Lifeticking

My tv antennae is broken. Life just got so much better.

August 30th, 2016 by Shane Maloney No Comments

Hi Lifetickers,

Close to a year ago, my tv antennae (or coaxial cable) failed to deliver a signal. At first I was mildly perturbed, but then I thought “I might just hold off on getting this repaired”. I was curious as to how long I could go without tv. It turns out, the answer was and is quite some time. Disclaimer: the Internet still offers many options for tv viewing. However, what’s interesting is how much easier it is to do more purposeful activity when the temptation is removed.

When it comes to goal setting, there are many simple daily events and routines that keep us from doing less than we’d hoped or aimed for. Sometimes, opportunities come along (like a signal-less tv) that should be jumped on because they make our goals slightly more achievable by removing the temptation to do less. In this instance, I didn’t have to actually actively do something to make it happen. However, there will be opportunities we can look for ourselves to remove small temptations that lead us to better habits. Every little bit helps so why not make the most of the little things.

You might ask: what have I gained since the box has been out of action? Well, firstly “watching tv for the sake of it” is completely gone and not even contemplated. Secondly, I am more conscious of what I do in the evenings. Is it more time with loved ones, more time reading, more time studying, more time in the garden or more time doing physical activity. All of these for me amount to a better outcome then sitting passively in front of the tv. But there will always be a time for downtime and that is part of our recharge, so we needn’t become too austere. At least now though, I can seek out programs I want to watch through the Internet and have a specific time to enjoy them rather than simply becoming entirely inactive and soaking up whatever is on offer.

Why not have a think about the temptations in your life that could be easily removed. Even removing one could lead to better outcomes for your goals and sense of being. Every day is a new opportunity to be more of who we want to be in life. Removing the temptations that prevent that is half the battle.

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Stuck in a rut? Move forward quickly with these tips…

July 30th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on Stuck in a rut? Move forward quickly with these tips…

Hi Lifetickers,

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut in life. There are many daily challenges that can seem daunting and insurmountable that push our minds and bodies into a state of inactivity and loss of hope. These are the times we need to work on our goals the most and stay true to the course, but it is the absolute most hardest time as well. Be they financial, work, relationship, study, spiritual or physical troubles, it can be enough to bring down the best of us and push us into a mindset of despair. So what can be done? Well, there’s a lot actually. And the key focus of this article lies in suggesting the little things. After all, from little things, big things grow.

#1 Make small decisions.

Often when faced with struggles the first hurdle to overcome is indecision. It can be crippling. Sometimes indecision can be a decision in itself. It means “no”. We need to be mindful that we might actually be indecisive and that’s ok. It’s part of the process. What we can do though, is make regular small decisions. Sometimes a big problem is a series of small actions. Equally, a big decision is a series of small decisions. I’ll use a simple analogy. Let’s say you are trying to train for a marathon. Rather than fear and face the most daunting of training schedules, decide to commit to just four days of training and re-assess. Just four. See how it feels. No commitment. And then in four days if you feel good, make another decision to do it for four more. Or six more. You decide. But always give yourself options. Maybe after a few of these you will feel better about your bigger commitment or it might make you realise that is a different focus you should have. Either way, by making small decisions you are giving yourself more control over achievable things. And that’s the key. Achievable. But perhaps a more complex analogy is required. Let’s say you have financial challenges. These are the worst. Focus on what is in your control. See if there is one saving you can make every week. Some small sacrifice. Make a decision to improve that metric daily. Is it not buying coffee in the morning? Is it saying good bye to a weekly online movie rental. Remember, always a small decision, but stick to it and then make another decision. Make the decisions for things that are in your control. Over time, you can then start to feel confident about the small steps you are taking so you are in a better frame of mind to handle the bigger challenges. Hopefully the financial savings you are making will start to ease your stress as well.

#2 Do small actions.

