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An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living

This is the time if year we examine our life, as it has been, as it is, and as we would like it to be.

Around this time of year, we all talk about how we “Can’t believe another year has gone by.” We reminisce about the good times in the past year and sigh with relief that we got through the challenges we faced.
In keeping with the Socrates quotation above, I’m going to ask you to journey with me and really examine your life, as it has been, as it is, and as you would like it to be.
Much like the “Scrooge” character in “Christmas Carol,” I’ll ask you to journey with me to New Year’s past, present and future. I’ll ask you to ponder, play and project about your life, and the lessons you’ve learned, the joys you’ve experienced, and dreams you have for the future.
As you will read in my own personal story below, often, those times when everything seems to be going against us turn out to be the pivotal points in our lives. They’re the doorways to our greatest accomplishments. If you are presently experiencing one of those times fear not, for your journey may be just beginning. I used to jokingly tell people that the best thing about being at the bottom was that it was all up from there.
As with any personal journey, it’s useful to look at where you’ve been up until now. Several years ago, I began a practice of writing my accomplishments at the end of each year. I borrowed the idea from the corporate world. In most companies, managers are required to submit a list of their accomplishments and objectives annually. This information is used as the basis for performance reviews, raises, and promotions. The sense of personal satisfaction and encouragement I received after doing this once was so great that it has become a regular practice.
We take so much of what we do for granted, or just shrug it off, saying, “It’s no big deal.” We point to the successes, contributions, and accomplishments of others while overlooking all that we ourselves have done.
Only after taking the time to list our own accomplishments, activities and successes, do we see that we, too, are making a difference. We realize how much we have actually done in our lives. This serves to encourage and motivate us to greater heights.
Make a list of what you have done in the past year or two. Include everything you can think of. Where have you vacationed? What plays, movies, or concerts have you seen? What books have you read? What have you done for and with your family? What have you accomplished in your business? What about personal goals? What have you done for yourself? What about your health? Have you lost weight, began exercising, or played a sport? Did you start a business, write a book, or give a speech?
Write down everything you can think of, the more, the better. Seeing all you have done will raise your self-esteem and increase the likelihood that you will accomplish even more next year. You have probably done much more than you realize, and writing it down will enable you to see just how much you have accomplished.

Now for the present

If you were to purchase a retail business, the first thing you would do is perform an inventory. You would examine the merchandise to determine what was good and saleable, what needed repair and what you wanted to discard. To gain insight into your present life, do your own “Personal inventory.” Examine each of the key areas of your life – Spiritually and Religion; Self-development; Health and Fitness; Family and Relationships; Career and Business; Social and Material; Money and Investments, and decide what’s good, what needs some tweaking and what you’d like to change.
Make sure you list the things you like about yourself along with those you want to change. We have a tendency to list only the “bad” and overlook the good parts of ourselves. We all have attributes we like and it is important not to forget about these. Sure, there are probably lots of characteristics you would like to change but give yourself a pat on the back for the parts that you are satisfied with. You may want to come back to this list from time to time to gauge your progress.
Congratulations, you’ve just completed significant eye opening work and probably feel pretty good about yourself seeing your accomplishments and successes. I’ll venture a guess that you had not realized how much you’ve accomplished thus far in your life. It’s okay to pat yourself on the back right now, After all, you deserve it. The more you acknowledge your successes, the more successful you’ll become. Remember, we attract more of that we give our attention to.

A glimpse into your New Year’s yet to come

Now, we get to the really fun part. This is where you get to dream like a child again and create a compelling vision for your future. As adults, we tend to limit our dreams and desires. We’ve learned, over time, to settle for whatever we get. Children, on the other hand, have no trouble dreaming and are remarkably successful at manifesting what they want. What do you want? Write down everything you can think of that you want to do, be, have, and contribute. Don’t edit. Just write it all down. Let your mind run wild.
If you were to ask Olympic Gold Medal winner, Tara Lipinski, how she was able to win the gold medal at the age of fourteen, she would tell you how she “saw” herself doing it since she was a small child. In 1997, she became youngest woman to be crowned the World’s #1 skater. A title held for seventy years by Sonja Henie.


Creating your compelling vision

My friend and coach, Terri Levine, coined the phrase, “Technicolor Vision” as a way to encourage people to engage all their senses in creating a powerful, exciting, compelling vision for their future. One that would make them want to jump out of bed each day eager to start attracting their dreams.
Here’s a little exercise to help you get started. Do this for each of the key areas of your life – Spiritually and Religion; Self-development; Health and Fitness; Family and Relationships; Career and Business; Social and Material; Money and Investments.
Close your eyes and pretend it’s Five years into the future. Look at your life in each of those areas and imagine your living your ideal life in each one. What does that look like? Describe what you would see if you were living your Technicolor vision. Who are you spending your time with? What are you doing in your career or business? Where are you vacationing? If you achieved your ultimate financial success, what would it be? How much are you receiving each month? How much savings do you have? What about your health and fitness? What are you contributing to your community?
You’ll want this to be a fun, exciting exercise. One that will let you really expand your sense of what your life can become. Allow plenty of time to play with these ideas. You may want to complete this exercise over a period of days. Invest some time thinking about what you want your life to be like in five years. Go back to the “dreams” list you completed earlier and see what you want to add from there. Make your vision exciting.
The idea is to really get your juices going, to really excite you each time you read it. For example, there is a tremendous difference in the energy produced by reading the two statements below. The first one is your typical goal statement, and while it is better than nothing, it does not create the emotion of the second. You can see this for yourself by reading the statements aloud.
“I am so happy driving my new red convertible!”
Or:
“I am thrilled with my new red convertible. I love the feeling of the wind against my face and the smell of the fresh air as I zoom down the highway, with the sound of the wind whooshing by. This feels great!”
Can you feel the difference? Of course you can. The key to creating a powerful vision is to engage as many of your senses as possible.

You get more of what you measure

Now that you have a clear idea of where you want to be and what you want your life to become, it is time to extract some specific, measurable goals you will achieve in the next twelve months. We will then break these down even further and, finally, develop an action plan to keep you on track.
Look at your one-year goals and ask yourself what you can accomplish in the next three months. Take each goal that you set and break it down into a three-month milestone.

Getting into action

So far, you have created your vision, set your one-year goals and then broken those goals into smaller, three month milestones. We will now take it one-step further.
Look at your three month goals and list the specific actions you can take, in the next thirty days, to propel you toward your goals. You may want to write these on index cards and carry them with you or place them on your wall where you can look at them each day.
I know I’ve asked you to do a lot of work here and it may take you some time to fully complete these exercises, however, if you do so, you will find it time well spent. You will have gained invaluable insight into your life and taken the time to create the future of your dreams.
Writing your vision and goals and reading them regularly will guarantee you a future beyond anything you would have achieved just living day to day, relying on circumstances.
All highly successful people, from every walk of life, engage in some form of goal setting and visioning regularly. They are successful because they are designing their lives and creating their ideal future, using the same power that lies within us all.
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