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Keep a Diary of Your Achievements to Stay on Course in 2012

Keep a Diary of Your Achievements to Stay on Course in 2012

    So, the New Year is upon us and you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in 2012. You’ve written your goals, made your plans and to-do lists, and you’re ready to go; marching onwards to success armed with an unwavering sense of motivation and some useful productivity tools.

    Once you’ve started, it’s important to ensure that you remain on course and the actions you take on a day-to-day basis are steering you towards to the ‘Promised Land’ known as Success.Writing down your achievements at the end of the day, rather than just crossing them off a to-do list as you go along has more benefits than you might think.

    How to record your achievements

    There are a number of ways you could do this; keeping a blog or paper journal , using a whiteboard of maybe a productivity app.

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    Alternatively, try using a week-to-view desk diary.

    Why use a diary?

    You easily glance over a week’s achievements and review your progress (more of which later).

    More importantly, using a week-to-view, you’ll find that you only have a few lines per day to note down your key achievements, which helps you to focus only on the things that really matter.

    What to do

    To start, take the first page of your diary or inside cover and list your goals so you’ll be able to quickly refer to them whenever you need a reminder of what you’re trying to achieve.

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    If you’re breaking these big goals down into weekly goals, you could write these across the top of each week in your diary.

    What to record

    Whatever your goals for the year, only record the tasks you’ve done that relate specifically to those goals. My main goals this year include running a marathon and writing at least 300,000 words.

    Each day I note how long I trained for, how many words I wrote and what I wrote them for (Lifehack or a blog post for example), along with anything else that supports those goals such as researching diet plans or brainstorming article ideas.

    What not to record

    You probably get through a lot of stuff during the course of an average day, but the idea of this exercise is to look at how much of that stuff is contributing to your goals. If you haven’t done much towards your goals, you may be tempted to fill your diary with other busy work to convince yourself that you’ve at least been productive.

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    Don’t, it doesn’t help.

    You may feel really proud that you spent all day cleaning your house from top-to-bottom and having a really good de-clutter, but unless one of your goals is to win the “Tidiest House in the World 2012 Award,” again, don’t put it down.

    What’s next?

    At the end of each week it pays to look back through your diary and review your progress. It’s always nice to look back and see that you’ve had a productive week working towards your goals, but your review should help you find room for improvement.

    If you haven’t written anything for a specific goal in a couple of days, is that a sign that maybe you need to work extra hard on that goal? Or maybe that goal wasn’t as important to you as you first thought and it’s time to reassess? If you notice that you haven’t been doing much goal-orientated work on a specific day each week, can you identify reasons for that and do something about it? If you’ve been cruising along nicely but haven’t seen much improvement, is now the time to think about taking things to the next level? Perhaps your training sessions for the last three weeks all ran to 30 minutes. Can you now maybe do 45 minutes?

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    If everything’s been going perfectly and you’ve been recording great progress with continual improvement, you can give yourself a firm pat on the back knowing that you’re well on course for great success in 2012.

    (Photo credit: Male hand drawing a chart via Shutterstock)

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    Chris Skoyles

    Coach, and trainee counsellor specializing in mental health and addiction.

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    1 The Lifehack Show: The Importance of Leadership (No Matter Who You Are) with Michael Bianco-Splann 2 Why Work Life Balance Doesn’t Exist (And How to Stay Sane) 3 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life 4 How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity 5 How to Live up to Your Full Potential and Succeed in Life

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    Last Updated on February 11, 2020

    Why Work Life Balance Doesn’t Exist (And How to Stay Sane)

    Why Work Life Balance Doesn’t Exist (And How to Stay Sane)

    If you’ve ever felt like work-life balance isn’t really possible, you may be right.

    Actually, I think work-life balance doesn’t exist. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a rising star in the corporate world, work is always going to overflow from your 9 to 5 into your personal life. And if you have ambitions of becoming successful in just about any capacity, you’re going to have to make sacrifices.

    Which is why, instead of striving for the unrealistic goal of “work-life balance,” I use a combination of rituals, tools, and coping mechanisms that allows me to thrive on a day-to-day basis.

    Of course, moments still arise when I may feel overloaded with work and a bit out of balance, but with these daily rituals in place, I am able to feel grounded instead of feeling like I’m losing my mind.

    Here are five daily practices I use to stay focused and balanced despite a jam-packed work schedule:

    1. Pause (Frequently!) to Remember That You Chose This Path

    Regardless of which path you take in life, it’s important to remind yourself that you are the one who chose the path you’re on.

    For example, one of the joys of being an entrepreneur is that you experience a significant amount of freedom. Unfortunately, in moments of stress, it’s easy to forget that choice goes both ways: you chose to go your own way, and you chose the obstacles that come with that journey.

    Remember: tomorrow, you could choose to leave your job, shut down your company, and go move to a farm in the middle of nowhere. The choice is yours.

