life over the years, and while my plans and goals have changed multiple times, my means to get there have not. Most recently, when I was feeling that my family life had become a casualty of my high-powered career, I asked myself the questions below to come to the conclusion that I needed to take a break from my job and focus on my children by moving to Costa Rica. By no means am I delusional enough to think that everyone out there is in the position to quit their job, sell their home, sell their cars, stuff all their remaining belongings into a storage unit, and move to a different country to start a new life. But regardless of the circumstance, I do think that anyone out there who wants to change his or her life has the power to do so. Whether you want to change your career, relationship, attitude, or weight, the only person who can effect change is you.
Ask yourself these questions regarding your job, relationships, body, or life in general:
1) Where do I want to be in 5 years? What about 10 or 15 years? Be honest with yourself when you answer these questions. Come up with a realistic trajectory, no matter what you do. For example, before I moved to Costa Rica, my 10-15 year plan was to become the Associate Dean of Education at my medical school or somewhere else. Now my goals are completely different, but I keep a constant dialogue with myself regarding how I see my future. Your future self should direct the actions of your present self.
2) What will help me achieve my 5-, 10-, or 15-year plan? Do you need more training or education? Do you need to be more assertive with your significant other? Do you need to change the way you eat? Do you need to start exercising? Think about this very seriously.
3) What am I doing now that will help me achieve my goals? Redesigning your life does not mean you have to re-invent the wheel or change everything about yourself. Will working on that new project at work help you get that promotion you always wanted? Keep it! Don’t change the aspects of your life that will help you achieve your goals. Reinforce these actions or behaviors that will lead to positivity in your life.
4) Who needs to be on my team to success? We all need a support structure to achieve success. Most of the time, you don’t need your team to provide anything for you except encouragement and support. Sometimes you will need more. You may need your partner to pick up the slack at home if you need further training or will be going to the gym after work. Communicate your needs! Talk to your boss. Talk to your friends. Talk to your parents and siblings. Talk to your partner. You may find that some of the people you thought would be the wind beneath your wings will actually be stumbling blocks to your goals. While I would not suggest that you should ditch those people, you will need to find an alternate source of support. This is where social media comes in. You want to lose weight but none of your friends are interested in joining you at the gym? Find other like-minded individuals on Twitter or Facebook or Google+. You will find so much encouragement and inspiration through social media.
5) What changes do I need to make to achieve my 5-, 10-, and 15-year goals? This is the nitty gritty question that serves as a call to action. Do you want to be married with children in 5 years but your partner does not want to commit to anything other than fantasy football leagues? Ditch that partner and check out eHarmony! Do you want to lose weight? Ditch your daily Grande caramel macchiato from Starbucks and start walking around the block each night. Fortunately, most of the time you don’t need to get rid of someone or something to be able to change your life for the better. For example, let’s say your partner is an overall good person but does not help you with the chores. Instead of fuming silently with anger about a pile of dirty dishes, how about asking your partner to help you with the cleaning? Hopefully it will not end up like this!
How about coming up with a responsibility schedule that fits you both? For essentially all of our married life, I have done all the cooking. Chris washes all the dishes and cleans the kitchen after each meal. I am in charge of putting away leftovers. Each of us knows exactly what our role is. This very simple strategy has saved us many arguments and misunderstandings. Remember that your partner, boss, and body cannot read your mind. You must be assertive about what needs to change.
Only you can answer these questions for yourself. Once you have answered them honestly, make those changes with the support of your team. You will find that there is no need to be stuck in a toxic environment, whether it is at home or at work. You can change it!