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How do you measure success?  I heard this question a couple of days ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Aren’t we all striving for success in some fashion or another?  Isn’t it what drives us every day to do something or be something we’ve never been before? Or maybe for some people success is just being alive another day. Whatever it is, it’s definitely different for everyone, and we measure it by our own individual metrics.

One thing I’ve come to realize, after years of chasing the approval of people as a way of measuring success (be them corporate managers, personal friends, acquaintances, or others), is that whatever short term ‘success’ that may have seemed to be gained from their approval, fades away quickly. Leaving me disappointed, feeling like a failure, and not successful. The good thing I’ve come to realize is that if I stop looking to external sources to measure my success, and start looking internally, there are a lot of successes to celebrate and be proud of.  Successes like completing college, paying off college, having the courage to move thousands of miles away from family, friends, and everything familiar, by myself, to make a new life; saving and purchasing a home; getting out of debt; getting married; staying active and healthy; etc. The list is different for everyone, but the message is the same.  Recognizing our worth professionally and personally and the unique strengths we bring to the table is what it’s about. Success isn’t about what someone else thinks about you, it’s what you think about yourself.

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If you’re like most people (me included), when you get a great idea motivation runs high and you can’t wait to get started.  But then after a while, whether do to a hectic home life, work responsibilities, travel, etc. you wonder how will I ever make enough time to focus on this new thing.  It takes a lot of focused effort and resources to get a business off the ground. I’m constantly thinking about how to better organize my days, weeks, and months, to move things forward. Because after all, the goal is to generate income from this thing I like to do.  People often tease me because I’m very organized and love putting processes into place so that I don’t have to stop and think about what to do next in the course of my day. If I stopped to think about working out or going for a run, I’ll talk myself out of it every time.  But, when I tell myself first thing in the morning, here is what you are going to do today, a, b, and c, I’ll get it done.  For building and running my business, I keep an annual calendar broken out by quarter and month, listing all tasks I need to get done, and the deadlines by which they need to be completed. What does this do? It allows me to ‘not think’.  That sounds odd, but it’s true.  When I’ve downloaded these things on paper in advance, all have to do is execute according to the plan.  There is less clutter in my head. If you want to keep going when motivation begins to wane, put processes into place to keep you on track and moving towards your goal.

I recently heard a great Farnam Street podcast interview with Ed Latimore titled, The Secret to a Happy Life.  Ed touches on this exact topic.  He is a professional heavyweight boxer and physics major.  He talks about boxing, tough love, entropy, the worst that can happen, coaching, relationships, and a lot more.  I encourage you to take a listen.

Ed Latimore on The Secret to a Happy Life


“He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.” – Proverbs 11:15

PutUpSecurity

While listening to Brene Brown, Researcher, Author and Public Speaker, talk about vulnerability, being brave, having courage, and being happy to just be who God made me to be, I was inspired to create this Life Satisfaction chart. On the Y axis is Financial Satisfaction, which is a basic part of our lives in order to make a living and support ourselves. It measures how financially stable we are.  Are we financially stable now, or are we moving towards being more financially stable so that we can fully support ourselves and give to others. The X axis represents our Soul Satisfaction. Soul satisfaction is how content you are with your overall lifestyle and the level of emotional peace you have.

Every day we make decisions and do things that will put us someplace on this chart. Which quadrant are you in now?  Which quadrant do you want to be in?

LifeSatisfaction

 

Charlie Munger, Vice-Chair of Berkshire Hathaway and business partner to Warren Buffet, suggests identifying one’s own aptitudes is a key driver of success.

“You have to figure out what your own aptitudes are. If you play games where other people have the aptitudes and you don’t, you’re going to lose. And that’s as close to certain as any prediction that you can make. You have to figure out where you’ve got an edge. And you’ve got to play within your own circle of competence.”

Run like others or be different?

One day a hare met a tortoise. The hare said to the tortoise, “Why do you move so slowly? Why don’t you try to run like other animals?” Thus, the hare laughed at the tortoise for his slow pace.

The tortoise said, “I know that I cannot run. But I can beat you in a race.”

“Then come, let us run a race at once,” said the hare.

The race began. The hare ran very swiftly for some time. Then he stopped and looked back. He saw that the tortoise was far behind. So he said, “Now I can take rest. Let the tortoise come here and then I shall run again.”

So the hare sat under a tree to take rest. But soon he fell asleep.

The tortoise went on slowly but steadily. He did not stop for a moment.

Suddenly the hare woke up. He saw the tortoise very near the goal. He ran as fast as he could. But alas! The tortoise had already reached the goal.

