Category Archives: Growth

How to Affirm Yourself & Encourage Others?

Positive Affirmation Statements-Image
Positive Affirmation Statements-Image

“Be Kind. For Everyone You Meet is Fighting A Battle You Know Nothing About.”

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The need to feel affirmed, supported or appreciated is one of the most deep-seated needs that all human beings have. From time to, we all will need a “pick me upper”, a personal boost, or a word of encouragement to help us move forward. Afterall, some days are better than others. Some struggles longer and harder, and some experiences more painful and disappointing than the ones before. So, what do you tell yourself when the going gets tough and your best laid plans or best intentions fail or fall short?

When faced with new, uncertain, or challenging situations, one of the first thing that many people do is to question themselves and their abilities. In so doing, they risk becoming paralyzed or overwhelmed by fear, fatigue, doubt and a lack of focus. Others may even become overwhelmed by negative thoughts as they question their abilities, resources, or self-worth. Affirmations have been touted as a powerful strategy for people to use to tackle and overcome negative thinking and inspire themselves and others.

Importance of Affirmations

According to Psychology Today , affirmations are  defined as  “positive phrases or statements used to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts.” Love them or hate them,  “affirmations are used to reprogram the subconscious mind, to encourage us to believe certain things about ourselves or about the world and our place within it.”  This view is supported by Walter E. Jacobson, M.D., who argues that, “there is value in affirmations of this nature, because our subconscious mind plays a major role in the actualization of our lives and the manifestation of our desires. What we believe about ourselves at a subconscious level, he says, can have a significant impact on the outcome of events.”

Afterall, you can’t do difficult things with negative thoughts. Just as you use positive affirmations to shape your thoughts and actions for good, if you flood your mind with negativity, this is likely to lead to negative outcomes. In that, the more often you speak negative affirmations (E.g., I can’t do it) about yourself and your situation, the more likely you are to believe it and act accordingly. And overtime, these self-limiting beliefs and self-defeating behaviors will hold you back and become a form of self -fulfilling prophecy. So, if you get to choose what you affirm about yourself or your situation, why not make it positive?

The-Power of Affirmations-Image
The -Power- of -Affirmations- Image

The Power of Affirmations

I know first-hand, the importance of using words of affirmations to encourage myself and others as one of my daughter’s love languages is words of affirmations. In his book the 5 Love Languages, Chapman describe words of affirmations as “unsolicited compliments and encouragement offered to someone to express love or appreciation.” So, every day before she goes to school, I place a handwritten card with words of affirmation in her lunch box to encourage her, remind her who she is and build her self-confidence. Although I write her a card daily, I never stopped to think about what she does with the cards after she reads them.

One day, she came home upset about a stack of cards that had somehow gotten wet in her lunch bag pocket. As she tried desperately to dry and save them, I asked her why it was so important for her to keep them. She then shared that her cards served as a ‘pick me upper’, she turns to when she is experiencing doubt and fear or feeling sad or bad. After she shared that, I bought her a huge photo album which she now uses to archive her words of affirmation cards.

While I don’t write positive affirmations and words of encouragement to myself and others as frequently as I do my daughter, I frequently use words of affirmations to encourage myself to push through low moments, remind myself of who I am, what I am trying to do, why I do what I do and to show myself compassion and grace.  But I know my daughter and I are not alone with these struggles. None of us are immune from experiencing doubts, regrets, or disappointment from decisions made, words spoken, actions taken or not.

So, can develop your own affirmations?

