February’s Theme: Execute Your Goals

More signs of change in our garden. Peony buds.

It’s a new month and a new organizing theme here at Ruly. My random Internet searchings last month brought me to a Wikipedia article on the history of the development of the modern day calendar. With great interest, I learned that the month of February is named after the festival of Februa (later named Lupercalia) which was all about purification and purging. Wikipedia describes the purpose of these festivals as “to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility.” Now it would have been Ruly if the festivals were all about storage systems and cleaning house but the real festival was about animal sacrifice and naked men running through the city in animal skins striking people with thongs for good luck. More interesting certainly but how all of that related to purifying the city and releasing health and fertility is not exactly clear to me!  With that historical tangent aside, we press on in our organizing efforts.

Last month, we discussed goals and if you have been reading along, you should have your list of 2012 goals. You may have even started in on these goals. You may have even started and then neglected these goals. How do we transform these vague goals into measurable actions? In short, as Toby Keith put it, we need “a little less talk and a lot more action.” This month’s theme will address various ideas to help you execute your goals.

How are my own goals coming along? As you may recall, my theme word for the year is energy. I have had some success with my individual goals but one noticeable failure. For the past several days, I have complained to my husband:

“I’m so tired.”

Now, while it may be true and even expected of a busy mother of three/blogger/homeschooling teacher, what kind of “energetic” person goes around saying, “I’m so tired.” No one. What good is this phrase doing? Not much.

There are only three possible responses to this statement:

  1. “You poor thing.” (or its cousins “Sorry to hear that.” and “I’ll bet.”)
  2. “Join the club.”
  3. “Why don’t you lie down and take a nap?” (my husband’s practical suggestion)

I realized that none of these responses is what I want. With regard to the first response, I am not seeking pity from anyone. I don’t think my life is harder than anyone else’s and in many respects, I have an easy and enjoyable life. With regard to the second response, I am doing nothing to energize people around me by saying this. All I am doing is reminding everyone of the obvious and the negative and who looks forward to hanging out with a “tired” person? What parent isn’t tired? With regard to the third response, I am not primarily physically tired but mentally tired.

So why I am going around saying “I’m so tired.” if it is doing nothing for me and is likely putting me in an un-energized state of mind? After some thinking and observation about when I am saying this and what circumstances make me say this, I realized it tends to happen the most when what I really mean to say is, “I am dreading doing ______ that I need to do right now.” Now if I said what I really meant, perhaps the people around me could respond with helpful suggestions about how they overcome that situation, which is far more beneficial than just dragging everyone down with “I’m so tired.”

So, while I can’t promise I will never say, “I’m so tired.” again, I am going to start saying instead:

“I am trying to summon the energy to _______________.”

There are many simple language and behavior changes like this that would make a huge difference in our lives but we don’t realize that we need to do them unless we are focusing some attention inwardly. Today’s execution tip is about those small changes.

Ruly Challenge: Is your choice of words or behavior sabotaging progress toward your goals? Pay attention to the moments when you have the opportunity to make progress toward your goals and you choose not to. What are you saying to yourself or those around you at those moments? How are you behaving? Could you make a small change that might encourage others around you to offer help and support?

Have you had any success turning a negative behavior into a positive one? Please share in the comments.