Yearly Review – Goal setting: why and how

I review my life in a more formal way twice a year and I often make an article to sell you on doing it also. Here’s this years pitch, enjoy.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
– Soren Kierkegaard

I think an important thing in ones life is to recognize there are some rules to the game. Like most games they have things in common, a goal of some kind. Some goals like soccer, you put a ball into the net. Others like running is to finish, ahead of others or just finish.

Many people apply interesting rules to interesting games. Sometimes it works and others it’s a disaster. Let’s work through some.

Sailing has a concept of “Get your head out of the boat.” There is a lot going on when a sailboat is underway. Sometimes a skipper may spend too much attention on the boat and not keep their eyes looking out to keep on course and miss objects. If you have sailed long enough, you have hit something you should have seen and something bad happened inside the boat you could have caught, if only you had been looking. It’s a balancing act, it takes time, it generates scar tissue, it generates stories, it leads to wisdom and experience. Likely the two most valuable commodities on earth.

Having a plan on how much you look out at navigation/strategy, and how much at in the boat operations is important to getting where you are trying to go.

Never make your value as a human related to what you achieve. You don’t control the outcomes. There are millions of variables. If you do achieve it how much and how long are you happy for? Week, month, year, then what, go achieve more? Of course we are going to try and achieve. I said do NOT relate that to your value as a human. Love the process of what you are doing. Get into the moment of now and appreciate it. What happens, happened.

There is a lot of random in the world, one moment I was a healthy 21 year old, the next I was hit by a drunk driver and was never the same. Sometimes you get some events that seem truly unfair. Gather up the facts and go from there.

We’d do anything to make our kids lives better. If you don’t have kids, skip this paragraph. If I could give you a pill and it would guarantee your child a healthy, happy, prosperous life would you buy it from me? If you said “no” you are having a bad day.

I get to spend a bit of time with sick kids and it’s cruel joke to say that “magic pill” is available to the child and the parents in that position. They would crawl across broken glass if it existed.
Many ‘experts’ say our biggest desire is to make our childs lives better. I agree, but how?

Lead by example.

What can I do that will help me lead by example and help me do well at the game of life? Here are 6 ideas.

1. Health. If you have health you have a “1”. Everything else you have is a “0”. Your money, looks, relationships, travel, stuff, car, watch, kids, house…… They are all zero’s and without that one. They are worthless!

Every year I make a goal to improve my health. This year it is my abductor muscles and lower abdomen integrity. (the goals only need to make sense to the writer.)

2. Relationships. “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” Jim Rohn. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but you will be hugely influenced by the people you hang out with. All groups can provide inputs that stimulate parts of you.

Does that mean if you hang around people with fancy cars you are more likely to get one. Yes, if you can swing it. Why? It’s the normal for you. You gravitate to what is your normal. If you don’t choose your normal, it will be inserted into your life for you.

COVID has done more to hurt relationships than anything in memory. Every year I make a goal to improve relationships. This year is to have a friend(s) over for dinner once a month.

3. Moderate level of financial stability. Rich is relative, financial independence is better. Have you read the story of the Italian fisherman and the rich business person? Basically money ain’t everything. But a certain level is, studies say it’s currently $75-150K. Here is a great paper on it.
At 18 a family friend and ‘financial advisor’ sold me a crappy investment. I found out about it 5 years later. I then went on to get my licenses in financial advising. There are SOOOOOOOOOOO many great internet resources on finance spend a hour a week reading and it will help.

Getting financial independent quickly is hard. Slowly is easy. I can appreciate, ow can I, that unplanned events really can kick us, but gather up the facts and go from there.

My goal this year is to keep the course. I have been at the financial thing a long time. I manage risks and keep tabs on what’s going on.

4. Aspirations: why am I doing this? Earlier I wrote it is to make our children’s lives better than ours and I agree. But is there more?

Aspirations are dreams, hopes, or ambitions to achieve a life goal.1 They can be thought of as overarching life goals that can help provide a sense of purpose and direction. Back to sailing.

Sailing is an odd sport. Get a destination and whatever you do, don’t point the boat in that direction till the very end. In sailing generally the way to your destination is at angles towards it. You may not appear to be going straight at your goal, but you are doing your best. Life is like that sometimes.

If you have clearly defined written aspirations it’s like a lighthouse helping you navigate to your destination.

This years aspirations are to help guide my child through the mid teen years, preparing to leave the nest. Personally I aspire to develop my Chi more. It is better if you have clearly written goals. Keeping them only in your memory has been show to lower success rates.

5. What are my ambitions? what do I want out of this (link is just an example list), my achievements, lets have some fun!

Have you read: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,
But do you know the second line? All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.

But what is fun, what is my bucket list? I have friends who think it’s a fancy car, house, trip and for other friends it’s a grass hut and silence.

It’s up to you. But if you can read this you are likely privileged in the world. There is some responsibility to enjoy that. Others would say there is responsibility to do good by others in the world. You can do both, many do neither.

I have several ambitions one is to expose my child to some less fortunate than us. Being born in Canada is a huge stroke of luck. During hard times, which we all will experience, I think of that luck, it helps me.

6. Day to day activities: Inch by inch it’s all a cinch, by the yard it’s hard. Go for it — no matter how slow or long the process seems at first. Mardi Ballou
I love Atomic Habits and Tiny Habits for this topic, it’s really that simple, build better habits. Then start doing small things that inch towards your goals.

The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step -Laozi.
Small efforts – over a long period of time – can lead to tremendous success.

I started training in Medicine in 1996 full time, I was at it every day. By around 2007 I felt I deserved to be there. It took a while. Today I still study 4-7 days a week and sometimes I still think I deserve to be here. It’s tough some days. My teachers say it’s good to have goals with no end, I can always improve as they do. So I keep on my journey.

If I, or you, or someone is going to set lofty goals and go after them, It is very unlikely going to be a straight line, an easy line, a understood process. Sometimes we go and go and go and go and fail. But failure is a necessary step to harden us, teach us, test how much we actually want the goal. I have often wished it was easy. Then one day it was, the day I got that goal.

Action phase:

What do I want in the next year? What can I do in the next 5 minutes to get closer to that?

  1. Write down on one side of a sheet of paper.
    In 2023 I will improve my Health by: ____________
    In 2023 I will improve my relationships by: _________

“You can graduate with the finest degrees. You can read the most useful books. You can enjoy the loving support of family and friends.
But your degrees can’t take action for you. Your books can’t make the decision for you. Your family can’t live your life for you.
There is no substitute for courage. At some point, you have to make the choice.”

It’s one year from now. December 2023. The habit you were hoping to build during the year didn’t stick. What is the most likely reason it failed?
James Clear

A super key is to build habits. Those habit books, Tiny Habits and Atomic Habits are available free at the library. Choose to win, this life is not a rehearsal.

Happy New Yer,
Ward Willison
Kelowna Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies

source materials for this article:

The Knowledge Project: Best of 2022 [The Knowledge Project Ep. #155]
3-2-1: The New Year, second chances, and a simple way to start striving toward your dreams

1.American Psychological Association. Aspiration. APA Dictionary of Psychology.

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