How to Write Your Own Affirmations

While not for everyone, positive self-talk or affirmations are used by many to overcome adversity, banish negative thoughts and to empower them to work towards their purpose and goals.  HuffPost offers 5 steps below that you can use to write your affirmations and make them work for you:

  • Step 1:  Make a list of what you’ve always thought of as your negative qualities. Include any criticisms others have made of you that you’ve been holding onto; whether it’s something your siblings, parents and peers used to say about you when you were a child, or what your boss told you in your last annual review.  Make a note of them and look for a common theme, such as “I’m unworthy.” 
  • Step 2: Now write out an affirmation on the positive aspect of your self-judgment. You may want to use a thesaurus to find more powerful words to beef up your statement. For example, instead of saying, “I’m worthy,” you could say, “I’m remarkable and cherished.”
  • Step 3: Speak the affirmation out loud for about five minutes, three times a day — morning, mid-day and evening. An ideal time to do this is when you’re putting on your make up or shaving, so that you can look at yourself in the mirror as you repeat the positive statement. You can look at yourself in the mirror as you repeat the positive statement.
  • Step 4: Anchor the affirmation in your body as you are repeating it by placing your hand on the area that felt uncomfortable when you wrote out the negative belief in step one. Also “breathe” into the affirmation while you are saying or writing it. As you reprogram your mind, you want to move from the concept of the affirmation to a real, positive embodiment of the quality you seek.
  • Step 5: Get a friend or coach to repeat your affirmation to you. As they are saying for example, “you are remarkable and cherished” identify this statement as ‘good mothering or good fathering messages. If you don’t have someone who you feel comfortable asking them to use your reflection in the mirror as the person who is reinforcing the healthy message.

Words of affirmation can be powerful sources of inspiration and positive self-change for the person who repeats or hears them. No one likes to feel unsupported, unappreciated or to have their hard work and efforts go unacknowledged. Positive affirmations provide another technique you can use to reframe negative thoughts, overcome hardships, spread kindness, peace, and love. Our words and actions have the power to make to break someone, to positively shape their lives or turn moods and day around.

So, over to you- how will you affirm yourself and become more intentional about encouraging others?

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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Time for Action: If Not Now- When?

Time to Act

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That:  Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left?

If your first answer to the question is one, you would be wrong. The correct answer is five. You and I know, there is a big difference between deciding to do something and acting on it. Day after day, many of us fail to follow through on crucial decisions and best laid plans and remain on various logs in our personal and professional lives. Deciding to something does not equate to taking the required action. And from time to time, our inability to act undermines our progress and success in important areas of our lives. So are you one of the five frogs sitting on the log?  

If you are struggling to act on your important decisions and plans, you’re not alone. Research suggests that every year, up to 70 percent of people who make new year resolutions in January, lose their resolve by March of that same year. And according to the statistics, “Of those that made a resolution in 2020, 35% kept all their resolutions, 49% kept some of their resolutions, and only 16% failed at keeping any of their resolutions.  So, what is standing in the way of you following through and actively pursuing your goals and dreams?

Common Reasons Why People Fail to Act?

There is no one reason to explain why people fail to act on their decisions. Like the frogs sitting on the log, the reasoning behind an individual’s failure to act, or follow through with their expressed intentions and plans, can be explained by any one or combination of the following factors.

The Law of Diminishing Intent

According to the Law of Diminishing Intent, “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.” For example, if you decided to take vacation and travel this year, but took no action to request the time off or buy your tickets by a certain time, that vacation is less likely to happen. Whether your decision or plan is to travel, go back to school, change careers, or make a big move, when you act is crucial. Nonetheless, many people use waiting for the “right timing” to justify not acting. And before you know it, days turns into a week, weeks into months, months into years and later regrets that they never did what they planned to.

So, is there ever a right time? That is, the perfect set of conditions for you to launch that new business, start that home project, expand the family, write that book, overhaul your finances, or make that lifestyle change to improve your health? Probably not. The last few years of the pandemic forced both individuals and organizations to pivot and adapt as the world as we knew changed. Whether we liked it or not, were ready or not, most of us were forced to learn new skills, adjust to new technologies, processes, and systems.

Many of us had to figure out how to work effectively and productively from home and to conduct business, serve customers, attend church, and school online. And we even had to get creative about keeping connected and celebrating holidays, milestones while socially distancing. If anything, we learned that “time waits for no man” and the true meaning of “carpe diem or “seize the day”.

