As we continue with Live Happy’s 90 Days to a Happier You challenge, join editor Chris Libby for part two of his blog series as he attempts to maintain the goals he set with the help of coach Caroline Miller.
So, we are 45 days into my 90-day program of goal-setting and I am already starting to see positive changes. I like running, so one my first goals was to start my workouts in the morning instead of after work. The result has been more energy when I get to work and more time at night to spend with my family—both positive things. I haven’t created more hours in the day; I just rearranged my activities to get as much efficiency out of it as I can.
Another useful assignment from my coach, Caroline Miller, was to write an essay about my best possible self 10 years from now, including all the things I’d like to accomplish if there were no limits. By 2026, I wrote, I would have successfully completed two marathons, continued to flourish in my career and saved money to travel abroad with my family. My daughter is growing up to be thoughtful and caring about those around her. And I have completed a Zen garden that surrounds a hammock swinging in my backyard.
Back in the real world, I do have a hammock in my backyard and I’ve often thought about creating a landscaped area around it—something Zen-like and calming. That was supposed to be my summer project of 2015. Here we are in 2016 and it's still not complete. Every time I walk into the yard, I see the hammock above the patch of barren land.
This constant reminder of unfinished business can do one of two things: motivate me to finish my landscaping goal or fill me with negative thoughts and regret. I am currently experiencing the latter, because the hammock has been a lower priority than some of my more immediate goals.
I have what Caroline calls “too many willpower goals.” It turns out we only have enough bandwidth to effectively accomplish one or maybe two goals at a time and do it well. Once we start to pile too many things on our plate, we can get distracted and discouraged. Regrets start to seep in and we don’t have the ability to fight off the temptation and just give up.
Put your goals in order of priority
Because I’ve set so many goals for myself during this project, including waking up earlier, getting more organized at work, running more, saving for travel and landscaping … one or more will inevitably get less attention. I know that I am not a landscaper and that is probably why this particular goal is at the bottom of my list, but I still feel badly about not completing it.
Caroline says it’s OK to set priorities and be realistic about the goals we won’t complete. As it so happens, winter is not a great time to relax on a hammock anyway. I’ve even taken it down, so I am no longer reminded of an incomplete garden and I can focus my time and energy on more immediate goals. I will have a Zen garden, just not today or even tomorrow. In my essay, the exercise was to picture my goals in the next 10 years; not everything has to be completed in the first three months.
Chris Libby is Live Happy's section editor.