Tag Archives: Aspirations

Goals, Goals, Everywhere Goals: Aiming for a Bigger Life

“The moment you put a deadline on your dream, it becomes a goal.” –Harsha Bhogle, The Winning Way 

Hello friend,

I have never been much of a goal-setter. Don’t get me wrong; I have always been a dreamer and driven to do great things in my life. I have taken risks and made sacrifices in my attempt to leave my mark on the world. But I have done all that without setting many specific goals. I can’t say why exactly. It just didn’t feel like me. Maybe it’s because I don’t like to feel contained, and goals can sometimes feel like fences to me. I have typically preferred to trust my intuition on how much of something I need, where I need to push, and where to pull back.

But in the last few years, as I have continued to examine my life in my journal and in these letters to you, I have had this creeping sense of disappointment and regret as it has become increasingly clear that I have failed to live up to all of those dreams and ambitions. Eventually, I was bound to ask myself why, and I have been slowly allowing those questions in. I wondered if maybe it was because I haven’t pushed myself hard enough and consistently enough to make the big strides I imagine myself capable of. But why? After all, I had the dreams. I had the drive. I began to wonder if maybe I just didn’t have the right plan. Maybe I needed a new method.

Enter Oola.

A couple of months ago, my sister, who is into self-help/personal growth books and always has her eyes open for things that can help her and her business grow, treated me to a new book that she had been raving about. It was called Oola: Find Balance In An Unbalanced World. In it, the authors, Dave Braun and Troy Amdahl, write about the importance of living in a way that is balanced and growing in all the major areas of life, what they call “The Seven F’s of Oola”: Fitness, Finance, Family, Field (career), Faith, Friends, and Fun. In my old Life Coaching classes, this resembled what is commonly referred to as “The Wheel of Life”.

I am always on the lookout for tips on doing LIFE better, so I plowed through the meat of the book, taken in by the stories of these two guys and how the seven aspects played out in their lives. I knew they grew up in my neck of the woods and were of a similar age, so I also wanted to glean some insight into how they became successful and which tips I might borrow for my own life.

A couple of weeks ago, as I approached the very last section of the book, I was thinking I wasn’t getting much that was soul-stirring or deeply inspirational out of it. I was eager to be done with it, hoping to find something a bit more life-changing from my next read.

But in those last pages was a challenge that would change the entire experience for me. Well, at least I hope it will.

Whenever someone tells me they read my weekly letters or that they read my book, I always want to know if they do more than read it. Do they write their own journal entry about the questions raised? Do they engage someone in a conversation about it? Do they at least take some time to ponder the issue and how it intersects with their own life? I tend to think that the only way to get anything out of my writing is to truly engage with it: to ponder, to discuss, and hopefully to write about it. I definitely hope that my words will be more than just read. Speaking as the sensitive author, I don’t feel like my work can be fairly judged unless you have done the deep diving.

So there I was, beginning to judge the Oola book, when it turned the tables on me. It asked of me what I ask of my readers: to get out my pen and dive deep into the way these “Seven F’s” could change my life. The only catch: I had to set goals. And not just a few, but twenty-one: three for each of the seven areas on the Oola Wheel.

What a predicament! Of course, the idea of setting twenty-one goals–specific, measurable type of goals–was immediately off-putting to my personality, so I was inclined to reject the challenge outright. But. (Oh, the BUT!) But it seemed like my integrity was on the line. How could I defend my own writing’s quality from people who didn’t fully engage it if I wasn’t willing to fully engage this book? That wouldn’t be right. And the other, bigger BUT. But how can I keep rejecting goal-setting if my usual, comfortable method of just going with my gut hasn’t gotten me where I want to be in life?

The writing was on the wall. It was time to get out of my comfort zone. And so it came to pass that I took my pretty-but-somewhat-blurry dreams and gave them some definition, some real numbers, some deadlines.

I made goals. Twenty-one of them. Here they are:

FITNESS

  1. Get my weight to 203 by December 31, 2018. (That is somewhere from 5-7 stubborn pounds to lose.)
  2. Do a full yoga practice at least once per week.
  3. Add rowing to at least one cardio workout every week.

FINANCE

  1. Make more money than we spend each month.
  2. Get a higher paying job with benefits.
  3. Put $250 into a vacation fund every month.

