Sunday, January 8, 2012

A New Year

The New Year brings about thoughts of new beginnings. As I watched fireworks over the harbor bring in 2012, I thought about what things in my life I would like to change. The one thing that immediately came to mind is that I would like to have more time to write.

But in order to have time to write, something else has to be either put on the back burner or eliminated from my life. I am full up on obligations that I won’t bother to list here. The point is that I am at my limit and looking for a way to change my situation.

A couple of days later I noticed something in my inbox. I am on financial guru Dave Ramsey’s bulk email list. In a recent installment, he describes a method to get what you want out of life.

First, he advises you to look at your values and passions. Forgetting about money, what would you do if you could do anything in the world? For me, it would be to live on the water, with a desk in front of a water-view window, while I write during the day.

Next, Dave says look at your skills and abilities. What do you enjoy? What kind of activities and jobs get you excited? Likely, these things fall within your skills and abilities set. Concentrating on what you do well will help you plan your next step. When you love what you do, the odds are that others will love the outcome. I love to write. I can feel my pulse slow and the tension drain away as I write. Work-wise, it is the one thing that I do that while I am doing it, I don’t feel like I should be doing something else.

Now, use these things to create your goals. Well-written goals should have a time limit, be measurable and be specific. The example Dave uses is “By December 31, 2010, I will lose 40 lbs. by working out three days a week and limiting myself to 2000 calories a day.” This one I’m still working on for myself.

Lastly, your goals should be used to compose a mission statement. Dave says, “This says in concrete terms who you are, what’s important to you and what you want to accomplish in life in 100 words or less.” Dave Ramsey’s description of composing a mission statement sounds remarkably like advice I’ve heard about writing a story pitch. I figure if I can write a pitch for my story, I can write a mission statement about another story I know—my own life.

My own life. That’s the part I sometimes forget—this is my life and not everyone else’s. Though I often feel trapped by too many obligations, how I compose the story of my life is largely my decision.

How successful are you at prioritizing your goals? Do you have any hints regarding what worked and what didn't?

Dave Ramsey has published several books and conducts a radio show on financial advice.


  1. Great sentiments, Lisa. I, as you know, tend to be very goal-oriented. I love concrete goals. Sometimes I achieve them, sometimes I don't. But I do know that I achieve a heck of a lot more than I would have without setting goals.

    My father-in-law swears by Dave Ramsey. I'll have to check out his books. I like the advice you relate here. And, wow, just wow, about the mission statement for your life. A lightbulb went on. I will certainly look into it.

    I do believe I'm closer to my goals today, in 2012, than I've ever been because I've held such concrete goals in the past several years. The goals are a clear pathway that shows how much progress I've made. I often find I also revise goals after I've achieved something I thought was important to me, but now has taken a backseat to other goals.

    I enjoyed the post. I love thinking about this stuff. Thanks for posting!

  2. Thanks, Candy. It's funny but I told a friend several months ago when my day job was talking about their mission statement that I thought we should create a personal mission statement. Each of us batted some things around but no finished product ever came out of it for either of us. Then, what do you know, Dave Ramsey is talking about this very thing. I think it's a sign that I should pursue it again. I'm thinking about doing one other thing he recommended--writing it up and posting it over your desk where you see it every day. For several years I used a Franklin Covey organizer. Those were some of the most productive years of my life. I'm thinking about using it again. The iphone is great for appointments but it doesn't keep me focused on the important things the way that organizer did.

  3. Hi, Lisa. I feel your pain!

    Often, what I think I should do gets in the way of what I could do, when really many of those shoulds aren't musts. They're just maybes.

    That's the trick, isn't it? Knowing the difference between the shoulds and the musts.

    Of course, sometimes, we have a lot of musts in our lives. But I find there aren't as many musts as I thought there was when I separate them from what are truly shoulds. I never manage to do that all the time. But I'm working on it!

  4. Lisa!!

    I love goals!! But sometimes I'm better at follow through than other times. Maybe that happens when I've done the sorting that Christa mentions - filtering the musts from the shoulds?

    Would love to do some life mission statement brainstorming with you!!

  5. Mission statement for your life, hmm. Interesting! I picked a word for the year . . . I'll have to think about this mission statement thing!

    Your posts *always* get me thinking, Lisa.

  6. Christa - Yes, you do have to know the difference between the musts and shoulds. Also, I think you need to know when to be flexible. In other words, sometimes musts become shoulds and shoulds morph into musts. Let's talk more about that in person - that will be an interesting discussion, I think.

    Keely - I do love goals, too. One goal I love is the one to submit to the group every week. Even it I don't have anything for that week, at least it's in the forefront of my mind.

    I have a secret love for mission statements. I had a lot of classes talking about them during my college years. They really are a lot trickier than you would think. It's easy to list everything you've always wanted to do but much, much harder to boil that down into the perfect statement. I've had a chance to work on mission statements at various jobs and it's always both scary and exciting.

    As for the brainstorming session - bring it on! That's another thing I love. :)

    Evie - I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this week's topic. You always have the best insights. And thank you for your kind words. :)