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What are your roles in life?

When we are doing the end of year reflections and setting goals for the new year, it is easy to focus on one or two areas of life which we may be preoccupied with at the moment while ignoring others.

Living our best self requires us to pay attention to all aspects of our lives, even areas which may not immediately come to mind.

The first step in thinking this way is to define the 'domains' of our life. Another way look at it is to consider our various roles in life at present, at home, at work, in our communities and in the world at large.

For example, here are some 'domains' which may be applicable to you:

The health domain
The spiritual domain
The work domain
The business domain
The marriage domain
The parenting domain
The volunteering domain
The community service domain
The domain of family relationships/family of origin, extended family
The domain of friendships
The home organization domain
The domain of self growth and actualization

Do you get the picture?

So start making a list of the...

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What were the biggest lessons learnt this year?

Did you get a chance to 'clean up' unmet goals and commitments over the weekend?

As we continue with our end of year review, let us reflect on the life lessons that this year has taught us.

It is important to reflect on lessons learnt, because it has been said that those who don't learn from their past are doomed to repeat it.

So what are some of the lessons you have learnt this year?

While you are writing them down, it is a good idea to write them in short positively worded statements such as:

1) I learnt that if I keep taking small consistent steps towards a goal, they really add up
2) I learnt that it REALLY pays off to bite my tongue when I want to be right
3) I learnt that God always sends a sign when I need it the most. I need to be clear in asking for it, though!

Do you feel like sharing some of your life lessons from this year? I would love to hear them!

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What needs to be cleaned up?

As we continue with end of year reflections, let us tackle some more challenging questions:

What are some goals that you did not meet?
Commitments you did not end up keeping to yourself?
Commitments that you did not end up keeping to others?
People that you need to apologize to? (hard one, this!)

The end of year is an excellent time to review what did not end up happening this year. Declare it not done, and either recommit or let it go.

It is not a good idea to ignore it or carry it forward to next year because it is sapping your unconscious energy.

A fresh start requires that we are intentional about endings as well.

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What were your wins this year?

It is very useful to begin the process of reflection by acknowledging what went well. Research suggests that when we pause for a moment to reflect on what we are already doing well, it encourages and motivates us to tackle the less-than-easy stuff on our task and project list.

Here are some questions to get you going:

1) What are my 3 biggest successes for this year?
2) The next 3?
3) What are the small successes that were the most challenging for me?
4) What is a smart decision that I made this year?
5) What are 3 ways that I have grown this year? (have I become fitter, more patient, begun to speak up . . .?)

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The one thing you must do before setting goals for next year

If you are anything like me, about this time every year, you ask yourself the same question: where did the year go?

Some of us get into a mad dash at the end of the year, trying to accomplish everything that we meant to do this year. Others are already thinking ahead to January and planning what goals they want to set for next year.

In order to start the year 2017 off well, there is a very important step we need to take right now.

Taking stock of this year as it ends.

Writing an end of year reflection is an excellent way to acknowledge your successes and wins and start considering where and how you might do better next year.

Begin by setting aside some time in your calendar over the next week to complete your end of year reflection. We will start going through some questions to help us with this starting tomorrow.

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Check your assumptions!

Human beings are meaning making machines. We often take 2 + 2 and make it 22, filling in all the missing numbers in our head.

Making assumptions, or mindreading as it is also called, is not always a problem. When I am grocery shopping for example, I will often pick up things that I assume my family will like.

Other times, however, when we make assumptions about what someone is thinking, why they are doing what they are doing or what they are thinking, we need to remind ourselves that it is very possible that our assumptions are wrong.

The only way to know for sure if our assumptions about someones behaviour or thinking is to check them out.

How? Just ask!

"why did you . . ."
"why didn't you . . ."
"am I right in thinking that . . ."
"would love to know your thoughts"
"how do you see this"
"am I right in thinking . . ."
"help me understand . . ."

This week just begin to notice how many times you are assuming what is the motive behind someone's action. And then check your assumptions. You...

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The secret sauce of relationships

Do you know how to almost instantly turn around a struggling relationship? Start noticing what the person is doing right. And acknowledge it.

When we are upset at someone, it is easy to start focusing on what they are doing wrong and how they are annoying us. However, most people in our lives are doing more things that are right and wrong. It is just that the human mind tends to focus on what is wrong while ignoring or taking for granted what is right.

Your 16 year old, for example, might be driving you crazy because he just cannot clean up his room, or wakeup without being nagged. These annoyances become the focus of your relationship because this is what you notice. You take for granted that he helps out without being asked, is loving and plays with his little sister for hours.

To turn the relationship around, just start acknowledging the things that you have been taking for granted. Even small, tiny things. Once you start looking for what he is doing right, it is amazing how the...

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Celebrate efforts rather than results

family parenting Dec 01, 2016

A very useful application of our discussion on focusing on process rather than outcome is with our children.

When we praise children for the grades or accolades that they may achieve, it can often stress them out. They cannot control the grades they get any more than we can control whether or not we are promoted at work.

Their grades depend on so many things, the mood of the teacher (!), how others did and where they stand in relation to the rest of the class. NONE of which they can do anything about.

What children can control, is the amount of time and effort they put into any project.

When we praise the effort, if encourages them to work harder and give it their best, regardless of what the final grade or outcome is. Praising effort is a VERY powerful way to motivate children to do their best.

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Perfection versus excellence

Let us talk about excellence. Excellence is "the quality of being outstanding or extremely good". Not perfect. Just "extremely good".

Compared to perfection, which can only be achieved in the final outcome, excellence is something that we can choose to practice moment by moment.

The standard of excellence empowers us to keep giving our best. It is focused on effort rather than outcome. On the process rather than the outcome. We could give it our best and achieve an excellent result, even though it is far from perfect.

This is why I call myself a recovering perfectionist. Each time the 'perfection monster' whispers in my ear: "You did not do that perfectly" or "That could have been much better", I remind myself how perfect is the enemy of good. And how done is better than perfect.

It is the only way to move forward, really.

How about you? Are you ready to try practicing excellence rather than pursuing perfection?

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Are you pursuing perfection?

The pursuit of perfection is one of those concepts that can keep us stuck and feeling disheartened in many areas of our life. We aim to be the perfect parent, the perfect spouse and the perfect human being.

The dictionary definition of perfect is: without fault, faultless, flawless.

Since deep down many of us believe that human beings cannot be perfect, we are chasing a goal that is, by definition, impossible. Not very smart, is it?

When we set our goal as being perfect, we are in a sense setting ourselves up for failure. Anything less than the achievement of perfection is by definition not success.

The pursuit of perfection means that our eyes are only on the outcome, on the final result. The steps we take to get there and what we achieve on the way really do not matter until we have achieved perfection.

It is no wonder that so many of us end up feeling disheartened. What is the point? We tell ourselves, why bother to do anything if we cannot be perfect?

How about exploring a...

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