Fear of Failure

Another reason why people fail to act in the direction of their dreams and goals is the “fear of failure”. At some point or another, we have all had to grapple with the fear of failure and to take big leaps of faith to overcome it. But for some people, the fear of failure is a bigger and potentially crippling emotion. According to the University of Kentucky,  the “ irrational and extreme fear of failing or facing uncertainty is a phobia known as atychiphobia.  And this “irrational fear of failure (caused by a traumatic event or experience)  can make a person doubt one’s abilities and believe that they are not good enough to try new things.

In extreme cases, atychiphobia keeps a person stuck within their comfort zone and prevents them from moving forward in life. Regardless of whether the fear of failure is mild or extreme (phobia), if not managed, it has the potential to prevent you from achieving your personal and professional goals or making progress towards having a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Analysis Paralysis

A third explanation for why people fail to act on the decisions they make is analysis paralysis. This is where you spend a great deal of time thinking about a decision to be made, researching to gather information on your options, weighing the benefits and risks, asking for additional advice to inform your decision and still fail to act. While analysis paralysis might be motivated by a strong desire to make the right choice, the decision making and planning process will yield nothing, if you do nothing. Overthinking a decision does nothing to move you forward. Instead, it can lead to further procrastination, self-doubt, and create the impression of acting but doing nothing at all. 

Perfectionism + Procrastination

Like paralysis analysis, the twin combo of perfectionism and procrastination also prevent people from acting on their goals. According to Healthline, “people with perfectionism hold themselves to impossibly high standards and think what they do is never good enough.” This causes them to procrastinate and delay acting while they try to make every perfect. In so doing, the small imperfect efforts to just get started and the gradual improvements that can be achieved overtime are dismissed or overlooked as not good enough. To avoid procrastination and perfectionism, acknowledge that you might not have all you think you need. Recognize that sometimes all you truly need to get started, is what you have.  Don’t allow doubt (your and others) about your abilities to keep from taking action.

Time for Action

In the final analysis, people make decisions on big and small issues and fail to act on them every day. Decisions mean nothing without action, and acting requires courage and conviction. Since history does not reveal its alternatives, you will never know what your failure to act might cost you in the long run, or what life changing opportunities you gave up as a result.  Sometimes the best opportunities, are hidden beneath the cloak of wrong timing, not being the most qualified and not having all the money or support you need. By taking a leap of faith, you might come to realize how talented, resilient, resourceful, strong and creative you are.

So, back to the frogs on the log in the riddle – what decision or plan have you been sitting on? When will you jump? And if not now, when will you take action to leap toward your goals?

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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Peaks and Valleys: 8 Ways to Make Them Work for You!

Life is a Journey- Color Sign
Life- is- A- Journey-Image

Are you at a peak or in a valley? If you are reading this article, chances are you might be dealing with a difficult season, have just come out of a one or are heading into a challenging period in either your personal or professional life. But in this age of social media, where we are bombarded with images of people living their “best lives” through their highlight reels, it is easy to believe that some people have all the luck, while you are struggling or feeling stuck. Truth is, nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. Life is a every changing journey, filled with peaks and valleys or highs and lows that each of us go through. Since no one gets to go through life without experiencing peaks and valleys, how can we make the most of these peaks and valleys to make them work for us?

The Peaks and Valleys of Life

My latest read Peaks and Valleys  by Spencer Johnson,  answers this question by explaining that- when people know how to make good times and bad times work for them, they worry less and do better. And ultimately, they become easier to live and work with. According to Johnson, peaks and valleys refer to those high and low moments we experience throughout our lives. The peaks typically represent our successes and the moments we celebrate, feel good and content. On the other hand, valleys are seen as times of struggle, anger, disappointments, unhappiness, and failures. But that is not the sum of it. There is still good in the valleys. Valleys also provide opportunities for development and growth and can serve as preparation for climbing the next peak of our lives.