FAMILY

  1. Have one Family Game Night/Family Movie Night per week.
  2. Have one devoted couple activity (game, TV show, whatever) per week.
  3. Take the epic Montana Road Trip by the end of 2020.

FIELD

  1. Get a “real job” involving writing as soon as possible.
  2. Spend time every week writing my next book.
  3. Join my wife full-time in her new business by January 1, 2020.

FAITH

  1. Meditate 15 minutes per day.
  2. Take a weekly nature walk practicing mindfulness and gratitude.
  3. Develop a nightly gratitude “prayer” or practice.

FRIENDS

  1. Connect with Johnny in person at least once every two months.
  2. Engage one new person in conversation each week.
  3. Re-connect with one different old friend by letter or phone call each month.

FUN

  1. Become a regular tennis player again–once a week–in the warmer seasons.
  2. Write my second book–spend devoted time every week.
  3. Practice the guitar at least three times per week for at least 15 minutes.

Of these twenty-one, the Oola guys recommend that while you can keep all of them and work toward them, it is helpful to pull out your top seven that would make the biggest impact on your life right now (it doesn’t have to be one from each area). I chose these seven:

  1. Make more money than we spend every month.
  2. Get a “real job” involving writing as soon as possible. (I also chose this as my “OolaOne”, the single thing that would make the biggest immediate impact.).
  3. Meditate 15 minutes per day.
  4. Write my second book, devoting time every week.
  5. Practice my guitar at least three times per week, at least 15 minutes each.
  6. Have one devoted couple activity each week.
  7. Re-connect with one different old friend by letter or phone each month.

There they are! It was a grind for me, I fully admit, but even my fluid mind is sitting here appreciating how concrete they all look in their tidy lists with all the details included. It definitely helped to use the popular goal-setting method called S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, Time-based), as that kept me from being vague and slippery. These definitely feel more like the opening quote: like dreams with deadlines. Goals.

Having just finished the exercise, I can tell that all of the specifics are very new to me and my usual processing. My inner world is trembling a bit, no doubt. My cheese has been moved. But I can also see how this will be really, really good for me. That is, it will be really good if I follow this up with the appropriate action steps, like daily To-Do Lists filled with items that work directly toward those goals. I am excited, both to start achieving these goals and just to see my world through a new set of lenses. I think I needed it. No, I’m sure I did. Now that I have some goals, I am charged up and ready for action. I’m off to get my Oola on!

How about you? How do you do with goal-setting in your life? Open up your journal and examine the role of goals in your world. Do you have specific goals in your life right now? What are they? Are they far away things–like an advanced degree or retirement–or something you will accomplish within the next year? How aware of your goals are you on a day-to-day basis? Do you use them to guide your behavior on a normal day, or are they just something you check in with once in a while to see if life is generally heading in the right direction? How specific and measurable do you get in your goal-setting? Do you have exact dates and numbers in mind so you can be certain as to when the goals are reached? Do you have someone in your life who holds you accountable for your goals, or do you count on your own discipline to get you there? Would an accountability partner help? How realistic are your goals? Do you have a strong chance of reaching them? Do you gain confidence when you reach a goal, no matter how small? Whether or not you currently have goals or are aware of how balanced and growing your life is, does the concept of setting multiple goals in each area of your life appeal to you? Have you ever done something like this? So, go ahead. What are three goals you can make for yourself in each of the seven areas: health & fitness, money, family, career, faith/spirituality, friends, and hobbies/fun? In which area are goals easiest for you to make? In which area are you most likely to achieve your stated goals? In which area are you most likely to fail? Is systematic goal-setting foreign to you? How does it feel now doing it? Does it make you more eager to make a plan to achieve them? If you had to choose one goal to pursue that would make the biggest impact on your life right now, which one would it be? Are you willing to commit to that? What small steps can you take today to move in that direction? Leave me a reply and let me know: Which goals can you set to move yourself in the direction of your best life?

Go get it,

William

P.S. If this resonated with you today, please share it on social media. Let’s go after our dreams together!

P.S.S. My new book, Journal of YOU: Uncovering the Beauty That Is Your Truth, is available in paperback and ebook formats from many retailers. To get yours on Amazon, go to http://www.amazon.com/author/williamrutten Thank you for your support!