This is almost the same as above, but it’s worth mentioning. Do something, anything. Just get some motion. Because motion leads to momentum and momentum will break your rut. I’m often deterred from running because the first mile outside my door is nothing but hills. I hate it. But from then it’s easy. So, I committed to just going that mile and then coming back. But I’ve found the more I go out for the short run, the easier it is to extend it because it then becomes flat. Furthermore, as I’ve progressed, 2 miles have become 4 miles and it’s not that hard. Had I tried to face up to 4 mile runs then I would not be interested, but by chasing the small daily activity it got me moving, which made me feel good about it and then finally, it got me doing longer distances. I’ve never been opposed to the longer distance, I just hated the thought of hitting a hill first up. Remember, do anything you can however small because something is better than nothing. You might even walk around the block, but just getting yourself moving (literally or figuratively) in a forward direction no matter how small will reap far greater rewards. Just do something. It is the simplest, yet most effective way and if you can’t face up to the things you think you should do, then make the activity even smaller. Seriously, make it tiny. It can always grow from there.

#3 Do something different.

This might seem hard, but let’s face it, a rut is usually associated with the “same old”. If that’s the case, then just do something differently. Anything it all. And following on from #1 and #2 above, make the decision and do an activity no matter how insignificant. Maybe it’s driving home the scenic route once a week, maybe it’s not watching tv one night, maybe it’s fasting one day a week, or one meal a week. Maybe it’s calling a different friend for a chat every Sunday night. Maybe it’s changing the layout of your lounge room or bedroom. Just do something different! Let me give you an example by shedding some more light on my miserable fitness “regime”. It certainly ebbs and flows, but one of the irregular activities I’ve done is “pull ups” along with some other exercises. Now I’d usually do eight or 10 and think, ok, if I can do this (and the other exercises) daily then I should be feeling pretty strong. But daily is a challenge that I simply don’t live up to. And then after reading an article about a Navy Seal that said whenever you think you’ve reached your limit, your probably only at 40% of your capacity, it got me thinking. This business of eight pull ups is quite pathetic and really isn’t doing much if I don’t do it every day. So I decided to do it differently. As of this week, I decided every time I go down to the high bar I’ll do two more pull ups than I did on the previous occasion. Suddenly, the situation changed dramatically for me. Suddenly, it got a lot harder. But rather than being routine, it became an insane challenge. I mean, when does it stop? And the beauty is, the longer I leave it between sessions, the tougher it will get. So I’m now at 20 and if I don’t get down tomorrow and do 22 then Monday is going to be unpleasant. A simple change has had a profound impact on my attitude, motivation and ultimately ability to lift myself (literally) to greater achievements.

I hope you can perhaps start to think about the little decisions and actions you can do to lift yourself up. And to make it easier, do them a little differently too. As always, all the best with your goal setting and achieving. Remember, a decision no matter how small is better than no decision and an action no matter how insignificant is better than no action. Good luck and go for it.

 

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Goal setting for children

June 27th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on Goal setting for children

Hi Lifetickers,

More and more we receive enquiries from schools seeking to introduce their students to goal setting. In many ways, this is a great initiative as it is an excellent way to prepare students for life. Whether we regard them as “goals” or otherwise, there are many pursuits in life that benefit from a goal setting mindset: succeeding at sport, excelling in college, climbing the ladder at work, paying off a mortgage, raising children. Philosophically, one could argue that perhaps we let our children be children, but like most things there is a balance.

So what are the ways we can find that balance. Well, firstly, keep it simple. Secondly, think carefully about the S.M.A.R.T. methodology. This is something that kids can really benefit from as they are used to operating in a world of constraints and boundaries. Give them a clear goal and a clear benefit and they will thrive. Finally, give them hope. Focus on the goal being small enough and certainly “achievable”. For those families who give their children allowances or pocket money, encouragement of a financial goal could help their long term financial habits. Equally, a reward for a series of chores over a couple of months can easily be presented as a goal.

Ultimately though, this is about conveying the value of hard work. This is something that will never do a disservice to anyone. As the saying goes: Easy come, easy go. So too, do the fruits of hard work yield so much more than the initial reward. As parents, it is up to you how you prepare your children for the world ahead. But perhaps some small achievable goals will instil the values and mindset that can give them a sure footing for their first step.

