There is no one simple solution to finding happiness and harmony. It is the cumulative result of a huge number of conscious actions and behaviours; it is something like a number of different paths converging. It is the result of hard work, dedication and constant investment in your mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing – often over a long period of time.
New Year’s resolutions are traditionally a starting point for personal improvement. But this year, as many of us start 2021 under the strictest of restrictions and all of us on the back of an unimaginably difficult year, the path forward may appear to be extremely unclear, if not completely obscured. If you’ve abandoned hope, it’s understandable. But in the face of uncertainty and adversity, committing yourself to a higher goal is more important than ever, and it begins with positive action.
However, in order to bear fruit, action needs planning. In order for an action to be of value, it also has to be aligned with a specific goal. If we do not set out a clear and definite aim, our actions will lack focus and we risk our efforts being wasted. We also risk being sidetracked by events beyond our control. In an ideal world, our actions will take us along one of the paths that converge, not send us down a dead end road that eventually forces us to turn back and retrace our steps.
So how do we go about planning our actions? The key is in making a personal mission statement, a written set of objectives for a given period that you completely commit yourself to. Of course, it all begins with your personal values, a set of unwavering principles that are embedded into everything you choose to do (or not do). From this, you can define a main objective, your long game. Where is it you want to be in life? What is the single thing you want to achieve – your purpose? Once this has been established with absolute clarity, you are ready to break this down into sub-objectives with different time scales.
It is, of course, entirely possible that you have several aims. In such a case, you need to decide which one is of the greatest importance and focus on this at the exclusion of all others. Decide which ones you can come back to at a later stage in your journey once you have completed mission number one. You may also find that some of your goals diminish along the way and no longer hold relevance. Don’t be afraid to let go of these. There is a huge difference between giving up on a genuinely worthwhile goal and simply freeing yourself of distractions.
Only when you know exactly what it is you are on a mission to achieve and have set a deadline can you break it down into measureable milestones. As you continue to do this, you will eventually whittle your big goal down into daily objectives. And this is where the magic really happens. Even if you commit to just one tiny task a day, writing this task down as an obligation whose completion is absolutely non-negotiable
Once you begin setting your daily objectives and cementing them by putting pen to paper, you will force yourself to identify what actions you can take in order to fulfil them. Once the actions required of you are clear, it is simply a case of delivering.
Then, set yourself at least one measurable goal for every day – preferably on advance – and write it down. Not on a computer or smartphone, but with traditional ink and paper. In doing this, you immediately convert each and every goal into something tangible. It is much harder to renege on something you can hold and touch. Finally, do not punish yourself if you have not achieved your daily objective – but be accountable.
Don’t expect immediate results – but be true to your values, have faith in your actions and results will follow.