DEAR READERS: Welcome to 2017! We have reached a turning point in our lives. I find it helpful to pause for a moment, take a look back and then plan for the future so that each step can really count. For many of us, 2016 was a tumultuous year. Between personal obligations, family commitments, political volatility and economic pressures, many Americans felt significant discomfort in the past year. Many of us got caught up in the news cycle of the presidential election season, which left people on all sides feeling stretched and more than a bit bruised. I have listened to hundreds of people talk about what they think Americans should be doing versus what we have been doing -- on a wide variety of fronts.
That is what I want to address now. The one thing that we can control is ourselves. The reality is that it is hard to stay in control of our thoughts, words and deeds all the time. It takes tremendous focus and commitment to stay on track. Think about how often you may have promised yourself to engage in a fitness plan only to fall off in a month. Or what about when you pledged to save money out of every paycheck only to stop that automatic deposit when you needed some extra cash? Or when you said you would write a thank-you note to your neighbor who helped you when you were in great need? Or when you didn't like something that your local or national government did and you thought to write a letter in opposition, but you didn't?
What if you actually did what you said you were going to do? What if each of us took the time to figure out exactly where we stand on the issues that matter in our lives, and then decided to take specific action that could affect outcomes? What if we accepted responsibility on a consistent basis for what we think, say and do?
I am saying this as one who has lived through all of these "what ifs" in the past, sometimes being consistent, often not. I know from personal experience that when I stay focused on a goal and complete it, I feel much better about myself, and I get things done. So, I want to recommend to all of you, to all of us, that keeping a written daily plan along with a broader monthly plan will help us to reach our goals. I write down categories: PERSONAL, FAMILY, WORK, HOME, FRIENDS. Under each category, I break it down into manageable parts. For example, when I wasn't calling my mother enough, I added "Call Mama" daily. And, voila, I started to do it. For health, I added a daily "Drink water." For work, because I have multiple projects going at a time, I make subdivisions that give each project its own space. Carving your duties and interests into manageable parts helps you to be poised for success. And then, when we get to the end of this year, we can all point to specific successes that we have achieved on multiple fronts. Want to try it?
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)