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    Whenever I catch myself thinking, “Why am I doing this?” I simply remember, “Oh, wait. I chose this.” And if I want to, I can choose another option. But at this moment, I own it because I chose it.

    That simple mental shift can help me move from feeling out of control to in control. It’s empowering.

    2. Use ‘Rocks’ to Prioritize Your Tasks

    Sometimes having a to-do list is more overwhelming than it is helpful.

    The daily tasks of anyone in a high-stakes, high-responsibility role are never-ending. Literally. No matter how many items you check off your list, each day adds just as many new ones, and even after a full day it can often feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.

    So instead, I use “rocks”—a strategy I learned from performance coach Bill Nelson.

    Say you have a glass container and a variety of rocks, divided into groups of large, mid-sized, and small rocks, and then some sand. If you put the small rocks in first, you’re not going to be able to fit everything in your container. But if you put the big rocks in first, then the mid-sized, and, finally, the small, they’ll all fit. And at the end, the sand fills the extra space.

    The point of this strategy is to designate a handful of your biggest priorities for the week—let’s say five tasks—as the things you absolutely have to get done that week. Write them down somewhere.

    Then, even if you accomplish nothing else but those five things, you’re going to feel better, since you completed the important tasks. You’ve made progress!

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    Identifying your “rocks” is a better way of tracking progress and ensuring that you focus on the most critical things. You can create rocks on a weekly or even daily basis.

    Some days, when I’m feeling the most frenzied, I say to myself, “You know what? Let’s boil it down. If I accomplish nothing else today and I just do these three things, it will be a good day.”

    3. The PEW12 Method

    Of all the daily practices I follow, Purge Emotional Writing (PEW12), which I learned from Dr. Habib Sadeghi, is my favorite.[1]

    Here’s how it works:

    Pick a topic, set a timer for 12 minutes, and just write.

    You may be dealing with a specific issue you need to vent about, or you may be free-writing as emotions surface. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing or what your handwriting looks like, because you’re never going to re-read it.

    At the end, burn the pages.

    As the paper burns, you will feel all of those emotions you’ve just poured out either being reduced or dissipating completely. Both the writing process—which is literally unloading all of your unnecessary stuff—and the burning of the pages feel incredibly cathartic.

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    And you can do PEW12 as frequently or infrequently as you feel you need it—once, twice, or multiple times a day.  

    The reason I find this exercise so helpful is because, sometimes, I get in my head about a difficult issue or troubling interaction with someone, even when I know there is nothing to be done about it.

    But as soon as I do my PEW12, I feel a sense of relief. I have more clarity. And I stop circling and circling the issue in my head. It makes things feel resolved. Just try it.

    4. Set Sacred Time (Like a 20-Minute Walk or Evening Bath)

    Outside of work, you have to try to protect some time for restoration and quiet. I call this sacred time.

    For example, every single night I take a bath. This is a chance to literally wash off the day and any of the energy from the people, interactions, or experiences that I don’t want to take to bed with me.

    I actually remodeled a bathroom in my house solely for this purpose. The bath ritual—which includes Himalayan bath salts, essential oils, and a five-minute meditation—is the ultimate “me time” and allows me to go to bed feeling peaceful and relaxed.

    And while sacred time to end the day is crucial, I like to start the day with these types of practices, too.

    In the mornings, I take my dog Bernard for a walk—and I use those 20 minutes to set my intention for the day. I don’t take my phone with me. I don’t think about the endless to-do list. I just enjoy listening to the birds and breathing in the sunshine, while Bernard stops to say hi to the neighbors and their dogs.

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    These might seem like ordinary daily activities, but it’s the commitment to doing them day after day that makes all the difference.

    5. Forgive Yourself When You Fail to Use the Tools

    Sometimes our intention to follow “daily” practices falls flat. When this happens to me, I try not to beat myself up about it. After all, these things are tools to make me feel good. If they just become another chore, what is the point?

    At the end of the day, my daily practices don’t belong in my jar of rocks or on my to-do list or in my daily planner. They are there to serve me.

    If, for some reason, life happens and I can’t do my practices, I won’t feel as good. It’s possible I won’t sleep as well that night, or I’ll feel a little guilty that I didn’t walk Bernard.

    But that’s okay. It’s also a good practice to acknowledge my limits and let go of the need to do everything all the time.

    The Bottom Line

    For most people, accepting that work-life balance simply isn’t possible is the first step to feeling more grounded and in control of your life.

    Don’t waste your energy trying to achieve something that doesn’t exist. Instead, focus on how you’re feeling when things are out of balance and find a way to address those feelings.

    You’ll have a toolkit for feeling better when life feels crazy, and, on the off chance things feel calm and happy, your rituals will make you feel absolutely amazing!

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    Featured photo credit: Dries De Schepper via unsplash.com

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