A New Year’s Question: How Do You Want to FEEL This Year?

DSC_0784“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” –Henry David Thoreau

Hello friend,

Happy New Year! Here we are again. Every year around this time, the millions and millions of people who have set resolutions for the coming year begin their quests to live better. They are going to the gym, quitting sugar or alcohol, looking for a new job, going back to school, reaching out to old friends, starting a journal (right???), or just being more patient. Whatever it is, people are starting something or quitting something in the name of improving themselves and being happier. That is definitely something I can get behind!

So, what about me? What is my big resolution? I am terrible at this! I really am. I have never really made resolutions. The last few years, though, have found me very contemplative around the holidays and looking ahead to the vast potential of the coming calendar cycle. It has been a fertile period for my mind to stew about what needs to be added to my life, how I need to get better, and what habits I need to develop to make my dreams come true. I want to advance the cause, after all, and what better time to check-in and refocus than the start of a new year?

I have come around to the practice of allowing my thoughts about this to radiate around one basic question: How do I want to FEEL this year? I think that for most people, the process of resolution-making at New Year’s begins with thoughts like “What do I want to DO this year?” or “What do I want to STOP DOING this year?” I can see how those thoughts could be effective for the majority of people, but I have found over the years that, as with most things, I don’t seem to fit in with the majority on this one.

When I base my thoughts around the DO THIS or DON”T DO THAT resolutions, they just don’t grow roots in my heart and soul. They don’t resonate. They feel like orders to me, and anyone who knows me knows that I don’t take orders very well! I cannot be put in a box. When I focus on how I want to feel, though, it allows me a range of DOs and DON’Ts that I can flow betwixt and between throughout the year, changing course as my intuition directs me toward the feelings I have deemed most desirable. It also keeps pushing me until the year ends, because as I complete one goal, the feeling I want still demands to be felt. Thus, I must press on to the next thing that will conjure the feeling. It is the right mix of demanding yet still flexible that suits my personality.

So, what do I want to feel this year? Well, the easiest answer for me every year is fit and healthy. I would like to heal up some injuries still lingering from last year and free my body to do all of the activities that free my soul. For the first time ever, feeling fit and healthy this year is also going to include a weight loss component. Although I have some initial plans for how that is going to work involving nutrition and different exercises, I will be open to the ways my body reacts. If I follow the feeling, it will keep me on the right track. The healthy feeling will be an easy one for me to chase and stay honest about.

The other feeling that has been pressing on my mind as I enter the New Year has proven to be tougher to pin down. The part that is clear is its source. Over the past several months, I have been feeling increasingly pent-up regarding my progress toward the life of my dreams. I have not been making it happen, and that drives me nuts. More and more nuts every day. I am trying to be realistic. I don’t expect all of my wildest dreams to come true this year. But I need to know I am taking real, measurable steps toward those dreams. I cannot be stalled. That part, I have found, is key for me. It is not enough to hit one of my goals and then stop for a while to revel in it. That is how I get the pent-up feeling that currently courses through my veins. The drumbeat of my soul’s calling never stops, so I must never stop marching to it.

What is the name of this feeling that I want to keep feeling, though? What do I call this thing that I want my goals and plans to revolve around? Bear with me here, because I know that writing myself through it will help me find clarity (which is exactly why I journal every day).

I want to feel like I am really advancing my dreams, making big progress toward the big rocks that I want/need to move to find any career peace and satisfaction. I want to end this uncertainty about whether I can succeed in making a living doing the things that I love. I know what I want my career to look like; I just have to make the vision a reality. So, there is a lot of doing to do. The excuse-making and procrastination have to be shut down hard. I must make those tangible steps. Things like getting coaching clients, writing jobs, getting through volumes of The Journal Project, and compiling a list of posts for a potential book based on Journal of You.

Okay, so is accomplishment a feeling? Maybe that’s it. I’m just dying to be doing my thing more often and reaching people. I want to feel like I am making a difference. Yes, now that strikes a chord in me! I want to feel like I am making a difference. I want to be making a positive impact on lots of people. Right now, I am not, and that is very discouraging. I want to get in the action! I’m pent-up. I need to get engaged. That would make me feel useful and effective. That would release some of this tension that I’ve been carrying around for too long. It would be a big weight off my shoulders. I would LOVE that! So, maybe that’s it. Maybe, in the end, what I really want to feel this year is relieved.   I want the relief of setting down my burden, a burden that amounts to not living my dream and not living up to my potential. If I could feel the relief of setting that burden down, it would be a wonderful year, indeed!

