265 Days of Thanks

Today marks my final and 265th post for this resolution and goal I set for myself back in January, 2012. I could not end this process without sharing my deepest thanks to my friends and readers who have been so supportive with ideas, topic suggestions, questions, and more.

I have thought about what I would write on this final day, basically ever since I started. I never really believed I would make it for an entire year, but I also never seriously considered quitting. I felt that if I quit this goal, I would be quitting on myself.

While I thought of my readers when I chose daily topics, the act of actually writing every day and sticking to a goal, was something I did for myself. Something I did because I felt I was worth the commitment and the effort and the time. I’m not sure that this makes sense, but that is how I felt each Sunday night when I would sit down and think about the blogs I would write in the week ahead. No matter how tired I felt or busy life was, I made time for these daily musings, and that felt like time for me.

So, I leave you with this: What are you doing for yourself? What are you doing for yourself that is difficult and challenging and sometimes inconvenient, but also meaningful? Blogging during this past year helped me to answer that question. And because I did, I felt more alive and aware and self-preserved. I encourage you to find the answer that is right for you, and feel the joy that comes from honoring commitments to yourself.

The Finish Line

I noticed that during the past few weeks of writing my blog, I lost some of my motivation. I usually write my blogs the night before, and for the first time this entire year I woke up on a Monday morning having completely forgotten to write my blog for the day. I just couldn’t believe it! There I was just a few weeks away from the end of my goal, and I was losing focus.

What is it about the finish line that causes one person to push harder and another person to quit. Of course I didn’t quit, but I can relate to people just throwing their hands in the air with exhaustion and giving up right as they start seeing the end in the near future.

I kept pushing because this goal is so public, and at that point I knew I would just feel so terrible if I gave up. The feeling of regret was a significant motivator to keep me going.

Choosing Your Goals

During this past year, I set various goals for myself:
- Run a 5K
- Take a self defense class
- Donate blood
- Blog 5 days a week, every week, for an entire year

So why did I choose those goals? Well, let’s see…

I had decided to run the 5K as a 2011 resolution and never completed it. That feeling of failure at the end of 2011 stuck with me and motivated me to set it again in 2012…and actually complete it!

In 2011, I also thought about taking a self defense class but never made it a real priority. Since I was setting goals, this seemed like a good time to push myself to start learning about self defense in 2012 as well.

As for donating blood, I was always far too squeamish to actually do it. This year I just decided enough was enough – being a little afraid of a needle was no longer a valid excuse to avoid helping those in need.

And blogging…well, that was decided on a whim. Ironically, it was the biggest goal of them all. I’m sure that if I sat down to really think about the goal, I would have come up with all sorts of reasons not to do it. So I just set it, without much thought, and actually stuck to it!

This year, I have only set one real resolution - to stop agreeing to do things that I really don’t want to do, and to start saying “no”. I feel like I need a few others, but I’m confident they’ll come to me in time.

What are your resolutions for 2013? How did you choose them? Tweet me @RonicaCleary or post a comment below.

Change of Plans

When you set a goal for yourself, you may need to change it as you go. Be careful to fully understand why you are changing it though. Any changes should be made for a specific reason (just as the goal itself should be specific).

If you’re losing focus or feel you don’t have enough time, try to figure out why. During this past year, there were times when I felt like I just didn’t have it in me to write another blog post or I was simply out of ideas. Because I felt so compelled to stick to my goal, I learned that the concerns I felt were simply unfounded.

Challenge yourself to push through your concerns at least a few times before you start changing your goals - you may learn that  you are more motivated and more able than you realized!

The Final Stretch

Today marks the start of the final week of a very long resolution. In January, 2012, I decided to blog 5-days a week for an entire year, on a whim. I have made commitments to blog in the past, but half-heartedly. There was something about putting specific criteria to the goal that helped make it stick.

When setting a goal for yourself, set boundaries and quantify what you want to accomplish. If I had set the goal with broad, sweeping generalizations, I’m certain I would have failed: I want to blog a lot in 2012. Instead, I set a specific and quantifiable goal: I want to blog 5 days a week, every week, for an entire year.

When you quantify a goal it is easier to see when you are falling behind, when you are in line and when you’re ahead of the game.

This week I’ll focus on goals and resolutions as I complete this lengthy project. If you have any thoughts you would like to share, tweet me @RonicaCleary or leave a comment below.

Planning for the Weekend

This past Monday, I wrote about planning for the week ahead. Now that it is Friday, I want to encourage you to take the same time to plan for the weekend ahead.

Make the most of your weekend by thinking about what you accomplish. It never feels good when you get to the end of the weekend and didn’t finish what you had hoped to.

I have come to accept that I am pretty inefficient on Friday evenings, because I’m usually so tired. One of my goals this weekend is to accomplish just one task on Friday night. Then if I complete the usual on Saturday and Sunday, I’ll feel great by the end of the weekend.

Give yourself small tasks to accomplish and soon you’ll be on your way to completing a much bigger goal!

Get Some Rest

Not only is it flu season, it is what many are calling an epidemic. Doing what you can to stay healthy during this time is essential.

This past week I can feel the start of something coming on, so I’m taking vitamins, doing less and getting to bed early. It is a struggle to take it a little slower this week – I am passionate about life and love my commitments. But I realize that I’ll have to sacrifice even more if I push too hard and get myself even sicker!

How do you stay healthy during the flu season? Tweet me @RonicaCleary or leave a comment.

Giving Credit

There is nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments at work. Taking a moment to mention a recent success to a supervisor is a good thing and shows that you are confident. But the credit shouldn’t stop there - take time to acknowledge the hard work of those who support you as well.

If you have an assistant or co-worker who is helping you with a project (and doing a great job), take time to note this in the office. By acknowledging the performance of others, you actually elevate the image of the entire team. It shows that you are a team player and that you understand that success is never accomplished alone. You’ll also make others want to work with you because they’ll trust that you take time to recognize the work of those around you.

Checking In

After you leave a job, it is a good idea to check in from time to time with past co-workers. It is a nice opportunity to continue to build your relationships and strengthen bonds. 

Why should you do this? Well, past co-workers can be great members of your network (assuming you left on positive terms). They know your work ethic and would likely be willing to write letters of reference for you in the future. And if you are staying in the same industry, they likely have contacts at other organizations. Maintaining positive relationships will allow you to continue to call on past co-workers for support, mentorship and guidance throughout your career.

Keep in mind that this won’t always be possible. Some past co-workers won’t want to help you and won’t have time for you. That is OK. You don’t need to keep in touch with every person you have ever worked with.

Planning for the Week Ahead

It can be difficult to get motivated on Monday. But the week goes by quickly and if you don’t get going right away, you will lose valuable time.

If you have a strict work schedule, the precious hours after 5PM are valuable and shouldn’t be wasted. On Sunday nights (or Monday mornings), plan your evenings for the week ahead.

You might decide to spend one night at the gym, one night at dinner with a friend, one night running errands and one night doing work – these are just some options, but planning ahead is key. Otherwise, you’ll wake up Friday morning having missed opportunities to make the most of your time – and then get stuck with extra errands on the weekends.