Volume 12
Want Balance? Here's How to Make That Goal Stick

I will be more balanced.

Does that sound familiar? It may be the most popular goal or resolution among those who are busy at work and in life. Many resolve “I will be more balanced” year after year and some of us have gotten to the point where we don't even bother.

We say life happens or that other priorities get in the way. Thankfully, these are NOT the reasons we don’t achieve balance. It’s how we’ve framed the goal or resolution that’s the problem – it is uninspiring. It is when we are inspired we achieve significant results. It is when we are inspired that we transform.

If you really want balance in your life, this Forward ThinkingTM Reminder provides guidance on how to powerfully re-frame your goal or resolution.

Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.

I will be more balanced is actually focused on what I don’t want. I will be more balanced is saying to me I’m not balanced, which in and of itself is not inspiring. Worse, I will be more balanced instructs my brain to point out every time and every evidence that I am not balanced. It doesn’t point out any of the times I am balanced and it certainly doesn’t point out any opportunities to practice being balanced—because that isn’t what it is instructed to do. At the end of the day, when I reflect on how I did, I instruct my brain to focus on everything I did wrong, so I don’t see anything I did right. I feel like a failure and I berate myself for not being balanced.

We are torturing ourselves! We’re not in a state of thankfulness, wonder, vision, purpose or possibility (which brings about transformation) and the downward spiral begins.

Take a look at your resolutions and your goals and make sure they are focused on what you want. Say your resolution out loud. Notice how you feel. You either feel inspired or you don’t!

If I say I want to be less stressed, that’s focused on what I don’t want. In this resolution, this goal, I will be more balanced, we can do without the word more.

So now my reframed goal is I will be balanced. That’s a little better – still not inspiring!

Focus on the NOW.

If you have read my book or attended the live workshop or watched the DVD, you know that there is no such thing as the future, that the future is an illusion. What we do have is a NOW followed by a NOW followed by a whole lot of NOWs. We do not suddenly become bankrupt. We have a series of bankrupt NOW moments. We do not suddenly become a great leader or a great parent or healthy. We have a series of great leader, great parent, and healthy NOW moments. And it's the same with accomplishing balance. It doesn't suddenly happen. It's a series of NOW moments and balance is fulfilled when we have achieved a critical mass of these NOW moments of balance!

When we say I will be balanced, the I will be means just that--I will be. Sometime in the future. It is not focused on the NOW. It is not a statement of vision or purpose. It is a statement of future and force and is not inspiring. To test this, close your eyes, and say the following out loud and notice how you feel as you say each one:

I will be more balanced.               I choose balance.
I need to get balanced.               I am committed to balance.
I should be balanced.               Balance is important to me.
I’m not balanced.                     I am practicing balance.
When will I ever get balanced?      How can I practice balance in this moment?

Which feels powerful and inspiring?

To focus on the NOW, stay in the present tense. Lose the words will, want, need to, should, have to, not, and to be. Use I resolve, I am, I choose (not I choose to be that’s in the future), I am committed to, I now, I practice, It’s important to me that.

To keep your goals and resolutions in the NOW and start building that critical mass of NOW moments of balance, prepare powerful statements for yourself such as I choose balance, I choose peace in this moment, I am balanced, balance is important to me – statements that really bring back and keep balance in focus for you. Say these statements first thing in the morning, last thing at night when you’re in your highest states of consciousness, and any time throughout the day when you feel yourself challenged, when you feel yourself thinking that you’re not balanced.

Prepare for yourself powerful questions (focused on what you want) focused on what you can do in the present moment that fulfills your resolution. For example: How can I express appreciation and love to my family right now in this moment? What can I do in this moment that brings me peace? How can I work late tonight AND connect with my family? How can I be with my family tonight AND help my customer feel valued? What one day each week can I play? Or I can make Monday play day and Tuesday is connect with my kids day and Wednesday is peace of mind day.

When we start paying attention to how we can be balanced in each moment, we see that it is possible to be busy and balanced. We see that we can be driven and balanced. And because balance is in alignment with who we truly are and what we truly want, we notice how we get ideas on how to be great at what we do and be balanced.

So now our resolution, our goal, is I am balanced, I choose balance, I am committed to balance, or I now practice balance.