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There’s more than achievement at stake

May 30th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on There’s more than achievement at stake

Hi Lifetickers,

Often our goal setting is a challenge that sees us longing for the final achievement. This can create enormous tension, stress and perhaps even a little anxiety about when we will get there if at all. Whilst a fundamental aspect of achievement is the journey itself, it is worthwhile to consider this more deeply so it doesn’t become a throwaway line or a cliche.

What is it about ourselves that we learn along the way? Do we even stop to think about that regardless of (and quite distinct from) the goal itself? Here are some things you might want to contemplate for more than the time it takes to read them:

  1. Discipline. One of life’s great virtues. The mere act of pursuing a goal requires discipline. It could be in our behaviour, our spending, our focus and of course our determination.
  2. Delayed gratification. So much if what we consume (be it food, entertainment or possessions) comes so easily now. Everything is a click away or a parcel delivery away. We’ve become so dependent on everything being “now” it actually is refreshing to have to wait for something. It makes you appreciate it all that much more.
  3. Patience. Following on from the first two points is patience. I recall a saying “I prayed for patience and God made me wait”. There is simply no better way to develop patience than to have to wait and persevere. It is like most things in life – it comes with experience.
  4. Understanding. When you have to work long and hard for something, you suddenly start to appreciate others that are in the same boat. What better way to connect with those around us than to appreciate, understand and empathise with them on their journeys.
  5. Character – Perhaps this might just be the sum of all the others, but it is worth calling out. When you think back to the challenges you had in your life, it is difficult to deny that they are in fact the very things that have shaped who you are right now. And yet, we try to steer clear of these challenges. The very things that enrich us are the things that are the toughest.

By all accounts, this is a short list. You could add many more items to it. But the theme remains the same. You will benefit from striving. And it doesn’t mean achieving a goal in order to realise that gain. We only have to embrace the opportunity and step forward. Give yourself an opportunity to experience more than you thought was on offer.

This leaves us with a simple question. What part of your character will you discover today?

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The “Moral Support” approach to goal setting

April 30th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on The “Moral Support” approach to goal setting

Hi Lifetickers,

Goal setting and achieving can be a lonely, lengthy and tiresome duty. Often we fail along the way or we lose inspiration and abandon hope of ever reaching our target. Other times, we can simply keep extending the deadline and so it drags on and on slowly losing its lustre. This of course, comes with the territory. If goals were easy they wouldn’t be goals, so we must at all times find ways to motivate and inspire ourselves to keep on keeping on.

One proven method is to enlist moral support. Whether it’s your spouse, partner, friend, mentor, sibling or coach, a “supporter” is someone who can help keep you accountable throughout the journey.  A supporter should be someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses. Someone who knows how to encourage and not discourage, is empathetic and finally, wants to see you succeed.

Your relationship should be an honest one. There is no point having a supporter if they can’t say to you “Gee Shane, you’ve been a little slack the last month. What can we do to turn it around?” But equally, if criticism is warranted then you want it to be constructive.

If you think your goal setting could benefit from a genuine supporter or two, then you also need to think about what commitment you want from them. Here are some things to consider:

  1. How often should they check in with you and your goals? e.g. weekly, monthly. Remember, you don’t want to place too big a burden on them?
  2. What are you looking for from them? e.g. Words of encouragement, analysis of performance, gentle reminders, discussion on overcoming stumbling blocks. Make sure you discuss this with your potential supporter so they are clear on your expectations before they commit.
  3. How long should they be expected to support you? e.g. a month, a year, for the duration of the goal itself. This is also important. Anyone can commit to a chat about something, but six months might be more than they can live up to.
  4. What’s in it for them? e.g. you’ll do something for them, payment or simply nothing because this is the kind of thing you do for each other. Again, be sure to be open about whatever the expectation is so your supporter knows exactly what the role is all about.

Finally, the good news is that Lifetick allows you to have supporters for your goals. All they need is a free Lifetick account and you can add them as a supporter. You can add as many as you like and it means they can check on the goal(s) you share with them and offer comments of support through the application itself.

So why wait? What are you struggling with right now? Think of who might be a great supporter for that goal and ask them. You never know what value they can provide. They too might need support in some areas in their own life!

