life transitions

TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE

It is important to have goals because they are good for your physical and mental health. You can have goals for all areas of your life. Here are a few ideas:

Career    Learning

Clubs    Money

Community    Politics

Contribution    Professional

Emotional    Reading

Family    Relationships

Health    Service

Home    Spiritual

Interests    Travel

What Makes an Effective Goal?

Not all goals are motivating. If a goal is too vague, hard to measure, or impossible to achieve, it will lack effectiveness and ultimately be a wasted exercise. Goal statements should be:

•    Stated with action verbs

•    Specific

•    Measurable

•    Challenging

•    Written down, with completion dates

Effective goals have all five ingredients.

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule (also known as Pareto’s Principle) says that 20% of what we do produces 80% of the results. Here are a few examples:

•    20% of the area in your house requires 80% of the cleaning.

•    20% of the stocks in an investor’s portfolio produce 80% of the results.

•    20% of the kids in a class cause 80% of the problems.

•    20% of the books in a bookstore account for 80% of the sales.

You can probably think of a few examples of your own. Note them here:

It’s important to remind yourself not to get bogged down on low-value activities, but to stay focused on the high-value 20%.

High-Payoff Planning

High-payoff (HIPO) time is the 20% that produces the desired results. Low-payoff (LOPO) time is the 80% that produces only 20% of the results. The challenge is to find the HIPO tasks and work on those first.

The HIPO strategies:

•    Setting a deadline increases the chances that you will accomplish a task.

•    Setting a specific time to do something increases the chances that you will accomplish it.

•    Divide and conquer: Break a task into smaller pieces and it becomes easier to complete.

•    Motivate yourself by listing the benefits of completing a task.

•    Motivate yourself in another way by rewarding yourself for completing a task.

The LOPO strategies:

•    Don’t do it at all.

•    Do it later.

•    Do it with minimum time investment or at a lower standard.

Think of your own life. Can you identify five high-payoff and five low-payoff targets and the activities that contribute directly to each?

Identifying and writing down these items increases the chances that they will be accomplished.

Force Field Analysis

For every goal that you set, there are conditions (forces) that encourage its completion. There are also conditions that discourage its completion.

The Force Field Analysis process helps you identify two kinds of forces: (1) the forces that are pushing with you as you work toward your goal (encouraging forces), and (2) the forces that are pushing against you (discouraging forces).

The process of force field analysis (developed by scientist Kurt Lewin) is based on a law of physics that says that when two equal but opposite forces push against one another, there is no movement.

Why is this important to a person working toward a goal? Because a similar dynamic can prevent you from achieving your goal.

The idea here is to avoid paralysis and encourage momentum by increasing positive (encouraging) forces and decreasing negative (discouraging) forces. For example:

Goal: Run in a marathon in 2002.

Discouraging forces:

•    I haven’t exercised regularly for the past five years.

•    I tend to start projects and then get bored quickly.

•    I live in the Midwest and weather can be a problem.

Encouraging forces:

•    I am in good health.

•    My neighbor is a runner and has encouraged me to take up the sport.

•    My family thinks this is a good idea.

After identifying as many encouraging as discouraging forces, you can map a strategy to build on your strengths-the forces in your favor-and reduce the barriers.

I encourage you to choose a goal of your own and make a list of the encouraging and discouraging forces. This will help you develop an action plan and increase your chances of success.

Your Action Plan

Once you have identified the forces that both favor and discourage the achievement of your goal, it’s time to make an action plan. Here is an example:

Force: I haven’t exercised regularly for the past five years.

Actions I can take:

1.    Start slowly.

2.    Map out a plan where I start with a 20-minute walk this Saturday morning.

3.    Buy a running magazine.

4.    Visit a few running web sites.

5.    Straighten up the room where my exercise bike has been serving as a clothes rack. Clear away the junk and move a TV in to encourage me to use the bike every other morning.

Who can help me:

1.    My neighbor, the runner.

2.    My family members will encourage me. I well tell them that I need this.

3.    The woman in the next cubicle started an exercise program last year.

Now it’s your turn. Just fill in the blanks.

Force:

Actions I can take:

1.

2.

3.

4.

Who can help me:

1.

2.

3.

4.

Life Balance

Photo by styf22/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by styf22/iStock / Getty Images

It is important to balance aspects of life by taking one step at a time. One of the most important things to remember is to set aside specific times to accomplish tasks. Getting more organized, setting specific times for doing tasks, and achieving a schedule will help individuals attain diminutive tasks throughout every day duties. Learning time management skills is definitely a way to help one accomplish goals.

Many people who claim to be victims of psychological or physiological effects of stress may have been able to deal more efficiently with the stressors by using different coping skills. Because we can not always change and manipulate stress nor our external realities, sometimes changing one’s outlook on life greatly affects the way an individual deals with and views stressors. For example, an individual who has a positive outlook, is physically fit, and in touch with many of the dimensions of her being may be able to make a connection by really listening to her body and focusing what her body may be trying to telling her. It is important that people know the avenues to use while dealing with and preventing stress. Massage therapy, accupuncture, yoga, and meditation may be a few ways to help individuals make the connection to life balance . I’ve learned that I really hold tension in my shoulders. So, when I am stressed out I try and work on releasing the tension in this area of my body. Deep relaxation may be another way to manage stress. I have actually written a few of my own meditations to practice.

The basic difference between constructive and destructive reactions to stress is that destructive reactions are maladaptive and constructive reactions are usually more effective.

Examples of destructive reactions are:

1.      Defensive Behavior, Criticism, Contempt, Stonewalling 

2.      Using Drugs and Alcohol

3.      Burnout

             Examples of constructive reactions are:

1.      Changing Self Defeating Thoughts and Messages

2.      Acquiring A Sense of Humor

3.      Utilizing Tips for Managing Stress