Twelve Steps to a Better Life

The secret to successful goal setting is choosing goals that are achievable and within reach. While there are multitudes of ways to succeed in your personal and professional life, the following is the 12-step guide to a better life

  1. Define your passion
    What is it that makes you enthusiastic? That fuels your passion and motivates you? If you don't know, now is the time to sit back and draw up a wish-list. Include everything you've ever wanted to be, doing and have in your life, and work out a way to incorporate these dreams into your present every-day reality or your intermediate to long-term plans. Whether this entails a complete career shift, changes in your personal life or a revamped work-life balance, working towards achieving goals that inspire and motivate you will add an extra impetus to your life and drive you to further success.
  2. Create a 5 year plan
    Once you have defined your passion and what fuels and motivates you, plan for success. Set clear goals for yourself and create a 5 year plan that takes into account how and when you will achieve them. Make sure your objectives are clear and be as detailed as possible in your planning, including realistic time frames and taking into account any resources needed. Rather than getting wrapped up and swamped in the demands of day-to-day life and spending your days rushing from one deadline to another, intelligent planning on both a macro and micro basis will allow you to optimize your workdays, weeks and months and never lose sight of the big picture and main priorities. Examples of your goals may be to build leadership skills, achieve a certain position within your company, learn a new skill, master an old one, gain a higher degree, work on people skills, change careers etc.
  3. Make it a goal to regularly upgrade your skills
    Updating and upgrading your skills should be an important and integral part of your 5 year plan whatever line of work you are in. Pinpoint the skills you need to work on and research and identify materials you need to read and/or courses you will need to take to achieve your goals whether they be on-line, in the community college, through employer-sponsored training and continuing education programs or otherwise. Learning more about new technology is always a good idea in any profession as is learning a foreign language and taking any courses/ seminars that allow you to stay at the vanguard of your industry and profession.
  4. Find a mentor
    Why face the world alone when you can have the wisdom, experience and sensibilities of a mentor to guide and help you along the way. Effective mentors are invaluable resources and can lend a great a deal of momentum to your career through their encouragement and advice in both the good times and the tough. Career obstacles can often be better faced when viewed from the lenses of an experienced mentor and many a career has been accelerated to overdrive mode thanks to the wisdom and careful guidance of a veteran practitioner in the field who also acted as a mentor. Chose a mentor who is a good listener, whose professional judgments you trust and whose wisdom and experience you value.
  5. Separate personal life from professional life
    It is critical for your long term success in both your personal and professional lives to achieve a healthy work-life balance and a clear separation between the two. Make sure you give each platform your all and apply yourself completely, both emotionally and mentally to each at the appropriate time. When one aspect of your life starts to spill over into another, your performance will slack and you will begin to feel yourself losing control and your confidence waning. Create healthy boundaries between your work life and your personal life and give each its due without sabotaging that important balance that leads to mental and emotional health and well-being. Learn to say 'no' to things that overload your schedule needlessly and do not support your primary goals and priorities.
  6. Commit to a positive mindset
    Crucial to your long-term health and well-being is to commit to a positive mindset, regardless of circumstances. The way we see the world and our response to events is a choice we make and it is always preferable to maintain a positive mental mind frame and commit to a consistently optimistic attitude about the world. Feed your emotional, spiritual and mental self regularly the same way you would feed your physical self in order to maintain its optimal health. This can take the form of reading motivational books, listening to inspirational tapes, relationships that lift and inspire you, or simply time spent 'playing' frivolously and doing the things you like to do best. If you see the glass as half full and the world as full of potential and possibility you will be more able to endear yourself to others, confront life's daily vagaries and succeed in both your personal and professional lives.
  7. Be persistent
    Persistence pays. Consistent hard work, married with detailed planning, effective time management and enthusiasm will eventually reap rewards. Once you have committed to a goal, allow nothing to stand in our way whether it is doubts, criticism, outside influences, distractions, low self-esteem or impatience. Keep your vision in sight at all times and remind yourself of where you are headed when times are tough.
  8. Take responsibility for your actions
    Taking responsibility for your actions will enable you to focus on your strengths, work on your weaknesses and stop the time-consuming career quicksand of blaming others. Once you take full accountability for your work, you can focus on perfecting it and on finding solutions rather than laying the blame at someone else's door. An attitude of full accountability coupled with a solution-focused mentality is a sure formula for success.
  9. Aim for excellence
    Settle for nothing less than excellence in all your endeavors. An attitude of excellence should permeate everything you do and you should aim to work on yourself to the extent necessary to achieve your excellence benchmarks. Make continuous self-improvement an integral part of your planning and goal setting activities in order to attain consistent excellence standards.
  10. Take time out to nurture yourself
    Every successful professional need some "me-time" to refuel, recharge the batteries and regain perspective. Take time out of your busy schedule regularly to do what you enjoy, whether it be reading, pottering around the garden, volunteering in the community, pursuing sports or singing in the village choir. By enriching yourself and becoming your optimum and healthiest self, you will be able to better contribute both at work and at home with the family.
  11. Take control of your finances
    Make sure your budget and financial planning activities allow for a robust savings and investment margin. It is never too early to plan for a comfortable retirement. Enlist the help of professionals to advise you on how to build a comfortable nest-egg for yourself and your family while you are still earning a healthy income.
  12. Be grateful
    Key to your emotional and spiritual wellbeing is to regularly step back and count your blessings. Always remind yourself of where you have succeeded in life and what your past achievements are and never lose sight of the myriad of little and not so little blessings that have populated your life to date.

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