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New beginnings…

March 27th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on New beginnings…

Hi Lifetickers,

Life is filled with new beginnings. New school, new job, new spouse, new child. At a grander level we have New Year for the western world and subsequently Chinese New Year for many in the east. Today, marks Easter, a celebration for Christians all over the world that also speaks to us of something new. What each of these occasions offers, be they small or large, is an opportunity to “begin again”.

Beginning again is a beautiful concept because it can never disappear or become irrelevant. There is always the opportunity to do it. Even if I were to begin again today, I could completely stuff it up and still begin again tomorrow. And the next day. What is important is that we let these events in our lives inspire us in some way so we have the mindset that wants to begin again.

Beginning again relates to many aspects of our lives. I think back fondly to the days when I played Rugby League (yes, that is different to Rugby Union, but I did in fact play both codes). We had a very wise coach who was able to impart to us and instil in us a mantra that was all about beginning again. It was inspiring in both its simplicity and its effect. He simply made sure we always said to each other “We score next”. Had he said “Don’t let them score” or “Don’t miss a tackle”, then our belief system would be shaken as soon as either one of those events occurred. (Not to mention, they were focusing on negatives and not positives). Instead, he had has looking forward no matter what the setback was on the field, no matter what the score was. It kept us focused and regardless of whether the opposition scored or we scored, we could still look each other in the eye and say “We score next”. We could just as easily have said to each other, “Let’s begin again”.

There will always be opportunities for you to begin again. All you have to do is to be open to them and embrace them.

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The “Small-Medium-Large” approach to goal setting

February 3rd, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on The “Small-Medium-Large” approach to goal setting

Hi Lifetickers,

This is the second in our series on goal setting approaches. If you missed the first, it was called the “Brain Dump” approach and we encourage you to read it. This one however is the “S-M-L” approach or more verbosely – the “Small-Medium-Large” approach.

Quite simply, this approach encourages you to introduce into your mindset the idea of having three concurrent goals and no more. By limiting to just three, you will have more focus and perhaps this will help you achieve all of them. As you can probably imagine, the S-M-L approach requires you have a small goal, a medium goal and a large goal. These aren’t necessarily sizes in terms of magnitude or difficulty, but rather time. It is more ideal if the Small goal is less challenging, but the imperative is that its achievement should be soon! The reasons they should all be based on time are as follows:

  1. The Short goal allows you to be working on something that will deliver a result soon. This means you get into the habit of logging into Lifetick and completing tasks. It also keeps you motivated because the likelihood of achieving the goal is high and the time to achieve it is within say three months. The sooner you see results, the more likely you are to be motivated to continue on your goal setting journey! What’s more is that as soon as you have completed your Small goal, you can immediately enter a new Small goal. Momentum is a wonderful thing. Which leads me to point number two,
  2. The Medium goal allows you to pursue something more meaningful in your life. Something that might require careful planning or a sustained effort of saving money. Typically, the duration is 6-12 months. This is long enough to require some ongoing effort, but not too long that it seems entirely unachievable or too far into the future to worry about. Its companion, the Small goal, will keep you returning to Lifetick again and again and this will ensure the Medium goal gets equal visibility. Visibility means “front of mind” and front of mind means more likely to do something about that next task for your Medium goal. The more we think and see and do things about these goals, the more real they become. And the more palpable and possible and exciting they become. Sometimes it’s not so much about physical effort, but mind effort and “visualisation”. Keep your Medium goal always in mind.
  3. The Large goal is the big one. The one you are afraid to start because it is so daunting. The one you perhaps dare not tell anyone in case they laugh at you. The one you think that in some ways might define you one day. It is also the one that you have time to nurture and grow and refine. The one you contemplate by day and dream about by night. It is the one you must capture in Lifetick most and just as the Small helps the Medium, so too does the Medium help the Large. I could repeat all the points in #2 above and they would all count, but there is an even great significance for capturing and working towards your Large goal. By the time you have entered, re-entered, refined, re-tweaked, re-imagined, re-tasked and actually completed some preliminary tasks of your Large goal, you will have actually completed several Small goals and perhaps one or two Medium goals. What this has done for you is create an environment and mindset of doing, achieving and believing. You have already begun to realise that these things can be achieved and for many of us that is half the battle. Without even realising it, your celebrations of completing the Small and Medium goals has given you the necessary fuel to keep on keeping on with your large goal. Of course it is hard work and it requires ongoing hard decisions, but it is something that you will have the time to devote to its crafting because first and foremost it is based on time. And time is on your side.

