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It's a new year and a new decade!
This year has been rough for me in many ways. In the grand scope of history, I cannot complain about my general life. Even in the grand scope of modern American life, I have so much to be grateful for. I know this intellectually.
Still, there can be very painful parts of life. As a mother, I'm still more impacted by the pain my children experience than any other. I don't know how to keep it from crushing me. Something to work on this year, if it is, indeed, possible. I don't want to stop caring, but what good am I to anyone if the life and hope are crushed out of me?
The purpose of this week's vlog is, actually, to learn to move forward, no matter what. No matter what.
So, today I’m going to tell you my simple goal setting system and then tell you about a really helpful book I just read and also a cool free resource I’m looking forward to using to help along the way.
Midlife goal setting is a very different animal, in many ways, from early adult goal setting. When you truly do not have “your whole life” to look forward to, but it’s more than half spent, urgency can be an issue. Priorities usually change as well. And often there is disappointment and regret for where your life is as opposed to where you thought it would be at this point.
Sometimes that disappointment and regret are overwhelming and gut-wrenching. And sometimes there is nothing you can do about them.
In most ways, though, moving forward in your life is much the same as it has always been, and requires a similar skill set.
I’m very much aligned with Jordan Peterson in saying that I do not think happiness is a reasonable life goal. Rather, the goal should be purpose.
Finding purpose is a much more complex process than finding happiness, in my experience.
I have always done projects, learned skills, and run a business. Still since 1987 my primary focus was raising, educating, and ensuring that my children survived. Homemaking and homeschooling are more than a full time job. Throwing in a home business made me more than busy.
Now that my children are almost all grown—five of our six children are now adults and the youngest is 16 and shooting out like a rocket into his future—it’s easy to feel useless. Finding a meaningful purpose is very important to me. But it's really difficult.
If you look at one of my earliest videos, you’ll see that while I think travel and leisure are fine and dandy, they aren’t the way I want to spend the next 30 years of my life. (Or the last 30 years of my life!)
Honestly, it seems like a waste. When there are so many people in real need, spending the rest of my life dining out and golfing seems incredibly self-centered. Even if I did like golfing. (Which I don't.)
A huge part of my goal setting is to prepare myself to make the biggest possible contribution and to do the most good I can. I don’t remotely have that all figured out yet, but I’m working on it. (And welcome your ideas!)
Without further ado, here's my goal setting system in a nutshell.
Midlife Goal Setting Made Simple
Ideas Become Dreams
Create a master dream list or bucket list.
Just brain dump everything you can possibly think of that you want to do or be before you die. Get it all out there. Nothing is off limits.
Dreams Become Projects
Choose the one item from your list that is possible at this time (even if difficult) and will make the biggest positive impact in your life.
Create a general plan to accomplish this goal.
Projects Become Actions
Break the plan down in to ridiculously doable action steps.
Create immediate momentum by taking the first tiny step
Rinse and Repeat
Maybe you can only handle one goal project right now. Maybe you can handle a lot. That is up to you, but always be moving forward on something!
I have seven areas where I focus my goals, to try to make sure all areas of my life are getting needed attention. They are:
Think of the areas of your life that you want to be mindful of and look at how you can improve in those areas.
Goal Setting Resources
Designing Your Life
In the process of figuring out my new second half purpose, I happened upon an amazing book. I bought it, read it, and loved it so much I bough three copies for three of my kids and their spouses.
Yes, that much.
Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life is the book that was a game-changer for me.
The authors are Stanford professors who wrote the book based on a course they ceated addressing all the students who were floundering about without really knowing what they really wanted to do.
Trust me, this information applies equally (or more) to midlife folks. Particularly if you are in a real midlife transition phase, like I am.
I recommend you read it and do the assignments. It’s helping me a lot.
You can even get a Designing Your Life Workbook if you want to be fancy. I'm just using a notebook and pen, but if that motivates you to action, spring for the extra $15 and dive in.
However you approach it (it's on Kindle or hardcover), I cannot recommend this enough. It's made a huge difference already and I've only had it a few weeks.
What To Do When It's Your Turn
Just this past week I read another book—an easy read—that has inspired me so much.
It even gave me my phase of the year: Embrace Stupid!
The books is called What to Do When It's Your Turn (and It's Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin, whom I hope you have heard of. He has a long string of best selling business-centric books with a lot of good life advice.
This book has lots of pictures and a fun format. Worth the shelf space for sure. I have a very different worldview from Godin, but there are so many gems in this book that I hope you will read it.
Best Decade Ever
Last but not least, I’m something of a fan of Mel Robbins, author of the 5 Second Rule. (If you are a procrastinator in any form, get this!)
Right now Mel is offering a new, free program (that officially starts January 6th) called Best Decade Ever. Just click that link and you can join. I’ve joined and will see where that takes me on the journey.
Time to get off the computer and onto my big dreams and goals for the year. In the next few weeks I'll be sharing some of what I'm working on. I'd love to hear what you have on the horizon as well.
Happy New Year, CREDOS!
Alison Moore Smith is a 59-year-old entrepreneur. She has been (very happily) married to Samuel M. Smith for 38 years. They are parents of six incredible children and grandparents to two astounding grandsons.
She is the author of The 7 Success Habits of Homeschoolers.