Amazing, isn’t it? One month into the year 2012 already! It feels as if we were just celebrating the much anticipated magnificent millennium (for those that counted from 0), when it was time to usher in 2001 (the real millennium, but without much fanfare.) Have your well intended January resolutions for the year included a lot of what you "should" do to improve your life? (“Shoulding” is one of those words that always creates negative energy.) Perhaps you have already dispensed with some of those “shoulds”. Well, get ready to rid yourself of the "could," "would," and "if only" syndrome and stop “shoulding” on yourself! Make time to reflect, review, revise, and renew and make room for an extraordinary life!!
Once upon a time, as a CPA, I helped business owners prepare periodic financial statements. As a PAC (Personal Achievement Coach), I now help my personal coaching clients prepare a Personal Development Statement (PDS) to determine their strengths, distractions, and self worth. A PDS serves as a visual reminder of our clear purpose and aids us in avoiding unnecessary struggles. (I’m a firm believer that while pain in life is inevitable, most suffering is an optional choice.)
The process of creating a PDS may take some time to prepare but is very important in planning for the future. If we omit this crucial process, we are apt to repeat the same mistakes time and time again or stay in the same rut we may find ourselves in today. (Its been said that if you always do things the way you’ve always done them, you’ll always get the same results!) We must reflect on where we have been, review the strategies that actually worked well, revise those that didn't, and renew our purpose and energy in order to achieve those things we have yet to achieve. I'm not suggesting that you spend your time rehashing old problems, rekindling flames of guilt, and laying blame for past wounds. I’m merely proposing that you will create better days by reflecting on the past with an objective, open mind and an attitude of gratitude. Gratefully and purposely acknowledge every experience as a challenge which tests your character and provides potential for wisdom. It becomes increasingly easier to get over it and get on with it! I call this having a GOGO attitude. (Yes, I do admit to wearing gogo boots in the 70’s.)
Responses to the steps below will help develop your PDS. Draw a line down the middle of a large sheet of paper. Label the heading on the left side STRENGTHS and the right side DISTRACTIONS.
1. Reflect on everything that has impacted your life in the past year.
a. Recall significant events, accomplishments, challenges you overcame, positive character traits you developed (see October article), and people who have touched your life. All of these events, outcomes, challenges, traits, and support networks represent your personal strengths. Make answers as brief as possible, and list them under STRENGTHS.
b. Even if you initially feel an event or experience was not a positive one, ask yourself: What was the best thing about what happened to me? What did I learn from this experience or person about myself, others, or my environment? The answers may reveal valuable lessons regardless of whether or not you achieved exactly what you set out to. Serendipity brings many revelations (ah-ha moments) to our door if we anticipate and welcome it! Answer as briefly as possible and use positive phrasing that incorporates a plan of action (what you will do). For example, instead of saying, "I should listen more carefully to what people are saying," use a phrase like, "I listen more carefully by asking clarifying questions." Use words that give you a feeling of success in the present. These phrases are the basis of positive affirmations which increase your strengths by infusing thoughts of forward motion and positive energy.
2. Review the different areas of your life that encompass your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being.
a. List these areas on a separate sheet of paper: Physical environment, Relationships (family, friends, community (includes civic, social and spiritual communities)), Health, Work/Career, Financial, Recreational, Personal Growth. Consider things you are grateful for, the values you live by, the present status of areas and any current challenges you are facing as well. Rate each area on a scale of 1 to 10. Determine your satisfaction standard. (Perhaps a 7 in one area is satisfactory, but a 9 is required for you to feel totally satisfied with another.) If you are satisfied with this area, record it under STRENGTHS. If you feel you can in any way improve your satisfaction with an area, record it on the right side of the paper under DISTRACTIONS. Until you are completely convinced that this area of your life is “as good as it gets” or meets your standards, you are just tolerating its annoyances and you will continue to be distracted by its energy drain on your well being. Coaching helps people eliminate tolerations.
b. Choose one or two areas you most want to improve and ask yourself three valuable questions:
1) Why do I really want to achieve a specific outcome? ("to be happy" is not specific enough). The reason has to inspire and excite you. With a strong enough "why," you'll do more than get by!
2) What are the underlying beliefs and resources required for me to take confident action? Strategies go astray if beliefs are not congruent with and resources do not support one's actions.
3) What specific actions must be taken daily, weekly, or monthly to achieve this outcome? Partnering up with a personal coach can increase your success!
3. Revise those strategies that haven't proven successful in the past. Perhaps doing something a little bit differently is all that is necessary to get better results. Ask yourself: What would the person I would like to become, do about this situation? How would the person I would like to become, do what I am about to do? Your answers represent a plan of action that might eliminate the DISTRACTION items listed.
4. Renew meaningful relationships.
Acknowledge the people you included in your support network under STRENGTHS. During the next week or month, take the initiative to recognize each of them in a meaningful way for creating a positive impact on your life. The comments or gestures must be genuine and authentic. You can do this in a three minute thank you note, e-mail greeting, having the person’s car washed, a floral delivery, or phone call today rather than waiting for "someday" to do it. Remember, someday is not a day of the week!
5. Renew your passion for life! Don't sweat the small stuff, celebrate it!
Often times, it is the small things that are the big things (especially in a relationship). The little things can add up to the truly monumental and meaningful experiences of our life that we generally recognize only when we look back with 20/20 vision to put the pieces together for our next PDS. Be thankful for all that happens to create those challenges in life. Only challenges can transform you into the person you want to be. Many people never take the time to celebrate their own accomplishments. Modesty may get in the way of celebrating them publicly, while habit or haste to meet the next goal gets in the way of privately acknowledging themselves for achieving the past one. Some people reach a goal, then immediately set and strive for the next goal without fully taking time to honor themselves for their current achievement. Then they wonder why life seems to have lost its meaning! These people suffer from Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS). RDS is what keeps you running the maze looking for the cheese without taking the time to savor the fragrant and enriching experiences of the journey. Keep RDS from running and ruining your life! This year, be mindful of the present and open to recognizing how important it is to acknowledge yourself and to celebrate your efforts along the way.
Make time to reflect, review, revise, and renew and you will make the year 2012 the most extraordinary beginning of the rest of our life! It's as easy as PIE. Prepare your PDS and plan your transformational strategies (preferably with a personal coach). Implement the strategies by making a firm commitment to take consistent and continuous action until you achieve positive results. Evaluate your progress periodically and determine the course corrections required to reach your desired outcome.
Filomena T. Day, is a Prosperity, Energy & Achievement Coach, Reiki Master Practitioner, Speaker, and Author. Co-Author of "A Healthier You", with Dr. John Gray and Billy Blanks. Co-Author of "Success Simplified - Simple Solutions, Measurable Results" with Dr. Stephen Covey, Dr. Tony Alessandra, and Patricia Fripp. Formerly a CPA, Filomena now helps people "balance" their lives and create powerful and meaningful personal and professional relationships. As a personal, business, and executive coach and Reiki Master Practitioner, she will help you identify and remove the distractions, obstacles, and tolerations that drain your valuable energy and keep you from achieving your true potential in whatever area of life you are seeking success. She also presents customized business professional development programs which incorporate the coaching process for effective results. Visit www.betterdays.net to see a complete list of popular programs. Filomena has presented many classes on interpersonal communication issues such as Conflict Prevention and Resolution, Time Management, Stress Management, Organizing Spaces (with feng shui), Dealing with Change, and has written numerous articles and columns for business and community publications since 1996.