Regular readers will know I am on a self-help kick. A friend of mine recommend this one to me, and I found it pretty good – it’s a straightforward guide to trying to decide on your goals. As Ditzler puts it:
After the initial spurt of growing up and becoming an adult, most of us don’t stop to think about goals in the same serious way we did when we carefully planned our education, our career, our first place away from our parents. We begin to ‘follow our noses’, reacting to circumstances . . . Time goes by and soon we begin to feel our lives are out of control and there’s nothing we can do about it. Things which matter most to us aren’t getting enough attention and life gets frustrating. We feel we are no longer in charge of our own lives.
It’s broadly framed as a workshop to do at new year, though you can do it anytime, and is structured around ten questions. The first are about reviewing the year past. She claims:
Almost without exception, people’s initial thoughts about the past are negative. . . Unless we stop to think about what really happened, we assume that there is far greater cause for disappointment than celebration
I found this to be shockingly true. I was amazed to see how much more I had achieved in the last year than I had failed at. Indeed, one of the more interesting parts of the book is not just doing the questions but hearing the author’s review of the many people she has seen answer the questions.
She provides a structured set of ways of thinking about your life, which I found quite useful, and various examples of how people succeeded by being pragmatic in their approach. I was tempted to eyeroll, but was stopped by:
. . . take note if you find it much harder to believe these experiences than the earlier examples of peoples’ problems
Her guidance to getting your goals is something she has rather clunkily branded “Gold Time” self management, where you carve out time to focus on what is important but not urgent, which she argues is the stuff that most frequently drops off our list, but is in fact the stuff we should absolutely be doing to actually be in charge of our lives.
To my mind, figuring out what you want in the first place is much harder than actually executing it, but still, it was an interesting way of thinking about your priorities.
I recommend this book and have tried to put some of its steps into practice. It is remarkably difficult to give up one’s prejudice against self-help. The author notes:
Most of us trap ourselves by not being willing to take the necessary steps to be the master of our own lives, yet we’ll be damned if we’ll let anyone or anything serve as our master in the meantime! The result- no one’s in charge. We get nowhere. Every bit of true progress I’ve made in my life has come from really listening to a teacher or an author and having the discipline to practice his or her lessons until I have learnt them. Action and follow-through are everything.
I may as well try someone else’s approach. It’s not as if mine is working so well.