For a lot of us, September marks the beginning of a new year more than the first of January.

It’s a time when we shift our mindset away from summer mode and start taking on new routines or pick up old ones, and are more likely to commit to getting stuff done.

It’s a good time to reassess and ask yourself: “Where do you want to go?, What do you want to accomplish?” You know deadlines and events are coming, so it’s a good time to decide what you’re willing to be proactive and be ready for–are you going to start Christmas shopping now or wait until December 24th? Do you really need to wait until January for cheap gym memberships to start your health and fitness goals?

This assessment goes beyond identifying a goal and writing it down. It requires taking one, two or maybe even three steps further to really examine the process required to reach the goals and each step that will get you there. If there are possible setbacks, anticipating them and coming up with an strategy to deal with them. Imagining the setbacks will help you prepare for them and set you up for success–hoping for the best often leads to derailment and defeat.

Invest now in the steps and if you do find yourself detoured, be willing to ask what happened, what’s the cost of going off track, was there any benefit, and how can you ensure it doesn’t happen again–take charge of your own journey.

For some, sticking with the process means having an incentive or goal post. It can be small, like your favourite tea at 2:00 pm or a manicure. Maybe reward is a bit bigger for those loftier goals – like pre-booking a trip to take once you’ve reached your goal (but must be cancelled or given away if you fail to reach it). For others, the incentive, might be an aversion to doing something. For example, committing to donating to the political party you like the least if you didn’t make your goals.

Another great way to stay accountable and grounded is to create space for regular reminders of what you are doing well and what you have to be thankful for. Sometimes we get so wrapped up chasing goals that we miss appreciating all the good around us. This is why I have a gratitude wall in my office. It helps me to appreciate and visually see things moving forward. It also helps define what are the Glass Ball Rubber Ball Theory in your life.

Let me explain. Rubber balls are those things that you can safely drop and have them return to you. Glass balls are those that will crack, scuff, chip or break and will never be the same  if you drop them. Having some recognition of what aligns most with your values will help to keep you focused on moving towards goals which keep those glass balls from dropping.

Often with a refresh or rejuvenation, we feel ready to take on everything–but it’s not always sustainable. Taking a run through a stress checklist from time to time can help prevent getting to the point where you are trying to do it all, all of time and keep you from being the glass ball that breaks or cracks.

If that happens, you’ll need to take a step back and ask what truly makes you happy and what will bring you back in alignment with your values. If you don’t know, then explore. Notice what peaks your interest. What do you find yourself talking about to friends with? What was a peak experience in your life that you keep going back to? Do you find yourself saying “I just need to….” a lot? Taking notice of how you end those sentences and what excites you to think or talk about will act like a beacon, helping you find your way. To figuring out the difference between rubber and glass.

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