Forward thinking: Avoiding regrets in 2018

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I began working on my 2018 goals in early December. In retrospect, it seems like the time lapse was a lot longer than a little over a month… but the final days of 2017 were quite full and overflowing.

You might be working on your list of goals for the New Year or perhaps you have completed the task – if so, good for you. My guess is that you might be thinking of some lofty goals like changing jobs, increasing your income or going back to school to complete a degree or earn a new one.

All of that is good. Go for it. But don’t neglect the areas you’ll regret the most if you fail to give them your attention.

It’s simple to slip into that trap. We like winning – we’re good at winning – and our focus tends toward what we’re good at. The bad news is that we sometimes do it at the expense of other areas that are actually more important… at least I have that tendency.

In the final days of 2017, I spent some time reading about “regret.” Frankly, it was sobering. Whether it was people on their deathbeds or powerful leaders looking back on successful careers, some common regrets came up again and again. I wish I had:

• Spent more time with family members.
• Built good/stronger friendships.
• Taken better care of my health.
• Diversified my leisure time activities.

It’s easy for these things to slip unless one is intentional… at least it is for me.

Over the last several years, there has been a lot of talk about “work-life” balance. The distinction between “work time” and “personal time” gets fuzzier and fuzzier. And I am one who struggles in an attempt to maintain that balance. You may be as well.

There are great opportunities here. We can take better advantage of our most creative moments, fit work where it works best and so on. However, there are also great risks.

For example, you might work on a freelance project while your much-needed vacation vanishes. You might stay on top of your e-mail by skipping the gym or skimping on sleep. You might take care of calls in the evening while your loved ones sit in the other room, waiting to see your face.

Maybe that works for you. Or maybe you are setting yourself up for some big regrets. We’ve ALL done it. But I say 2018 is the year it stops.

It doesn’t have to be either/or. You don’t have to achieve success at the expense of your loved ones, social life, spiritual life and your health. What if 2018 could be your best year ever – not just for your career, but every area of your life?

Maybe you only have a blind spot in one area. Great. Make this the year you really excel there. On the other hand, maybe you have neglected several important areas of your personal life and could benefit from renewed attention in the coming year. You might find a priority plan helpful. Work on those with the greatest degree of urgency.

If you are a professional, regardless of your area of expertise, one of your competencies lies in influencing others toward professional victories. But don’t neglect the personal wins. We have to lead ourselves first.

Some of you know that I am an only child. You may also know that both of my parents were only children as well. Both of them worked full time all the years that I lived at home. While I never really doubted that they loved me, we were not a close family.

My father died in 2015 at the ripe old age of 91. When I went to take care of his burial details, I had a conversation with a man who had been a friend of my father over the years. In a private conversation, he shared with me that my father had confided to him that he “regretted” spending so much time at his business and not more with his wife and son.
If you’ve tried and failed to make progress toward personal goals in the past, it is easy to approach this kind of thing with a sense of dread or even defeat. But don’t. You only have one life to live. Make the most of it. Act while you can.

Don’t waste the best moments of your life ignoring the best things in your life. 2018 is the year to get intentional about becoming the person you want to be without multiplying “regrets.”

Until next time…

Loren (1)–By Loren Simmonds

Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 35 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years and is currently a member of the Lynnwood Civil Service Commission. Loren works as a consultant, writer, speaker and trainer. He is also a member of the Lynnwood Parks and Recreation Foundation.

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