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Charlotte Amalie
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HomeNewsArchivesJanuary 2009 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

January 2009 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

Jan. 16, 2009 – First, my slightly belated best wishes for a Happy New Year! This issue is all about how to get off to a great start:
1: First, focus on what went right
Making resolutions and often our thinking in general are about how to get what we don't have yet, or how to change the things we don't like. I'm all in favor of progress and improvement, but sometimes we forget to acknowledge all the things that we've done already or that we're lucky enough to have already. When we do remember those, we approach everything with a different frame of mind.
Action: Take just five minutes to jot down five good things that happened to you in 2008, five things for which you are grateful today, five people who have helped you along the way (these could be people you know or even people you've only read about who inspire you), and five good things you've done for others. In your calendar, make a note to repeat this exercise at the beginning of every month this year for the preceding month. You can also use it as a forward planning tool: five things you plan to enjoy, five people you plan to spend time with, five good deeds you'll do.
2: What will it be like?
Poets and novelists know the power of metaphor and it can help everyone else, too. How we see or characterize what happens to us has a lot to do with how well we deal with it. Right now most people are experiencing (or at least fear experiencing) tough times economically. Some will consider this a trial by fire. Others will think of it as a trip through the jungle to find a greater treasure. Can you imagine how different their journeys will feel, even if exactly the same things happen to them? It can be very powerful to select a metaphor for your journey.
Action: Decide on a metaphor for how you'd like this year to be. You can choose a song title, the name of a film or book, or your own phrase. (Hint: "A Journey to the Center of My Life" might be better than "Gone With the Wind"…). Write this down somewhere that you'll see it every day or at least every week. As things happen, consider how they fit into this metaphor and what you can do next to keep the metaphor apt. If you feel like sharing yours, I'd love to hear it: j4london@aol.com
3: My number one tip about goals: out of sight…
"Out of sight, out of mind." That applies to goals as much as to anything else. In fact, it's probably the number one reason that we fail to achieve our goals – we write them down, work on them for a while. Then other priorities get in the way – just temporarily, of course…and then one day we realize that it's been weeks if not months, and the juice has kind of gone out of the whole thing and it feels like another failure. The solution is to make sure you see that goal every day, so that if you don't work on it, it's by choice, not because it has slipped your mind.
Action: First, select only one goal. Not something you "should" do, or "could" do, or "would like" to do, but something you will do. State it in the present tense: "I am losing weight until I reach my goal weight of X and then I am maintaining it," or "I am writing my novel and will have finished it by X." Then figure out how you can keep this in front of you so it's the first thing you see every day.
4: My number two tip about goals: something's gotta give…
The second main reason people abandon their goals is that they set out to do something new, something they were not doing before – maybe exercising three days a week, or spending a half day every weekend on writing their book, or going to an evening class once a week. But they don't stop to consider that if this new thing is going to take time, something old will have to give way. What will you stop doing in order to have the time to start doing something new?
Action: Figure out how much time per week (or day, or month) your number one goal will take. Then decide where that time will come from. What will you stop doing in order to free up that time? If necessary, make this change clear to others in your life. Then schedule that new activity and consider it as solid and inviolable as a doctor's appointment.
5: My third (last) tip about goals: the decisions take only seconds
The result of your goal may be measured in months or even years, but the decisions that lead to it (or away from it) are made in seconds. At the supermarket, when you're tempted to pick up that big chocolate bar even though you're on a diet…at home when you look out the window and see that it's raining and it would be so much cozier to stay in than to go to that evening class halfway around town…on Saturday morning when it would be so nice to sleep an extra hour or two rather than get up and work on the business plan for your new venture. The key is to recognize those decision points…pause…and make them consciously. You'll still grab the chocolate bar once in a while (let's not get totally obsessed) but you'll do it knowing that the price may be an extra half hour at the gym or a long walk through the park.
Action: What are the key decision points for your number one goal? When and where do they occur? If you think about them in advance, you'll be able to pause when they come up and consider which way leads to reaching the goal that means something to you. When you make the "wrong" decision, consider why and whether there's another way of getting whatever it buys you. (Example: If you go for the chocolate bar because you're depressed and eating it would cheer you up, what else would do the job but not get in the way of your weight goal?)
If your goal is to write that book this year, you'll find lots of resources at www.timetowrite.com site. and, of course, also in my book, "Your Writing Coach" and its associated Web site: www.yourwritingcoach.com.
6: And a quote to consider:
"To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act." – Anatole France
Until next time,
PS: If you haven't looked at my blog lately, you've missed posts on how to get things done despite internet distractions, some common language mistakes you may be making (do you really understand when to use "begs the question"?), a simple tip for procrastinators, how sleep relates to creativity, how to get out of a rut and many more. Why not have a look right now – at www.timetowrite.blogs.com ?
If you want to a free course (8 mini-lessons, one per week) on overcoming procrastination, just sign up at www.tameyourinnercritic.com. You'll also find a wealth of right-brain breakthrough ways to achieve your goals in my newest book, "Focus: The Power of Targeted Thinking." The Web site for it is

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