From the book, The Tortoise and the Hare, an Aesops Fable story.

Slow and steady wins the race every time, in every area of our lives.

Slow and Steady

Fish3b

 

 

Map your course, not theirs.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires…courage.”   –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Author Elbert Hubbard once said, “Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer to your goal.”  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.”

When I was in ‘the lab’ back in November working on choosing specific words to be the foundation of my Vision Quest 2017, I realized something new.  Instead of just writing down goals for the six areas of my life, I also needed to write down principles that I would live by, while working towards the goals. The before structure was made up of a specific main goal, followed by points of tactical action steps to get me to the goal. This year I decided to consider those tactical steps as principles to live by, rather than tactical action steps.  With the new structure, I’m incorporating those former action steps as a part of my daily, weekly, and monthly lifestyle. And not just doing them when there is a particular goal to reach.  Once I reach the goal, I want to maintain that goal, not stop doing what I was doing to reach the goal, so I need to be sure to make the activities are part of a lifestyle, not temporary.  I think this is why so many people fail at weight loss programs. Once they reach that magical number on the scale, they go back to doing what they did before.  Below is an example of goals and principles in the financial category of life. 

principles

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year holiday. It’s time to jump right into the new year!  We’ve been talking about building our 2017 vision board, using the special core words and underlying principles we plan to live by this year.  Remember, the overall reason for spending so much time and brain power on building a vision board, is to create something we can focus on every day, that will help make us better people tomorrow than we are today.  The more people who share this frame of mind, the more strength and power we will be as a whole to make our world a better, safer, and more beautiful place to live in now, and create a sustainable, brighter place for our children and grandchildren to live in later.

As promised, today, to kick off the new year, I’m revealing my 2017 vision board. To recap, here are my core words.

  • Essentials: Do essential things only, let the rest go – focus on tasks that move the needle, don’t let the busy things detract me.
  • Presence: Be present with everyone in everything, in good and in uncomfortable situations – I will learn more about them and they will feel heard and understood.
  • Energy: Bring energy – it brings everything up and makes life more exciting for everyone.

As I think of these words coupled together with the principles I’ve identified that I need to focus on (that I wrote down) in the six areas of my life (Relationships, Spiritual Growth, Healthy & Fit, Career, Financial Stability, Intellectual Stimulation), I selected a wide variety of images. I love each one of them. So, here it is, my 2017 Vision Board!

I sincerely hope the very best for all of you in 2017!

vq201723x17

As we are quickly nearing the end of 2016, it’s a great time to reflect on the year’s successes.  Perhaps it’s the entrepreneur in me, but as soon as I recount my successes, I can’t help but focus on what I can do to make the coming year more fulfilling than the last. Most people look at the new year as a clean slate and start talking about their new year’s resolutions – what they will change, start, or stop doing in the new year.

In my book, Your Ultimate Life Vision, I talk about resolutions vs. goals. As Earnest Hemingway wisely said, “Never mistake motion for action.”  Some people talk about doing things differently, however those resolutions fade and nothing changes. The only way to make your plans stick, is to put together a written vision plan starting now, in December.  Don’t be confused, this is not a list of new year’s resolutions.  Your vision plan is meant to last a lifetime, but your resolutions will be distant memories by March, like your new gym membership.

In the January 2012 edition of InStyle magazine, the following readership poll results were published, listing the most popular new year’s resolutions.

  •             22% – Manage my money wisely and stick to a budget
  •             18% – Stress less
  •             10% – Read and improve my mind
  •              6% –  Spend more time with family and friends

Webster’s dictionary defines the word resolution as the act or process of resolving as: the act of analyzing a complex notion into a simpler one; the act of answering (solving); the act of determining. And it defines the word commitment as an agreement or pledge to do something in the future. Do you see the difference? Having a resolution is good in that you’ve identified specific things you want to do, or changes you want to make, however only when a commitment is made, will you move those plans forward and actually do them. Resolutions without a commitment are powerless and do nothing.

What are you REALLY going to change in 2017? What are you going to do to make yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, healthier, build a career that allows you to become more financially stable so you can take care of yourself, your family, and give to those in need right next to us.

Never mistake motion for action.  Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”  Don’t be a talker, be a doer, and make it happen!

boatwheel

Art

Art by Christine (Parrish) Barker. © Christine Barker. All rights reserved.

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© Christine (Parrish) Barker and Your Ultimate Life Vision 2017. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Christine (Parrish) Barker and Your Ultimate Life Vision with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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