Every year, like most people, I think about the things I want to accomplish during the next 365 days. Get in shape, eat better, lose weight, make more money, save more money, expand my business, expand my world, write more, love more, clutter less, worry less, be a good partner, be a better friend, be kinder, be patient, be an example, be.
This year I realized it boils down to one simple tenet: make better choices every day.
But “the devil’s in the details,” a good friend said. And he’s right. Knowing which choices are going to help me achieve my goals takes thought, introspection, analysis, and planning. I have to know what I’m capable of achieving in any given day, week, and month, and then be willing to push it a bit further without pushing myself so hard I give up entirely. (There’s the rub, eh?)
For example, I know that to lose weight I need to move more. I track my steps on my phone, and while the average goal is 10,000, I hit that number rarely. I work from home so taking those steps is a Decision. It means I have to put on pants. And shoes. It means I have to stop working and take time out for me, and that is a pretty difficult thing to do. So I’m taking baby steps, as it were. My goal is to take 5,000 steps a day. I’ve made a concerted effort in the last month and I’ve lost four pounds, and that’s over both Thanksgiving and Christmas (woohoo!). When I have more 5,000-step days than not, I’ll up the goal to 6,000, then 7,000, until 10,000 steps a day is just what I do.
Taking those steps is a choice. If I don’t make it one day, I have to make a better choice the next if I want to lose that weight.
Another goal is to reduce the clutter I gather around me like a fluffy blanket. I’ve got one of those tall filing cabinets and it is filled with 96% crap. It’s stuffed with faxes I sent out when I first started The Local Tourist. It’s got story ideas about places that closed a decade ago. There are Franklin Planner pages from the 90’s.
This is campfire fodder.
So this month I’m going to make a choice that every time I get into that cabinet to file something that’s actually important (bills, tax info, ya’ know – adult stuff) I’m going to remove something that is so old it’s yellowed. If I think I might need it, I’ll scan it.
I’ve also got pamphlets and brochures just sitting in bags from trade shows. It’s ridiculous, the amount of paper that is just accumulating dust. It’s all going to become kindling. (That way I don’t add to the landfills. Bonus choice!) Once I’ve cleaned out the mess I’ve got I will choose more carefully what papers I add to my collection.
It’s all about choices. Last June I chose to begin writing in my journal again, and on days I didn’t want to I chose to anyway. Because of that choice I’ve seen more opportunities and growth than I have in years.
By making better choices every day, I am getting better. I’m getting closer to my goals. I’m a better person, a better business person, a better writer, and a better partner. I’m working on being a better friend.
Every day is a buffet of choices. Am I going to stick with the salad bar and the sauteed Tilapia? No. Tonight I’m eating five cheese pepperoni pizza and I will choose to eat more than I should and I will sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese and I will dip it in ranch dressing. But before I sit down to that gluttony I will pace my apartment until I get my 5k steps logged. Today I spent 579% more time on Facebook than I should have, which meant I didn’t cross as much off my list as I had planned, so tomorrow I will choose to spend less time weeding through fake news sites and being embroiled in others’ drama and I will get more done.
Each day I will make a better choice. I will take one or five or twenty more steps towards my goals. I will do it at my pace, knowing that for every good decision there will be positive reinforcement, and like a B.F. Skinner poster child, my behavior will change to what I envision it should be.
Make better choices every day.
I’ve got this. And so do you.
Happy New Year!