Describe the ripple effect – the difference you’re making by fulfilling your resolution of balance.

We are all about contributing and making a difference. Keep asking yourself, “What does this bring me?" and “What does this bring others?” until you see and feel the difference you make in your life and the lives of others by achieving your goal and fulfilling your resolution of balance. For example, if I ask, "What does balance bring me and others?” I may say, “I play and enjoy activities with my kids.” When I ask what that brings me, I may say, “I have fun and bond with my kids. They feel safe to talk with me. And when they feel safe to talk with me, they can talk with me about anything! Then I can fulfill my vision of being a guide and mentor to them which helps them in their lives.” When I re-frame my goals and resolutions to include the ripple effect, then they are meaningful to me, and I become inspired.

Tell the story.

When we can tell the story of our goals and resolutions, including the ripple effect, and we’re inspired, that’s when we become energized and receive all kinds of ideas on how to fulfill our resolutions and achieve our goals.

At this point, our resolution, our goal, is I choose balance, I am balanced, I am committed to balance, or I now practice balance. First, let’s look at the word balance. What does that mean? What does that look like? If I don’t give it meaning, then my brain delivers to me the thoughts and feelings on balance that it has stored. Without a definition or vision of balance, I could feel that balance is unattainable. Or it could be underwhelming - if I don't know what balance means or what living the word balance looks like, it may be hard for me to feel motivated to do anything.

  • First I define to myself what living and being the word balance looks like and means to me (taking care to stay focused on what I want and to stay in the present tense). I may decide that balance means working less (oops! That’s focused on what I don’t want). Try again -- being home more (oops! Take out that more!), exercising (oops! Exercising feels burdensome to me. So let’s try playing or moving regularly, and reducing stress (oops! Focused on what I don’t want!) Let’s try choosing peace of mind.
     
  • Then I expand the vision. I describe what being home, playing regularly and choosing peace of mind mean and look like. For example, perhaps being home means I connect with my family. And what does that look like? What does that bring me and bring others? I create a safe haven for conversation. And what does that mean? I listen. I ask questions. I stay curious and seek to understand vs. be understood. I express my appreciation and love for them. Now we’re getting somewhere!
     
  • I keep adding detail until I get to the point where I feel a click – it feels real and it feels possible. Balance is possible for me. I feel inspired. And now my brain can help me look for opportunities to live the word balance –today! I may also discover, when I develop the stories for playing and having peace of mind, that there are ways I can accomplish all three at once. For example – I play with my kids, which gives me the opportunity to connect with them, and exercise and have fun which brings me health, brings me peace of mind – it all brings me balance!
     
  • Then I say my story out loud several times and notice how I feel. I keep saying it out loud and making adjustments to the story until it is truly mine, until I feel inspired, until I feel, "This is me, this is possible, this is my new story."



Acknowledge your progress and do do-overs.

When you catch yourself thinking, saying, or doing something contrary to your goal or resolution, don't blame or judge or criticize yourself. That accomplishes nothing and actually works against you. Instead, simply do it over, and re-think, re-say, or re-do it the way you intend. You are giving your brain and body a new script. And the more often your brain practices these new thoughts and actions, the sooner your brain starts focusing on presenting you with your new thoughts and actions of balance--automatically.

When we reflect on how we did, it doesn't matter that we didn't exercise five times. It does matter that we exercised once or possibly recognized the opportunity to exercise. That is a NOW moment to be recognized and celebrated toward our goal, toward the building of the critical mass of NOW moments of balance. It does not matter that I got stressed out several times today. It does matter that I was aware of when I was stressed and that one or more times I chose peace. It's the slow gradual changes that are lasting.

Include in your goals and resolutions a daily process or ritual to reflect on the day and celebrate or acknowledge the NOW moments you were successful and that you were aware of your choices. When we are thankful and acknowledge the progress we have made, no matter how small, we become inspired and we receive ideas on how to expand and rise to the next level.

As Lao-Tzu said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins in a single step." I invite you to make just one small change each week. These very small NOW changes add up to big changes over a year and significant change for a lifetime.

May your thoughts bring you peace and inspire you.

MANAGING THOUGHT