“I love my life. I regret my life. The lines eventually blur and… it’s just my life.” — Tobi Powell, played by Patrick Stewart in the movie Match (2014)
We live in the gray, and that should be ok. The idea that our life will be perfect is a fantasy and something we shouldn’t envy from the movies or social media. The notion that we should live every moment with no regrets would probably lead us to a place in life with no retirement savings, and a kid in every state!
To be honest, the feeling of being stuck in life is actually from not planning and a fear of failing. The truth is that to make the gray, it requires both light and dark. The dark comes from our failures, our losses, our depressions. The dark is ok… so long as you don’t dwell on it too long. Much like how Calvin’s dad, from the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes, teaches his son, “it’ll build character.” Use that dark as a motivator and reminder of a place you don’t want to be.
The light are the successes and achievements in life. Together, it makes the gray and that makes you interesting.
Ok, so what do we do about this? How do we embrace the failures and strive for something more? I’m about to go green (i.e. a very practical step-by-step guide) so if you’re a big picture person, just bear with me and try this.
The key is to keep it all simple yet very thoughtful. I’ve made my own PLAN-SCHEDULE-EXECUTE tool on how to do this, so go download it for free here.
Step 1 — Establish 4 clear goals for the year (Tab 1 of my free download). If it’s already halfway through the year, establish 2 goals then. Your goals should be a combination of:
- Skill-building — Such as learning to play a guitar, taking tennis lessons, or computer programming.
- Adventuring or unique experiences — Such as going to Europe for a week, or doing a hike in a national park.
- Producing an accomplishment — Such as starting your own podcast, writing a book, or getting that 6-pack you always wanted.
Then divide out how you’ll do those 4 goals throughout the 52 weeks in a year. We can probably assume Thanksgiving and Christmas weekend are busy so we’ll block those out. That leaves 50 weeks to spread out the 4 goals above. If one of your goals is a trip somewhere, set aside a weekend or two to plan the trip, and block out the actual week of the trip. If a goal is to build a skill, then set aside several weekends to focus on that. If the goal is to start writing a book, then aside several weekends for that.
After you’ve got a good game plan for the year, simply refer to it as often as you’d like. Of course unexpected events will happen so allow yourself to make adjustments! Take the time to grade yourself afterwards too. Highlight that week on the spreadsheet and color it green if you did what you said, or red if you utterly failed and did a Netflix binge.
Step 2— Now that you have each week of the year loosely planned out, take a step further by planning out your week. I know, this might seem too detailed and intense, but this is where we make the conscious decision to do what we say and hold ourselves accountable. The key here is to be realistic. You may not be able to work on your stated goal every day of the week nor sustain that pace. So, build in a few nights of relaxation and hanging out.
Bonus Step— We just did BIG planning by accomplishing 4 goals in a year. Then we dissected that year into weekly bite-sized chunks, and even down to the day. Now, let’s go back and think even BIGGER. I read a great article by Jon Westenberg called How To Invest In Yourself. In it, he outlines a method to accomplish 100 things in your life by doing 4 of them a year. Sound familiar? Well, if you do both my suggestions and his, you’ll be in full control of your life and holding yourself accountable to them.
Finally, the quote above also delivers perhaps the most important concept to have a happy life — acceptance. Can you accept where you are in life? Can you accept the decisions you’ve made has led to where you are? Can you accept your emotional reactions? I’ve dive deeper into this concept on future posts. Until then, hope this guide treats you well and you enjoy my free tool!