And so we have our S-M-L approach. Maybe we sometimes have an S-S-M-L or just an S-M, but as long as we have a mindset of S-M-L then we improve our chances of achieving the big things that matter to us. The good news for you is that Lifetick is free when you manage four or less goals, so what’s stopping you?

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The “Brain dump” approach to goal setting

January 14th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on The “Brain dump” approach to goal setting

Hi Lifetickers,

As mentioned in our recent post, we wanted to share with you a variety of approaches to setting your goals in Lifetick.  What I’ve found is that there is never a perfect way and quite often I personally will oscillate between extremes. Nevertheless, I think this can be a positive because it means your mind is finding ways to make it work which is the priority! Alternatively, it can mean we are finding ways to procrastinate or avoid facing the task of actually completing the tasks themselves!

So without further ado, let’s begin with what is perhaps the most common approach which I affectionately refer to as the “Brain Dump” approach. It begins with what is a fury of excitement and activity. This of course is a highly favourable disposition and mode of operation. Why? Because it means people are throwing all those loose ideas and long held dreams and aspirations into Lifetick in a blaze of glory. The key to this is to see it through. The more you put in the more a picture will begin to form and the more you will understand just how big this can be. Initially, this will be extremely appealing and will lead you to understand all the things that are important to you. In your exuberance, it’s likely you will:

  • Set quite a number of goals
  • Set aggressive timeframes for achievement
  • Put email reminders on all your tasks and
  • Log in each day and refine and add tasks and journal notes

Now this is a great start, but there are some risks. Very few people can actually sustain motivation and activity in this way.  Here’s where it gets troublesome:

  • There are just too many goals to manage and it seems overwhelming
  • In your earnestness to achieve, you are now getting a deluge of task reminders which then compounds if/when you miss due dates
  • You realise achieving goals is hard and start to have doubts about it all
  • You start to question which goals are actually important to you and finally
  • Your initial excitement starts to wane.

However, being aware of potential pitfalls will help you transition into a more sustainable way of working diligently (at a pace that suits you) to achieve your goals. The initial exuberance can now be converted into something more aligned to you and your way of working. It’s ok to face our limitations. It’s only when this happens that we know where they are and what it will take to extend them. So, how do we make this transition? Here are some tips:

  1. Review all your goals. If you have some doubts or misgivings, maybe push the due dates out or convert some to Dreams. This will immediately take the pressure off.
  2. Focus on your timelines for your remaining goals. How aggressive were they? Can you perhaps extend their due dates to give you more time?
  3. Make sure your tasks are granular. This will make each task easier to tick off as complete and give you a small sense of achievement and progress. Never underestimate these small wins.
  4. Review your reminders. Not every task need a reminder. Think about when you want a reminder for each task. Some only need a reminder on the day, whereas others that take some effort might need a reminder a week before. Mixing up the reminders has the added benefit of creating diversity which ensures your brain doesn’t go into auto-pilot when receiving them. This means you are more likely to pay attention to the reminder because you have to think for an extra few seconds about when the task is due and what needs to happen before then.
  5. Add a note in your journal every time you log in. Sometimes when reviewing goals there are no actions to do, e.g. tasks to complete. Rather than feel you have logged in for nothing, add a short journal note every time you log in. This will 1) give you an action to do, 2) crystallise your thoughts because you are taking time to write them down and 3) build a great habit – journaling.

The most important thing about goals is they are not set and forget. They are likely to change and evolve and therefore, this should be embraced. The more time you spend thinking about them and working toward them, the more you will come to understand what is actually important to you. Sometimes, some things we thought were really important just aren’t. Likewise, other pursuits become even more important to us the more we think and work toward achieving them. I love the Brain Dump approach because it really clears the head and gets it all out there. But like everything in life, it is something that needs constant refining, revisiting and reimagining. So don’t lose heart if it isn’t perfect from day one. It’s not meant to be!