As I read the book, I found the simple yet deep insights of the peaks and valley approach helpful to rethinking my own approach to dealing with personal high and low moments.  So here are my top 8 top takeaways from the book that I hope might be useful to you as you make your personal peaks and valleys work for you:

Photo Showing Peaks and Valleys
Peaks- and -Valleys-_Photo by Temo Berishvili on Pexels.com

How to Deal with Peaks and Valleys

  1. It is natural for everyone everywhere to have peaks and valleys at work and in life: Personal peaks and valleys are as natural as the physical peaks and valleys you see in the landscape all around you. Peaks and valleys are scattered all around us and are connected in similar ways. You can feel “up” in one area of your life (career) and down in another (relationships). We all have ups and downs, and no two people experience similar situation the same way- we are all different.
  1. Peaks and valleys are not just the good and bad times that happen to you. They are also how you feel inside and respond to outside events. How you feel depends on how you view the situations you are faced with. The important thing is to separate what happens to you from how you feel about yourself as a person. Losing your job does not make you a lousy employee, nor does getting a divorce make you a failure. Separate your emotions from the act/event itself. You are still good, worthy, and valuable even if a bad thing happened to you. You can still feel good about yourself even when bad things are happening to you.
  1. Peaks and valleys are connected. The errors you make in today’s good times create tomorrow’s bad times. And the wise things you do in today’s bad times create tomorrow’s good times. There is no sharp difference between where the highest part of the valley ends, or the lowest part of the peak begins. Similarly, our physical and personal peaks and valleys are connected. A lot of what you and I will experience in the future will be determined by the choices we make in the present. This includes choices about how we spend our time and money, whether we invest in ourselves and the right relationships. When we waste our resources, make poor choices, and lose sight of what matters most, we are creating your own future bad times.
  1. Peaks are moments when you appreciate what you have. Valleys are moments when you long for what is missing. How you experience a valley has a lot to do with how you spend your time in it. We are all sometimes guilty of turning our peaks into valleys by what we choose to focus on. When we do not celebrate our small wins and the progress we have made and just focus on what is missing or lacking, we can change our personal peaks into valleys. Negative thinking (See previous post) can create valleys in our own minds even when good things are happening to us, and our goals are being achieved. One way we do this is by comparing ourselves to others and using their situations to determine how well we are doing. If you want to have fewer valleys, avoid comparison. Plus, we do not get to stay in our peaks and valleys forever.  The secret is to truly appreciate and enjoy the time for what is while you are living it.
Love Live EKG -Image
Love- Life- EKG-Image
  1.  You cannot always control external events.  But you can control your personal peaks and valleys by what you believe and what you do.  For you to change a valley into a peak, you must change one of two things: what is happening or how you feel about what is happening. If you can change the situation- great. If you cannot change the situation, change how you feel about it to make it work to your advantage. This is especially important in times when you are faced with hardship and adversity. Always look for the silver lining in the dark clouds and choose hope. Choosing to have a positive mindset usually leads to a better result.
  1. Between peaks there are always valleys. How you manage your valleys determine how soon you reach your next peak. It is easy to feel unhappy and demotivated when you are going through a valley moment. Therefore, it is crucial that you find and use the good that is hidden in a bad moment. Manage your attitude and invest in improving yourself and your skills to help you reach your next peak moment. Afterall, if you do not learn in the valley, you can become bitter. If you truly learn something valuable, you can become better.
  1. A plateau can be a time for you to rest, reflect and renew. Just as peaks bring us high moments and valleys bring us low moments, plateaus provide an opportunity for you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Personal plateaus are just as natural as personal peaks and valleys and can help you pause or press the reset button on your life.  Because plateaus are a neutral zone, they can help you to assess what is happening in your lives and gain clarity about your next move and steps. The trick is not to stay at the plateau too long since nothing happens there.
  1. A great way to get to your next peak is to follow your sensible vision. Imagine yourself enjoying your better future in such specific believable detail that you soon enjoy doing what takes you there.  Here is where you create the image of your future peak (think about your big dream or SMART goal) in your mind. Imagine what your future peak will look, sound, feel and taste like. When you make your future peak clear, meaningful, and sensible to you, it will serve as the pull that gets you through your valley when you encounter challenges in making it a reality. By imagining yourself enjoying the future peak or in that better place, you will start enjoying doing whatever takes you there.