How about you? What is the feeling that would make this the best year for you? Open up your journal and think about your goals, dreams, plans, hopes, and resolutions for the coming year. Write them all down. Now think about the ways each of these achievements would make you feel. What are the feelings that come up inside you? How much do they change depending upon the plans or resolutions that you are thinking about? Do your biggest dreams elicit completely different emotions than your standard resolutions or plans? Is there anything you want to feel in the coming year that has not been stirred by your current goals and resolutions? Why do you think your plans have left that important feeling out? Is it something you feel to be unworthy of or too much to ask for? What do you think of my method of starting with my desired feelings and setting my plans and goals from there? Would it work for you, too? Do you make New Year’s resolutions every year? Why do you think you do or don’t? Do you make them often at other times of the year as well? How good are you at sticking to your resolutions or goals? Which types of resolutions do you have a good record with? Which type do you bail out of or fail at quickly? What is it about the goals themselves that make you more or less likely to succeed? Is it the feelings they will generate? What is the most important thing you plan to do this year? Leave me a reply and let me know: What will it feel like to live your best year? 

Your life is now,

William

P.S. If this made you consider your journey through Life in a different way, please share it with someone you know.

The Birthday Question: Am I Any Closer To My Dreams This Year?

DSC_1153“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.–H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Hello friend,

It’s my birthday weekend! In the midst of celebrating with my family and the accompanying sugar coma, my birthday tends to be a contemplative time, too. I think a lot about how my life is going, highlights and lowlights from the previous year, and what more I want to do before my time on Earth runs out. One thing I never really wonder about anymore is how happy I am. I haven’t had to question that in many years. I am aware of it, of course, because of my daily journaling, but it’s pretty clear to me that my happiness runs deep. With that question not weighing on my mind, I have found myself this weekend pondering a different idea. The issue I really want to settle up with myself on is this: With all of my passion and my blog posts about getting people to identify their dreams and take steps to live them, have I moved any closer to my OWN dreams since my last birthday?

Hmmm…that’s a tough one. Well, maybe it’s not so tough to figure out, but it is almost certainly going to be tough to accept the truth of the answer. On first blush, I would say that I haven’t moved anywhere, that my dreams are just as far away on this birthday as they were on my last. After all, I am still not making any money as a writer. Or as a speaker. Or as a coach. Okay, this exercise is already depressing me! It can’t be as bad as it looks on the surface. Or can it? I actually feel better about where I’m headed than what the surface says, so there must be something to be found with a deeper look.

Because I need to hear some good news after that dreary peek at the surface, I am going to start with the positives. First and foremost, my passion for my kids and to be the best father I can be is going quite well. I am working completely around their schedules, and we are getting tons of quality time. That is my biggest win by far. I’ll take it! That one is sort of in a separate category, though, different—but should it be???—from my career aspirations and the other drumbeats of my soul. So, I am claiming it as a definite positive but keeping it in its own discussion for now.

How about the rest of those hopes and dreams? Well, at my last birthday, I was early in my first class in my new pursuit: Life Coaching. How has that venture progressed? On the positive side, I worked very hard for several months, learned a lot, and greatly improved my coaching. And I loved the work and the difference it made in people’s lives. Yeah! On the downside, as Summer approached and Life got busier than I wanted it to, instead of doing my usual routine of trying to do everything but not having enough time to do anything well, I actually made the conscious decision to put my training and business start-up on the back burner while other things took center stage. Even though I know what my next class choice is—I even bought the textbook already—I haven’t felt free enough to pull the trigger on enrolling yet. So, on the Coaching front, I am mostly giving myself a failing grade because of the way I am currently stalled. It is disappointing.

I guess that when trying to determine how well I have done in a year in my big dream areas—my big rocks–it takes a multi-dimensional perspective. It is not just about where I am in relation to the goal. I must also take into consideration which direction I am heading and how much momentum I have going that direction. With the Life Coaching, for example, I actually made a lot of progress from where I was a year ago, but right now I don’t feel so good about it because I am essentially stalled out, carrying no momentum in the direction of my goal.

