Balance · Goals

Start Small: Part 2 in a Series About Finding Balance

If you are reading this series on finding balance in your life, you might feel that you are in crisis mode. In that case, you might not like what I have to say to you over the next few paragraphs. This also means that you might want to stop reading and move on to another Google page about finding balance in your life. But I really hope you’ll finish this out. I think I have some good advice for you… even if you might not like everything I have to say here.

Here is my advice. Start small. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And your life didn’t get to this possible breaking point over night. This was a step-by-step process based on experiences you’ve faced and decisions you made. Am I saying that you alone are responsible for any current unhappiness? Of course not. But you alone will be responsible for changing your current situation. Sometimes this might not be pretty. You cannot change anyone but yourself. This requires an in-depth and truthful look at your contribution to your current situation. This might be scary and hard to do, but you must do it if you want true change to occur in your life. Find some paper, a writing utensil, and let’s get started.

Choose one area of your life that you would like to change. This should be something small, but you are the master of your life, so what you choose is really up to you. Let me give two brief reasons as to why you should start small. First, you really have to be honest with yourself about your situation, which can be very challenging. This will give you practice for the big changes. Second, accomplishing this small task will give you the motivation and sense of success to keep moving forward. First, ask yourself if you are really ready to take on the truth of your involvement in this area. Then, ask yourself if you are ready to accept the responsibility and accountability of the task at hand. Ready?

Go ahead and pick the area in your life that you feel is giving you grief of some kind, causing you anger, frustration, shame, annoyance…. This could be generic such as finances or career. Complete the following steps:

1. Answer this question: Where am I in this area of my life? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best rating), what would you currently give this area? Now explain why you have given this area that number. Don’t forget to be honest about your contribution to the number. Your contribution might even be inaction instead of certain actions you have taken.

2. Now write down all of things that are holding you back. These might include yourself along with other people, certain life situations, family obligations, or finances. Be honest. It’s time to take full stock of your situation and being dishonest is not going to help you accomplish your goals.

3. Now that you have given it a current rating, let’s take a look at what life would be like if we had given it a 10. Describe in detail what this area of your life would look like in order for you to label a 10 here. You can do this in a paragraph or in a list, but the more detailed you are, the better off your will be in the following steps. Don’t talk in terms of the rest of your life. You want the bare bones/nitty gritty of what a 10 should be in this area. For example, if I focused on finances, I might put down that a 10 would require me to have a certain amount in savings along with a certain amount in my retirement fund. It might also mean that I would never have to live paycheck to paycheck or that I would have enough money to live on should I ever be laid off from my job. Keep in mind that I would put down how much money that would require. After figuring out what your 10 would look like, you might want to revisit step 2 (what is holding you back) to add more.

4. In step 3, you looked at what needed to be achieved by defining a 10 in the area. Now it’s time to take a look at the reasons you want to change this area. What would it mean to you and your life if you finally achieved a 10 here? How would you feel? What could you do? What would be different once this is accomplished than it is now? Be detailed.

5. You chose an area, explained why it’s not good, detailed what this area should look like, and reminded yourself why it’s important to change this aspect of your life. It’s time to plan by starting small. Take a look at step 3 again. Basically, you have created a list of goals to be achieved. Choose 1 smaller goal. These are goals that can be accomplished in a shorter amount of time and do not require a major life overhaul. Don’t choose a big one yet. Practice mastering these steps using smaller goals to build your confidence.

6. Create an action plan. Make a list of the steps that need to be completed in order to accomplish this small goal. Include every little detail. Let’s use the finances example again. You will probably think about creating a budget, but there are so many different types of budgets out there to fit different lifestyles. Because of this, you might want to research budget styles before finding the perfect one. You also might want to save receipts for an entire month to see where you are really spending your money along with looking at your transactions online for a month. If you are consistently late paying bills, one of your steps might be to switch to automatic withdrawal or online bill paying.

7. Once you create your list of steps, it’s important to give yourself a timeframe and deadlines for accomplishment. You must be realistic here. If one of your steps is to save receipts for a month, you can’t complete it in 3 weeks. Budgets can’t be written in 10 minutes. However, don’t give yourself two weeks to go over your online transactions when this could be done in a lot less time. Set firm deadlines and stick with them.

8. It’s time to begin. Start with the first step on your list and don’t look back. Once you start accomplishing the smaller tasks, you will find that achieving your goals isn’t as difficult as you thought it might be. Once you feel that you have this area of your life in control, and you can rate it a 10, move on to another area! Keep doing this until you have the life you were meant to live.

A moment of truth. You might be reading this blog and thinking, “Yeah! I can do this!” I am the last person who would want to burst your bubble. However, I’m going to do it anyway. None of this will matter if you don’t stick with it. None of it will matter if you don’t follow through. None of it will matter if you don’t take it seriously. And none of it will matter if you wait for someone else to come save you. You are your own hero. Put on the cape and just get it done.

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