At the end of the day, it is not about trying to avoid the ups and downs of life but learning how to make the best of them. The valley prepares us for the mountain top experiences.  Challenges give us opportunities to grow. Valleys are our reminders to keep showing up. If you do not appreciate your valleys, you will not be able to fully celebrate your peaks. There is a lesson to be learned from all our personal peaks, valleys, and plateaus.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean- Which Would You Rather Be?

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean - Pic Collage
Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean-Which Would You Rather Be- Pic Collage

On my most recent Library run, I came across a small book called The Coffee Bean (A Simple Lesson to Create Positive Change) by Damon West. Curious about the title and cover, I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Surprised by the simple story format and cool illustrations, I borrowed it thinking it would be an interesting and easy read. When I settled down to read it, I completed the Coffee Bean story in an hour because of its simple yet fascinating message on how to overcome adversity and create positive change.

The Coffee Bean Story

The Coffee Bean story uses the powerful analogy of a pot of boiling water and how three objects (a carrot, an egg, and a coffee bean) are changed by the heat and pressure when placed into the pot. Though the carrot goes in hard; it becomes soft from the heat and the pressure of the water. The longer the carrot stays in the boiling water, the more it loses its original form, becoming softer and softer, eventually losing its vibrant color and taste. The egg has a hard outer shell that covers its soft liquid insides, but when placed in the boiling water, the soft liquid inside begins to get hard. And if the egg stays in the water for a long time, it becomes so hard that even the hard outer shell cracks. But when the coffee bean is placed into the pot of boiling water, it transforms the whole environment and water becomes coffee. So, as small as the coffee bean is, it is not changed by its circumstances, it completely changes its environment from the inside out.

Pot of Water Boiling over Wood Fire-Photo
Pot of Water Boiling over Wood Fire

Meaning of Coffee Bean Story

The pot of boiling water represents the hardships, challenges, and adversities that you and I face in life. The carrot, egg and coffee bean represent how we respond and are affected by the various circumstances we face. I do not know what your pot of boiling water might look like, but each of us have or have had a hardship or adversity that we have struggled to overcome or are still facing. Your pot of boiling water might be a divorce or separation, a broken relationship, the loss of a loved one, infertility, illness or disease, financial hardships or the loss of a job that defined you.

When life hits you hard or knocks you down, it is easy to throw in the towel, lose sight of who you are, what you believe and to give up on the dreams you hold dear. But at the same time, we also get to choose our mindset (fixed or growth) the attitudes we display (positive or negative) to help us be resilient and overcome obstacles. So how do you respond when you find yourself in a pot of boiling water? Are you the carrot, the egg, or the coffee bean?

When I think about my own life experiences (personally and professionally), I am sometimes guilty of allowing the harshness of certain situations to change how I behave and treat others. I can think of painful life experiences that have weakened me like the carrot, reduced me to tears and left me questioning why me? In other moments, the pot of boiling water I was thrown in hardened me like an egg who became resentful of those who hurt me and even struggling to forgive. Nonetheless, adversity has made me stronger and pushed me to be more resilient(See previous post) and better. So, as a coffee bean, I have also been able to take some of my boiling pot of water moments and transform them into coffee. And in so doing, I have overcame many hardships to have a positive impact on the people and organizations I come into contact with.

