M aking W ish L ists and D iscovering W hat ’ s I mportant 3 Lega l Pads and a Lot of Ref l ec t i on W hile most people take the month of January to record their resolutions for the upcoming year, I’ve structured my goal-setting process slightly different. Instead of waiting for the new year to kick off, I view December as the optimal time for evaluation and foresight. I needed to leave the office by 5:30. As an attorney, I couldn’t simply leave the office earlier; my clients would suffer. In the end, I had to start going into work an hour earlier to maintain the balance between time spent with clients and time spent with my son.
Going in an hour earlier might seem like a small tweak, but it actually caused a major behavioral change in my daily habits. I candidly admit I’m not a morning person, so I had to make some personal adjustments and force myself to get out of bed in the morning. Additionally, I had to force myself to go to bed earlier. All of this allowed me to take my son to his practices, and it was one of my favorite parts of the day. Those subtle (but difficult) habit changes were necessary in order for it to happen. I’ve explained the purpose of my first two legal pads thus far, but my third pad is equally if not more important. It contains my wish lists of years past. As I sit down to make new goals, I take stock of my previous ones and note whether I achieved them. If I didn’t, I question whether I should keep them on the list for the upcoming year. If I decide to keep them, I put an “R” next to it for “repeat.” Some I’ve kept on repeat for over 20 years. In fact, they’ve become a way of life for me. The three wishes that stay on top of the third legal pad with an “R” next to them every year are God, family, and work. I’ve decided that if I’m serving all three, I know where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing. Of course, there are always extras that I want to sneak in, such as watching more college football or playing my guitar more often. But those extras can’t make it into the mix if I haven’t taken care of my core three. With a busy practice, a wonderful wife, and two young children, I simply can’t do more than those three, but truthfully, I am the happiest I’ve ever been because of it. They are based on true joy, and life just doesn’t get better than that. –Gary Christmas
I start by taking out three legal pads. On the first, I create a wish list of experiences, things, or objectives I really want: a family vacation, more time off spent with friends, a new car, etc. Generating a list of goals that are fun and fulfilling gets me motivated for the more pragmatic aspect of the goal-setting process and the behavioral changes necessary to achieve them. It creates a buzz in my brain and gets me excited for the new year. On the next pad, I ask myself, “What are some of the things I need to do personally or professionally to work toward the items on my wish list?” For most of the items, I know I’ll have to make small but necessary behavioral changes in order to make any progress. In December of 2018, one of the items scribbled across my first legal pad was “Spend more time with my kids.” I took out my second pad and started brainstorming ways I could reach that goal. At the time, my son was playing travel soccer. I decided that I wanted to drive him to practice every evening so we could share some quality father/son time. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. His practice started at 6:30 every night, and in order to get to my house, pick him up, and take him to practice,
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