So what does the title mean? Are you your best right now? How many listeners believe they are their best self, right now?
Let’s change the question: How many here believe they are better than they were a year ago? That’s a better question. But we still aren’t our best yet. Why?
Part of it is the fact that most people continue to improve, at least in some facets of their lives, almost until the end. So by a technical definition, you cannot be your best until you are no longer improving.
But that’s a technicality. Let’s agree than “Best” is an illusory concept, and that what we really mean is “Be All You Can Be”—no, that was taken by the US Army. How about “Become What You Want to Be.” I like that last one.
“Become What You Want to Be”.
What would it take for you to believe—no, more than believe, to KNOW—that you are your best? In other words, what do you want to be? If you cannot honestly answer that question, then my work is done. It’s hard to become something if you don’t know what that something is.
Take a few seconds to visualize what your life would look like if you actually became the person you want to be.
What did you see? More importantly, how did that make you feel?
Let me tell you a quick story before we move into the actual work part of the “workshop.”
In 2005 I was unhappy. I had a position with an insurance company, performing a job that I didn’t really enjoy, one that seemed to be a quagmire of stagnation. I had no self-control. I ate too much. And I weighed in excess of 295 pounds. On a flight with my wife, I actually could not get the seat belt to latch across my belly. And I was too proud to ask for a seat-belt extension, so I flew unsecured. I was willing to risk my life due to my pride.
That’s okay. Someday, I will lose weight.
In 2006, I needed knee surgery due to obesity. I was told I needed to lose weight. I will. Someday.
In 2007, we adopted our little pug, Ozzy. It was difficult for me to walk him to the dog park, because it was three blocks away. I needed my inhaler to breather better. That’s okay. Someday.
But finally, I had my wakeup call. I was an ER nurse, and I cared for a patient who was my age, and my size, admitted for a heart attack. At the time, I was 45. I couldn’t walk the length of a hallway without breaking a sweat and a flight of stairs are nearly impossible. I could not work on the code team, because I couldn’t get up the stairs fast enough.
Suddenly, I realized that someday needed to become today, or I might next on that gurney. What had changed? I finally had a reason that made me act. That reason was fear, and while it is a negative motivator, it made me change.
On July 28, 2008, I asked my wife for help. With her help, we started to change our lives. We ate differently. We walked more. And we did that together.
On January 20, 2012, I weighed 199 pounds. I slowly dropped to a low of 180 pounds. As of today, I weigh 201 pounds.
What happened? I got scared. But I made a decision. And I asked for help. And I never quit. I am becoming who I wanted to be.
Not everyone wants to, or needs to lose weight. But everyone has that thing, that one gleaming dream, that image of who they really are. You probably have it carefully stored in a box, hidden deep inside your spirit. Maybe you look at it in secret on occasion. And you probably all think, “Someday….someday” and then you carefully rewrap your dream and return it to storage.
We need some roadmaps. These are just like the maps you use when on vacation, but instead a roadmap for your life. When you go on vacation, you know where you are starting, and the destination, and also how the route you will take.
It is probably rare that people hop in their car and just drive somewhere. We want to know where we are going and when we will arrive. That’s just how it is.
This room is filled with people who have accomplished great things, achieved high levels of education. And I am confident that there are more than a couple in here who think, “But someday, I’ll become what or who I want to be.”
So….what path will you take to arrive at your “Better You?” Take a sheet of paper. Divide it into four quadrants. At the center of the page, write today’s date.
In the upper left quadrant, add the label “Lifetime”. In the upper right, “Three Years”. Lower left, “One Year”. Lower right, “Three Months.” Now here is your first short assignment.
Open that secret storeroom! Throw the doors wide open. For the next five minutes, don’t look at those dreams, goals, and aspiration and think “Someday” but instead just think “Yes!” Write down every goal, dream and hope you really, really want.
And yes, be unrealistic! Let your mind wander down paths that you thought were long overgrown. Write your goals—your descriptions of “Your Best You” in the quadrants that you believe to be the most accurate time frame.
Don’t judge. Don’t justify. Don’t list in order of importance or likelihood. Just write down all your dreams. How do you feel about what you wrote down?
Did anything that you wrote scare you? Did you write down something that made you feel a little queasy in your stomach or think “I’m crazy for even writing this?” Yes? That is awesome! Anything that scares you is something to truly consider as being a worthy goal.