Hardships and adversity challenge us and can test our determination and commitment to what we value and believe is important. But we should never allow the circumstances of life to change us (make us bitter) or cause us to act outside of our true nature and what we believe to be wrong or right. We can choose to be a coffee bean by never losing sight of who we are, the power and strength within us and our ability to change our conditions (however difficult).

Whole Coffee Beans Falling-Image
Whole Coffee Beans Falling -Image

Life Applications: Five Rules of Being a Coffee Bean

The main message of the book is that, like the coffee bean, each of us have the potential to change the environments in which we operate or be changed by them. So here are five rules from the Damon West that you can use to become a coffee bean:

1.Get up every day and work out every day:  Here the workout is not just physical, it includes spiritually and mentally.  To get and stay in shape spiritually, West recommends you have a conversation with God and ask the following questions- How did I do today? Was I a good person? Who do I need to apologize to or forgive? For the mental workout, he reminds us that we are what we eat, so pay attention to the kind of books you read, the websites you visit, shows you watch, and the kinds of music you listen to. And for the physical, be sure to exercise, get rest, and pay attention to your nutrition.

2. Serve others:  When we lend a helping hand to others without expecting to receive, we are also helping ourselves. None of us got to where we are without the help and kindness of others. So volunteer, mentor, pay it forward and actively seek ways to bless and encourage others.

3.Remember You Only Control 4 Things:  Some of us like to believe we have more control over our lives than we do. But according to the author (And I agree) the only four things we control are in our minds. This is- what you think, what you say, what you feel and what you do. Outside of that, we control nothing.  So, focus on the things you can control and other people will notice your example and you will be able to make a positive impact on the environment around you.

4.Your past does not define you. Your past is your lesson and not a determinant of your future. We should try to learn from our past but do not dwell there. Your losses and mistakes do not define you. Your present is a gift, and your future should serve as a motivation for you to become the best version of yourself each day. So ask yourself if/how the choices you make today will impact your future self.

5. Energy is about body language– Your energy and body language are what people see before you open your mouth. Pay attention to how you walk, your facial expressions, your tone of voice- we are always communicating. Your energy is contagious and can impact people positively or negatively, so ensure that you are spreading something good. And always remember to smile.

When all is said and done, we will all find ourselves in our own pot of boiling water. No one wants to be the soft and weakened carrot, nor the mad and miserable egg. All of us must strive to be the coffee bean that says, no matter how much heat and pressure I face, I will not allow my circumstances to change me. Instead, I will change and improve my environment and get stronger in the process. So, imagine your most difficult life situation and ask yourself how I can be a coffee bean?

Until next time, Remember, #ItsALearningLife!

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How to Set SMART Goals & Make Dreams Happen!

SMART  Acronym-Image
SMART Acronym

A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

Unknown

Did you know that 1/3 of new year resolutions do not make it beyond January, let alone the middle of year? Even with the best of intentions to improve health, finances, make career moves, year after year, many people abandon their goals and plans by the end of February. There are many reasons to explain why some people fail to stick with their goals and execute their plans for personal and professional success. But perhaps the first and most important reason is that, they were not clear about their goals, the why behind them, what would be involved and the difference it would make if they achieved them. So, they put off their goals for another year or time and sometimes never get back to them.  Another reason for abandoned goals and plans is that some people get overwhelmed by the challenges of juggling competing priorities, managing their resources, or struggling to distinguish between the urgent and important. And others simply find it difficult to think long term and plan for their future.

So why is this problematic?

In my last post, I talked about the importance of effective time management and life management as keys to help us live meaningful and successful lives. And I know that some people see setting goals as a waste of time since we cannot control every aspect of our lives. But even though it is possible to achieve some of our objectives without setting SMART goals, the process will be a lot harder and longer than it needs to be. People who fail to set clear goals and plans are more likely to miss out on life changing opportunities, be disorganized, stressed, frustrated, and experience a lack of progress in both their personal and professional lives. If you are feeling stuck with where you are compared to where you hoped to be or find yourself wondering why others are crushing their goals while yours are crushing you, setting smarter goals might help you move forward.