How about my big dream: writing? Well, one thing that is conclusively positive is that I have worked consistently hard at getting these letters out to you each week, building up the library of posts nearer to the level of potentially creating a book out of them one day. I quite like some of them, and I definitely feel like Journal of You is going in the right direction. Yeah!

My other major writing project—what I call “TJP”, short for The Journal Project—is a different story altogether. This labor or love has sat dormant for much of the year due to time constraints, which truly pains my heart on a daily basis. I am miles and miles from my goal. That stinks! On the other hand, I have been more diligent about it in recent weeks and am ever more determined that it is a worthwhile endeavor. So, while the position is terrible, the direction and momentum are trending positive, which somehow makes me feel pretty good about it. (As it turns out, I find that the direction/momentum thing holds more sway over my attitude than does my actual proximity to the goal. I could be right near the goal, but if I am not feeling myself going passionately that way at the moment, I don’t feel good about my situation. But even if I am only at the beginning of a long haul—and TJP is a very long haul—if I am rolling and believing, I am loving that situation.)

I have tried so hard to be single-minded on these priorities and not allow for distractions and laziness to creep in. My dreams don’t suffer those well at all. Time is of the essence, and I hate when I am not on task. However, somehow a wildcard entered my life this year and threw everything for a loop, stealing time and energy from the other big rocks that I have mentioned (it reminds me of the old Allen Saunders quote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.). My skincare business seemed to just fall into my lap, and I have been wrestling with it ever since. On the one hand, I am resentful of it for stealing that time and energy from my more obvious dreams. On the other hand, I can’t help but see that it has the potential to return all of that time and energy—not to mention income and fulfillment—back to me in the future. So, it is a tough one for me, as I am not at all a compromiser and hate to see my other priorities get sacrificed in the least. And where am I with this one anyway? Well, it was not at all in my life on my last birthday, so by default you could say I am way far into it and doing well. In reality, I have a long ways to go before I feel I am doing well with it. And while I am headed in the right direction, momentum is tough to come by. The jury is out.

So, am I closer to my dreams here on my 43rd birthday than I was on my 42nd, or am I just a year closer to the grave? Maybe some of each. On the Life Coaching front, I am actually closer but am feeling further away. On my writing, I am closer, but not nearly as close as I hoped I would be. Depending upon one’s perspective, my glass could easily appear either half-full or half-empty. The results of my wildcard may determine to a great degree which view is correct, but I am going to go with the positive side anyway. Though the big results are not there yet, it has never been more clear to me that I am working on things that speak to my soul and are going to be of service to others. That means the world to me. And even though I feel the frustration and deep disappointment of leaving important pursuits out of my schedule, I am comforted by the fact that the tasks battling for my time and attention are things that I love to do. So, yes, maybe I am a little bit closer to my dreams on this birthday. I will just keep following my heart, one grinding step at a time. Surely my dreams will materialize along the way if I just keep going. Right???

How about you? How much closer have you moved toward your hopes and dreams in the past year? Open up your journal and give yourself a little Year in Review. Relative to your biggest dreams and the life you have imagined, where were you one year ago? Were you only beginning to consider your dreams, or were you already living the dream? What has happened since? Have you taken any bold steps or a giant leap of faith, or have yours been baby steps? Have you taken steps backward? Toward which dream have your biggest strides been made? How many different “big dream” categories do you have? Does it make any sense in this crazy-busy world of ours to have more than one thing that you are really passionate about and want to give your time and energy to? How willing are you to put one of your dreams on the back burner to pursue the others? How long are you able to neglect one of your big dreams before it starts to affect you, before you start feeling guilty or antsy or depressed? In relation to your big dreams, where do you think you will be next year compared to where you are now? A lot closer? A little? “Further away” is NOT one of your choices! Dreams give us hope. The pursuit of our dreams gives us life. It is my deepest hope that you are in hot pursuit of yours. Are you? Leave me a reply and let me know: Have you closed the gap on your dreams this year?

Don’t ever stop,

William

P.S. If this post resonates with you, I would greatly appreciate it if you would share it with your family and friends via social media or old-fashioned word-of-mouth. My hope is to positively impact as many people as possible every week, and I need your help to do that. Thanks in advance for your support.