I Want to Live a Damn Good Life

If you’re like me, you have a bucket list for everything — one for career goals, one for restaurants to try, one for places to travel to, and even one for life ambitions. My bucket-lists are growing constantly. I’ll meet someone new and hear about some amazing thing he or she is doing and decide, “Woah, I want to do that!”.

Whether your bucket list is in your head or written down, we all have things we want to achieve in life.

In the past, these lists used to get me flustered. I would see a long whirlwind of things I wanted to accomplish, but I was never making any traction.

I was getting caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of life, focusing on the short-term outcomes instead of my dreams.

Constantly I thought, how in the hell am I supposed to do ALL this when there are only 24 hours in a day?

Well, as a college professor of mine once said, “24 hours a day is all you got. It’s all anyone gets. It’s up to you what you do with them.”

My professor taught me the importance of this statement and changed the way I think about and use my 24 hours through the simple act of writing yearly goals.

Now I am not talking about New Year’s resolutions. Most New Year’s resolutions are open ended and unquantifiable. For example, “I’m going to get in shape.” or “I’m going to spend more time with my family.”. But, what does “in shape” really mean and how much time is “more time”? According to US News, 80% of New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by February.

So, how is my version different?

My yearly goals are written, measureable, realistically attainable objectives for which I formulate certain actions to ensure success.

Here’s how I do it:

Step 1: Every year, starting the first week of December, I begin a process of self-reflection. Throughout the month, I dedicate time to evaluate my successes and failures of that year and to determine goals for the next within various facets I value in my life. This year, the hierarchical buckets I am focusing on are health and wellness, career, extracurricular passions, and relationships.

Step 2: Within each of these buckets, I have formulated realistically attainable, but measurable goals, some of which include: meditating at least 2 times per week, reading the news for at least 15 minutes a day, traveling to 2 new countries, and reaching out to 1 individual in my network every week.

Step 3: To achieve them, I have devised a variety of creative tactics to ensure success. For example, I signed up for an app, Headspace, which has 10-minute meditating sessions and provides reminder notifications to me on the daily. I added weekly recurring alarms on my phone as a reminder to sync up with someone in my network. I signed up for Flipboard, a website to receive news from various outlets at once and made the website to be my home browser so it is the first thing I see when I get on the internet. But, I’m not perfect.

So I need Step 4: If I don’t remind myself of my priorities, I know I’ll forget. Since, like many, I live by my calendar, I have scheduled quarterly calendar check-ins to remind myself of my targets and adjust any previously set goals if necessary.

Some years, I succeed 100%, other years, I don’t. But for me, setting goals is not about the success rate. It is about utilizing my time and energy to focus on things that matter. It has made me accountable to take actions on all that I say I want to do in life instead of just dreaming and talking about it. And, the satisfaction I receive once a goal is achieved has given me motivation to do more.

Think about this.

When you’re retired, sitting on your porch with a glass of wine, reflecting about life, is your first thought going to be…

“I wish I would have…”

Or, is it going to be “Damn, I lived a good life.”.

I don’t know about you, but I choose “Damn, I lived a good life.”.

This is why I set goals — to remind myself to aim my short-term actions towards my version of life’s bigger picture.

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