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You need goals to be happy

Ancient philosophers believed that human beings are naturally oriented towards achieving goals. Today modern science confirms this. There is an innate drive within humans to reach for a target, to better ourselves and to progress in various areas of our lives.

Setting goals and achieving them is one of the secret habits of happy people.
People who are less satisfied with their lives on the other hand, tend to wander aimlessly.

I believe it was Alice in Wonderland who said, "if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there". In other words, if you do not have a goal or an aim in life, you really don't need a plan or a path. This is generally not a recipe for a meaningful life.

So, do consider setting some concrete goals this year. Even if you do not achieve all of them you will be further along than you are now.

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How are your New Year Resolutions going?

Did you make New Year Resolutions this year? How are they going?

If you are like most people, you made some resolutions (that you have made before) and are already beginning to fall behind. Statistics show that less than 10% of people who make New Year Resolutions end of keeping them for the duration of the year with most people failing to keep their resolutions within the first quarter of the year.

Does this mean that we should just give up and not work at becoming better or achieving progress in various areas of our lives?

Not at all.

We just need to rethink how we are going about it. In other words we need to set ourselves up for success so that we have the best chance of achieving what we are working towards.

As a first step we need to move from making resolutions to setting goals. What's the difference, you ask?

A goal has is a clearly defined target while a resolution is just a hopeful change that requires no plan. We can resolve in our minds to make improvements, but until...

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Recharge

As we struggle to get end of year tasks completed and deadlines met, it is a good idea to remind ourselves that taking time off at the end of the year is not a luxury – it is a necessity.

In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore writes, "We seem to have a complex about busyness in our culture. Most of us do have time in our days that we could devote to simple relaxation, but we convince ourselves that we don't."

The busyness that Moore talks about does not end with the workday. There are always tasks that need completing, people that need our attention, emails that need answering. The list goes on. The continuous demand for our energy and attention is not going away anytime soon. In fact, as one wise person said, "on the day that we die, our inbox will still be full".

What this means that we have to be intentional about taking time to recharge. It will not happen automatically.

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Unsubscribe

Part of my new end of year ritual is to make room in my life by letting go of what is no longer serving me.

How many things are you continuing to do because they once made sense but no longer do?

Today I unsubscribed from a bunch of services, email newsletters and notifications that I realized are causing me more anxiety than joy. Things that were meant to be tools towards productivity, creativity or joy but were now mere tasks to get through. It is so easy to get stuck doing the same thing without pausing for a moment to check whether it still makes sense.

So, go ahead. (not from the Daily Wisdom, I hope!)

You will be glad you did.

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Stop and fill up your car

I have a confession to make. I hate filling gas in my car. I would rather just hurry up and get to my destination. I consider stopping to fill up the tank a nuisance and a waste of time.

Now you might be thinking: “that is ridiculous! Obviously if you don’t stop to fill up, you will run out and stop in the middle of the road”.

Well, before you are so quick to judge me consider this: is there an area in your life (a “domain”) where you are too busy driving to ‘fill up the tank’? Do you wait until the ‘warning light’ comes on, and sometimes even fail to pay attention when it does, resulting in a mini crisis (who me?).

Are you ignoring your health, your relationships or your spirituality? Or just ‘cruising’ in these areas without taking the time to renew, rejuvenate or refresh?

Is this so very different from being too busy driving to stop and fill up the car?

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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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