A Life Change Plan

 

This summer, I took two online courses that really changed my life- the best part? They were both free!  The first course I took is Rosemarie Groner’s 90 Day Budget Boot Camp.  The second course I took is Ruth Soukup’s Crushing It Mini Course.  The first question on the Mini-Course worksheet was an eye-opener for me.  It asks, “The Current Way You Describe Yourself”.  Here is what I wrote:

This is how I used to describe myself! See what I did to change it!
“I feel like a mess!”

I look at those words and I want to go back in time and give myself a hug.  But I was right; I was a mess.  Every day felt chaotic and out of control.  My first step was obvious: our spending had gone wildly out of control.  We went $500 over our budget one month.  I had to repair the damage done to our savings account.  We were going broke!

The Start of Something New

If you pick one goal and work towards it, you can build the momentum you need to keep making other changes, too.  All you need is the smallest taste of victory and the incentive to continue will take hold!  But where do you want to start?  That’s where my freebie comes in:

You probably have a loooong list of things that you don’t like about your life right now.  This kind of life change, the permanent, habit-building kind, takes time.  That’s where this worksheet comes in.  Pick your top five things you like the least about your life right now, and write them down.

Next, narrow your focus:

I can tell you from experience, trying to fix all 5 things at once will NEVER work.  It’s too drastic.  It would require a kind of discipline and stamina that we just don’t have.  And that’s okay!  This is a “long-con”, something that will happen over many months.  You WILL tackle all five of these goals.  But right now, you have to pick one.  I knew I had to fix our family budget, because, hello, $500.  If you are having trouble picking your first priority from your list, use these rules as a guideline:

  1. You should choose something that needs to change because it’s causing you stress.  You will be very invested in changing this because it is making your life miserable. OR:
  2. You should choose something that you are excited about and really want to do.

These two things might not be mutually exclusive- I was excited to start Budget Boot Camp and I needed it.  But you must follow one of the above rules.  For your first goal, you want to pick something that you have a high probability of accomplishing (remember what I said about tasting victory?).  You don’t want to pick something that you’re not willing to commit to 100 percent.  It won’t end well, and you will just add it to your list of “failed life experiments”.  Pick the thing that lights a fire in your brain.  Then, you need to figure out the HOW.  How can you make this change work?

What resources do you need to start this goal?

How do I find the resources I need to set, maintain or track a goal? Google is my first stop!
A Google Search is a great place to start!

I found Rosemarie in a google search!  If you need help or resources, google is a great place to start.  But don’t just pick the first thing you land on- if you’re choosing an online course, look for testimonials from other people who were in similar situations to yours.  Look for FREE things first- even if you are not on a super strict budget, there is good reason to try to be practical and wallet-friendly. Number one, because there are some incredible free things out there (see my examples above), and number two because you don’t need to stress yourself out by spending a bunch of money on something and creating a sense of “obligation” in yourself to see it through- thereby decreasing your enjoyment of the entire process.

Find the tool you want to use to help yourself.  If you need something basic, like a habit tracker, look in Pinterest (there are about a million free printables that help with goal-setting and habit tracking).  Look for a Facebook group and seek out an accountability partner.  Check your local “Community Education” website and see what they have to offer; if you want to start a new hobby, there are probably a few courses that might be reasonably priced.  It’s a chance to try something new and meet some people along the way!

Life Change: Step-by-Step

Making change starts with a step-by-step plan!
Create your checklist!

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s important: write out each step of your plan.  No step is too small.  If you need more room or spaces, print out another copy of the second page of my printable and write in more steps.  The more detail you have, the better.  I’m not re-inventing the wheel here- anyone who talks about goal-setting will tell you that achieving your goal is all about breaking it down.  It allows you to see the path.

Nothing is Set in Stone

Sometimes, when you are setting a goal or starting a project, you think it’s going to go one way, and… quite frankly, it goes another way completely.  If you are on unsure footing here- if you are attempting something really new and different and you’re a little scared- first, good!  That means you are picking the right thing!  And second, give yourself a deadline in the near future to re-evaluate your progress and change your steps if things aren’t working the way you want them to.  I recommend between one week and one month, depending on what your goal is.

DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION

Sorry, I know capital letters can get pedantic and annoying but I had to make that point loud and clear.  If your new goal is something you want to do every single day, like drink more water or exercise, you need to build up the stamina and the habit over time.  My next post is all about 28 day goals, but for now, what’s most important is that you give yourself tons of patience.  Every day is a chance to try again.  If you miss a day of your goal, or a step in your plan, then those are the things to re-evaluate at your deadline.  The best question you can ask is, “how can I help myself?”  If you’re ever stuck on what to do next, that is the first and best place to start.

TREAT YOURSELF

This part is really important, too, but I need to set a couple of ground rules:

  1. Your reward should be reasonable– if you are trying to stick to a budget, blowing your hard work on something you can’t afford that will put you further into debt is definitely not a good idea.  Set a budget for your reward and stick to it.
  2. Get creative.  What is something you haven’t done in a long time that would really make you happy?  This doesn’t necessarily have to be something that costs money.  If it’s been a long time since you got to sit on your computer and play The Sims for a couple hours, then maybe that’s the perfect treat!
  3. Get your husband/wife/SO/Partner on board.  Their support can mean the difference between success and failure.  They will also be very excited to enjoy your reward with you if it’s something fun like a dinner date or a trip to Target.
  4. The most obvious rule- pick something that you are very, very excited about.  If you really want it, you’re gonna work hard to get it!

That’s it!  Go forth and set your first, awesome, life-changing goal!  Don’t forget to download the freebie!

Write to me and tell me what you’re doing!  I want to hear all about your plan, help you if you have questions, and give you a big, virtual high-five!  Let’s celebrate this new beginning together!

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