How to Set SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym used to explain a simple and effective approach to goal setting for your personal life and professional career. For me, setting SMART goals has been the game changer that has helped me navigate life ups and downs and stay focused on achieving my long- and short-term objectives. Whether it was the dream of travelling and seeing the world, migrating to the USA, homeownership, finances, education, professional growth, overall well-being, to all the things that fit into my “big picture” for my life, setting SMART goals have been crucial.

The setting SMART goals approach advocates that you make every goal you set for yourself –specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound as described below:

  • Specific: Here the focus is to ensure that your goal is clear and practical and answers questions such as what, why, who and where. For example, saying you want to visit Europe would be a vague goal since it fails to provide clarity to those key questions. To make your travel goal to Europe more concrete, you would need to need to pinpoint the exact city or cities in Europe that you plan to visit. In my case, I planned and executed a wonderful trip to London and Paris for my 40th birthday celebrations in 2019. While I have always loved travelling and have been fascinated with travelling to Europe since my early teenager years (when I spent too much time reading romance novels), I could not visit all the places I wanted to on that trip. So, I did my research and narrowed my birthday trip to two cities (London and Paris) for 12 days.
  • Measurable: This is where you have to give careful thought and attention to assessing your progress in meeting that meaningful goal. After I decided on London and Paris, I then had to set clear deadlines for when I would book my flight, plan my accommodations and transportation for moving between the two countries (and getting around each city), develop an itinerary for activities since I was travelling by myself and set a budget for how much money I would need for the trip. As a single mom, I also had to think about childcare arrangements for my daughter during my absence as well as appropriate coverage for my work team while I was away on leave. To keep focused and track the progress I was making, I also had to pay attention to documents I needed to have when the important  activities were finalized (confirmed reservations and tickets etc.)
  • Achievable: Biting off more than you can chew is the easiest and surest way to sabotage a goal. Always be careful to consider whether your goal is realistic and achievable or if the time is right. While I wanted to see more the two cities, time and money were huge determinants of where I went and the duration of the trip. Planning to do more than those two cities could have become burdensome and easily sabotaged my ability to achieve my goal. So I planned that next time around, my goal is to take my daughter along with me and spend up to three weeks touring Italy and Spain. And again, that trip will also require SMART goal planning.
  •  Relevant: Does the goal really matter? Is your goal aligned to your plan for your life? These are questions you will need to ask yourself when setting SMART goals. If the goal is important to you, you are more likely to stick with it. I decided to go to Europe for my 40th birthday one year before the actual trip. I shared the idea with a few friends and family members and invited them to join me. As the deadline for booking flights came, the two persons who had said they would join me declined because the timing no longer worked for them. I was forced to consider if I would postpone the trip or go alone. I decided to go alone as my milestone birthday was too important to me and for me to not do it.
  • Timebound: As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Your SMART goal needs a target date. Give your goals a better chance for success by coming up with realistic timelines. I came up with the 12-day visit by looking at the places I wanted to visit in London, and the sights I wanted to see in Paris. I also had to build in travel time between the two countries and down time so that I would not feel stressed on the trip. Planning a clear itinerary helped me to relax and put things in place to make my trip enjoyable.

By using the SMART approach to setting this goal, my birthday found me waking up in Paris, spending the morning taking selfies with Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum, touring The Eiffel Tower just before lunch and dining on the Seine River with a four-course meal while being serenaded by my French waiter and other passengers on the cruise. My trip was all I hoped it would be and more and I returned home safely.

Over to you, what is one goal that you have been stalling on or have abandoned? Now is the time for you to revisit that goal or think of a new one and seize the day to action it. If you can see it, you can achieve. Give the SMART goal setting approach a try and get ready to celebrate your next achievement.

Until next time, Remember, It’s A Learning Life!

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