Life Goals: Checking in When the Seasons Change

By Stacie Prada

When summer turns to fall, a sense of routine and normalcy seems to return to my life. Kids are back in school, my coworkers and I are done with big vacations, and we’re all ready to get back to work. This year it occurred to me to start reflecting on this year and planning for next year earlier than usual. I think this might be a terrific time of year to assess what I’ve accomplished, what I want to accomplish before year end, and what I want to accomplish in my life as a whole.

Much like the beginning of the school year with class plans and schedules, this is a natural time of year to approach as a check in point and beginning.  I usually reflect on my life and create New Year’s resolutions in December and January.  It works, but with the holidays and so many extra obligations and erratic scheduling, it’s sometimes difficult to find time.  In September, there’s less of a deadline and more of an organic opportunity to check in.

My method is pretty structured.  Okay, I’ll admit it’s probably very structured.  Yours doesn’t need to be like mine at all.  Just stopping for a moment and considering our lives periodically is helpful to prevent one year from blending into the next and time seeming to pass us by.

That said, I’ll share mine in hopes it spurs your own imagination for how you do it differently and might want to modify it.

I listed things I love and bring me purpose, and I’ve created a vision of what I want my life to be.  These lists have stayed really consistent over many years.  I organize my goals by categories of my life that are important to me. The categories are similar each year, but the goals I have within each category change a bit as I change.  I use these goal items to decide what I’ll do each year to achieve these goals.

Things I Love/Purpose:

  • Be healthy, organized, prepared, and financially well-off.
  • Enjoy life, make things easier where I can, and spend energy and time on things I love or enjoy.
  • Build and enjoy relationships
  • Feel useful, contribute to society.

Vision:

  • Be as healthy as I can be. Strong, fit, flexible and energetic.
  • Have a home that is relaxing and company ready anytime.
  • Explore interests and follow them.
  • Be excellent with my career and enjoy it.
  • Be financially responsible, and prepare for retirement and possible disability while enjoying today.
  • Do things now that I want to do and that I may not be able to do in the future if I lose mobility.
  • Cultivate good relationships with people I care about and care about me.
  • Express myself creatively with photography, art and writing.

Life Goals & Categories:

  • Health & Fitness: Improve strength and endurance. Be consistent with daily fitness, nutrition and self-care.
  • Relationships: Call, visit, and connect.
  • Finances: Be organized. Purge what doesn’t need to be kept.
  • Home: Continue improvements, streamline things to make it easy to care for and keep clean.
  • Creativity: Continue blog and cultivate writing skills, take photos and work on projects.
  • Travel/Adventure: See family, explore new places and experiences.
  • Career: Drive the office forward, accept new roles, cultivate working relationships and keep learning.

Plan:

This gets pretty personal, so I’m not going to share my list as is. I will share some of the items on the list to give an idea of how I do it.

  1. Visit family, attend my high school reunion, and do a 14er hike.
  2. Write a monthly blog post.
  3. Take pictures and organize them.
  4. Work on kitchen remodel, try to finish before year end.
  5. Go to concerts, plays and museums.
  6. Maintain financial system, filing, purging and paying bills on time.
  7. Complete health insurance online health assessment to make sure my out of pocket is the minimum possible next year.
  8. See my neurologist and get MRIs annually. Take medications and supplements consistently.
  9. Have a daily stretching routine and stay active. Do a mix of short and long workouts weekly.

Reflecting on my life vision and the goals I’ve set for myself was an extremely motivating exercise for me.  Doing it in September instead of December or January allowed me to see how much I’ve done and decide what I still want to do with the months remaining in this year.  It showed me what may need to move to next year or come off the list entirely.

I think putting our goals on paper or in a computer document is a terrific way to see how much we change over the years and how much we don’t.  The thought process of putting a task to things we value in life provides clarity for where we have control in our lives.  For me, it shows how consistent my values and preferences have remained.  It feels good to look at how far I’ve come and recognize how much my life has become what I envisioned years ago.  It feels great to see that I’ve built a base that makes me happy and may allow me to do so much more in the years to come!

*Stacie Prada was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 at the age of 38.  Her blog, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing” is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help her adapt, cope and rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/ 

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As a national nonprofit organization, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a toll-free Helpline; award-winning publications including a magazine, The Motivator; website featuring educational videos and research updates; S.E.A.R.C.H.™ program to assist the MS community with learning about different treatment choices; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; a resource database, My MS Resource Locator; equipment distribution ranging from grab bars to wheelchairs; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; educational events and activities; MRI funding and insurance advocacy; and more. For additional information, please visit http://www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

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