Often, once we get a grip on our “if only’s” we replace them with “what if’s.” I know that I have been guilty of doing this.
I have learned to cut myself some slack because moving to a new country has been full of fantastic new beginnings and optimal possibilities, but if I’m not mindful, they can very easily get lost in a sea of what-iffery!
In fact, I’ve discovered that progress can’t be optimal when my past regret is not forfeited, or my desire for control of the future is present. Much like financing our future, our lives need a budget to keep us aligned with our goals and aspirations.
In other words, we need to invest in our lives.
Evaluating your current life balance, enjoyment, and meaning
So, now that I have defined this, how does one go about planning out a life budget? Well, if you’re as terrible at finance as I am (which is pretty comical since I worked in finance for over five years) you might find yourself needing a little guidance.
The first step is asking the right questions to get a clearer vision of what exactly it is you want to achieve and how you can align your actions to design your future life’s balance, enjoyment, and meaning.
The easiest (I jest) way to evaluate how much balance, happiness, and meaning is in your current life is to break it up into three categories:
- Doing (Your job, hobbies, etc.)
- Having (Your possessions, relationships, etc.)
- Being (Your true inner self)
- How balanced is your life right now? Is your life/work balance healthy?
- How enjoyable is your life right now? Do you have time to engage in things you’re passionate about?
- How meaningful is your life right now? Do you believe in yourself? Do you still have things you want to achieve?
How much of yourself are you willing to invest?
For the longest time, I didn’t understand what it meant to “invest” in myself. I figured I went to college, became somewhat active, and had a small 401k going and that was what investing in myself was all about. While these are ways to financially and physically invest in me, self-investments are much deeper than that.
Like everything else, you need to ask yourself some important questions to properly invest in yourself and accomplish your desires.
- Where are your strengths? (There’s a fun test you can take here to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.)
- Do you value and use your intuition?
- Do you hope to set an example for others?
- Do you have a vision of your “ideal self”?
These are just a few of the questions that need to b asked, but important ones all the same.
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I would recommend setting one small goal at a time as this approach has proven to be the least overwhelming and has the highest long-term success rate.
The nutrition and fitness worlds are all about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, but in the life coaching world, there’s a bit more to this highly useful acronym.
Introducing S.M.A.R.T.E.N.U.P. goals.
- A-Achievable and Appealing
Let’s break apart the following client goal:
“I want to lose 10% of my body weight for my sister’s wedding in July. “
Is it specific? Yes, she has expressed a specific amount of weight she wishes to lose. She is 165 pounds and is proposing a weight loss of 16.5 pounds by the month of July.
Is it measurable? Yes, when she reaches 148.5 pounds she will have met their goal weight.
Is it appealing? Yes, this goal is achievable and appealing because she can clearly visualize her body at the desired achievable weight.
Is it realistic? Yes, with a sensible way of eating and the appropriate amount of physical activity this goal can healthfully be achieved with a 1-2 pound per week loss.
Is it timed? Yes, she has expressed the desire to complete this goal by her sister’s wedding in July.
Is she enthusiastic about her goal? Yes, she has set a realistic and achievable goal which will provide her with the confidence she desires for her sister’s wedding.
Is this goal understood by others? Yes, she has explained to her partner that she has set this goal for herself and that she will need to cook healthy meals and has dedicated herself to fitness classes at the gym over the next six months.
Is she prepared for any obstacles? Yes, she accepts that her goal is achievable enough that she can afford a weight loss regardless of possible injuries or unforeseen events. This goal also will allow for her to have a less structured and restrictive eating plan, which will ultimately lead to greater long-term success. She sees this goal as one that can be done in a balanced, enjoyable, and meaningful way.
Once you know which goals you want to achieve — and can answer yes to these questions — you can use them as an investment in yourself. Placing your goals into action is when you tie your life budget together. You must work within the balance of enjoyment and meaningfulness to achieve what you truly desire.
Have you ever thought about a “life budget” for your goals? Do you use the S.M.A.R.T. goal system? What’s a goal you’re working towards right now?