All right we now have a list of dreams and goals, our adult wish list to send to Santa. Excellent! You have the beginning of your life’s roadmap. You now can see what your “Better You” will look like, and will do. We know where you want to be, not “Someday”, but in 3 months, 1 year, 3 years. That’s wonderful!
But here is the next assignment. Which are the goals that need our greatest focus? Because as much as we want it all, we usually can’t do everything. Not all at once, at least.
Here is your second assignment. Look at the descriptions of your “Better You.” You know that you cannot tackle all of those goals. Rather than prioritizing each, which can sometimes be very difficult, let’s make it very simple.
In each quadrant, circle the one item that will have the greatest positive affect on your life. The goals you circle do not need to be related to each other. It’s hard to do many things. But we can always do that one thing. So, you have one minute to identify your top four Priorities. Go!
How do you feel right now? Scared? Empowered? Bold? I am asking you to put yourself out beyond where you live right now. That can be frightening. You never learned how to ride a two-wheeler by keeping the training wheels on, right?
Now for the next step. And this is the big one! Let’s tackle your “Game Changer!”
How many of you are Green Bay Packers (NFL football) fans? Good, me too! I live in Green Bay; it is a city law. Almost.
Remember the Packer’s “Game Changer” of last season? The Packers are in Miami, trailing by 4 points. They are on the 15 yard line with 30 seconds left in the game and no time outs. Aaron Rogers needs to spike the ball to stop the clock and give them a chance to plan their final plays. He steps up to the line and spikes it….but not really. Rookie Davante Adams runs down the sideline towards the goal line and Rodgers throws him a quick pass as he get pushed out of bounds at the 3 yard line, stopping the clock. On the next play, Aaron Rodgers throws a touchdown pass to the tight end Andrew Quarless to win the game.
That one play changed the outcome of that game. It was as if the first 59 and a half minutes didn’t exist. What is YOUR Game Changer?
Look at your four circled goals. Which of those will have the greatest and most immediate positive affect on your life, if it was already achieved RIGHT NOW? Take a second sheet and choose your Game Changer. If you are not sure which will have the greatest and most immediate positive affect, simply write the circled Three Month Goal in the center of the page.
What is the next step? This one will take more time. We cannot do it all here right now, but we can start. Knowing what you want is easy. Achieving it takes the right effort.
I wanted to lose a lot of weight. I did not focus on one hundred pounds (my initial ultimate goal.) I focused on my next meal. Then my next day. I looked at a series of small successes, which I was able to build into my final goal. You need to identify the steps that need to be taken to achieve each of these life goals. We need to be SMART as we do this.
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Results Based
- T = Time limited
When we create our action plan, we need to me as concrete as possible. If your one year goal is to “publish a cookbook”, your action step will not be “make progress every day.” That is not specific. Nor measurable. Nor results-based, or time limited. It is achievable, but that is only one piece of the puzzle.
No, instead I would list “Write 500 words a day, every morning before going to the office.” You’d be surprised how quickly you can write five hundred words when you set a goal like that.
For a more detailed discussion of SMART goals, listen to MYST episode 67 or http://makeyoursomedaytoday.com/Smart
What benchmarks need to be met to reach your goal? Start listing the first steps that you must do in order to start making progress toward your Game Changer. Be specific! This will take longer, and some steps will have substeps. We are actually creating a mind map for our goals. This will stretch your comfort zone a bit, but humor me. This works!
When you have all steps listed (and you may need to complete this at home) attach a due date to each so that you commit to completing this. My students need due dates, right? So do we.
Okay, we have done a lot today, and I know that you will finish this assignment. You chose to spend your free time here. You want to become your best self. You are motivated to work toward the goals you find important. I believe in you. I know you can succeed!
On the MYST main web page will be the podcast logo and to the right of that logo you will see a box that reads “The Varsity Squad.” Click on it, and it will bring you to an application form. I only need your first name and email address. That will bring you up from Trevor’s Team to the Varsity Squad. When you do that, I will send you digital copies of the documents that we have been using, as well as an added SMART GOAL worksheet for personal or team use.
Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com
Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voiceover work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. And you can read his really nice, contemplative blog. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!
Some links (but not all) within these show notes may be Affiliate Links, meaning that I may receive a small commission when readers click on them and then purchase something. This does not increase your cost at all, but it does help me cover some of the cost associated with this podcast. Thanks!