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…and we’re back!

December 30th, 2015 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on …and we’re back!

Hi Lifetickers,

You may have been wondering why we’ve been silent for so long. Well, I think it’s two fold. Sometimes it’s difficult finding something original to say. Presenting a perspective that’s new and fresh is important to your readers. Anything less is an injustice, insult or sheer waste of people’s precious time. Secondly, work and life can get in the way, thus limiting the time it takes to actually develop those fresh thoughts. Nevertheless, we’ve had a chance to withdraw from the online chatter for awhile now and are looking forward to sharing some new ideas and approaches with you. As always, we remain true to our topic – goal setting and achieving.

Having conceived Lifetick over eight years ago and since used it to tick off many of my own goals along the way all the while corresponding with many hundreds of users, it is nice to be able to reflect and share what I guess amounts to a large body of knowledge. Of course goal setting is always different for everyone, but what doesn’t change is the effort it takes.

People I meet are often fascinated by Lifetick and the ideas underpinning it. Some see it as a silver bullet to all their worldly needs, others a handy tool. One good friend thinks of it as nothing more than a glorified pen and paper and enjoys telling me so. Regardless of these very diverse opinions, the reality is the same for all – if you want to achieve something great, then your success is largely a measure of your effort and commitment to that outcome. Will Lifetick help you? That depends on you. Here’s why.

Lifetick is what I call an “aspirational product”. It’s not mission critical, it’s not checking your calories burned or steps taken every second of every day. It is something more though. And by being something more it requires more. More from you. You have to find a reason to make Lifetick a part of your life. You have to find a way to make checking in each day or week a habit and an important part of your life. What will that reason be? Again, it’s different for everyone. But here’s the catch…

If you don’t find that reason then your usage of Lifetick, your focus on achieving important things in life, your commitment to excellence, your belief of who you wanted to be when the New Year comes round will slip away. And indeed it does. I know because I have the wonder of “usage statistics” at my disposal and they tell a very brutal story. As they say “Don’t become a statistic!” This is very true for Lifetick.

So you must be wondering why all the tough talk? Well, I’m interested in helping people achieve their goals, not drift off into fantasy. And the best way I know how to do that is to first set expectations. Over the coming months I will give you every possible tip I know to give you the best chance to achieve. But right now, the most important thing you can do is make a commitment to yourself. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be achievable. Start small and grow from there. One step then the next. That is how all journey’s begin and end.

If this is your first time to Lifetick, then welcome. If you are someone like me who has been using it for many years, then I’m very happy that we are still here together. I wish each and every one of you the very best for 2016. I wonder what our conversation will look like in 12 months time?

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A year to remember, a year to forget?

January 3rd, 2015 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on A year to remember, a year to forget?

Hi Lifetickers,

After a lengthy absence from the blogosphere, we’re happy to announce our return and of course a happy new year to you as well. As always, thank you for your support. We hope Lifetick is serving you well as you enter a new year filled with hopes, dreams and aspirations. With that in mind, today’s blog is about reflection on what has gone before and how it has the power to shape what will come.

Often we can be quick to forget about what we have been through in an attempt to release ourselves from the pain and suffering associated. Nevertheless, these experiences are those that shape us the most. I am a great believer that everything is learned in failure. But there is more to it than that. I’m reminded of a brilliant quote from Aldous Huxley:

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all lessons that history has to teach.”

Simple yet profound and certainly something worth bearing in mind as we mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves for the year ahead. It is not just our own experiences, but those of people around us, the work place and at a global level that have the capacity to impact us not just indirectly, but often very directly.

Perhaps in thinking about your goals for the next 12 months, one simple exercise could be to think of three things first:

1) What have I learned about myself the last 12 months?

2) What have I learned about the world in the last 12 months?

3) What have I learned about the nature of humanity in the last 12 month?

Why consider these things? Well, at a practical level the answers may in fact impact your priorities. But at a deeper level it may just help you determine whether the goals you had in mind are the right ones for you.

Regardless, of your approach we wish you the best of luck. The process of setting and achieving goals is as much about the journey as it is about the destination, so find a way to appreciate the journey because it will be tough, but it will be worth it.

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