When you get up in the morning, what is the first thing you do? Do you have a lot of structure to your day where you have activities planned out? Or, do you go with the flow, and get things done on an as-needed basis?
Many people out there have a lot of great ideas. Ideas about exercising, eating right, volunteering, etc. However, how often do those ideas actually get realized? So often, an unexpected event occurs, and the first thing that goes out the door are the very things we should be doing each and every day.
Think about it, what is the one thing that everyone needs? It isn’t necessarily money, or hobbies, or whatever. It is health. Without health, life can be pretty darn miserable. Without health, it can be hard to enjoy other things like travel, socializing, etc.
So why does something so vitally important get put on the back burner so easily? Probably because people feel like they can always start practicing healthy habits tomorrow. Or, maybe there just isn’t enough time in the day (because you made too many plans and over-committed yourself). Think about all the times you were late coming home from work (or wherever), and so you hit the drive thru because it is so darn convenient. Often times there is no thought given to the amount of money the quick meal will cost, or the effect the fries will have on the heart. People just want to be done with their meal so they can move on to the next thing. What gets lost in the shuffle? Your well-being.
I have been thinking about this for myself. My goal has been to exercise at least five days a week. It doesn’t even have to be structured exercise. It can be going for a walk with the family, playing a long game of frisbee, hitting the tennis ball around for awhile, etc. I just want to do something active most days so my metabolism doesn’t slow to a crawl before I hit 50. However, I don’t always get those 5 days of exercise in. One of my biggest excuses is I will be up all night if I exercise after 8 p.m.
So, while evaluating my own personal roadblocks, I came up with some tips to help people succeed in accomplishing their short-term goals and getting the right things done:
- Make a list of priorities each week (or whatever time frame you prefer). List out things you MUST get done, things you would like to get done, and things that would be ‘nice to have’ done.
- Make a list of things you do NOT want to do, and place reminders for yourself in places you see frequently. Perhaps you are trying to stop drinking soda in the afternoon. Maybe place a note in your wallet saying “do I really want to spend money on this item?”. Hopefully having the visual reminder will persuade you to just put your wallet away and move on to something else.
- Dedicate a few minutes each morning to help accomplish your goals. If one of your goals is to eat healthier, then prepare some healthy snacks ahead of time that will be readily available when you feel hungry. If you want to exercise more, think through your day to see when you could fit the exercise in. (This activity could also be done the night before, maybe just before bedtime.)
- Periodically throughout the day, review your list of goals and see what you have accomplished. If your ‘must’ items are not getting done, you might have to alter other plans during the day to make sure you get your top priorities accomplished.
- Before you commit to anything, see if that activity is in line with your goals. If your calendar is already packed and someone asks you to come to a Pampered Chef party, say ‘NO’. Don’t make more problems for yourself by trying to make everyone else happy.
- Avoid distractions. Just about everyone lets their mind wander, and that is fine. However, what isn’t fine is if a lot of the day is taken up with non-productive tasks. For instance, If you find you are spending too much time looking at coupon sites, then set a pre-determined about of time that you feel is reasonable to devote to internet surfing. You must stick to your self-imposed limits and turn the computer off when the time you have alloted is up.
- Consider involving a friend you could report your progress to. Being accountable to others is a great way to alter habits and get things done. If there isn’t anyone that you feel will support you with your goals, then write your progress in a journal and review your results regularly.
Remember, there is a difference between things that MUST be done to meet commitments (like paying bills), and things that MUST be done for you personally. Both are equally important, and just because some things are easier to push aside doesn’t mean they should be. Everybody seems pressed for time these days, but that is no excuse for not taking care of yourself. If people used to be able to spend hours each day baking bread and hand-washing laundry, you can find time to wash an apple or go for a little bike ride.
Do you have any trouble keeping your priorities straight? What method do you use to make sure you get the right things done?