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So, you've reached the end of another year and you might be wondering what you have to show for it.

What happened to all those plans you boldly made on January 1st? When you reflect, you may feel you were totally committed to meeting them. You kept your goals realistic and broke them down into actionable steps. Somewhere along the way, they drifted away. Right?

Maybe not. Most likely, excuses such as not having enough time, your family needing you or putting in extra hours to avoid being laid off during the recession became the reason for your goals slipping away. In essence, they fell victim to your inability to master time. Every year, thousands of people seek out help from a life coach, counselor or other professionals to help them manage their time. Clearly, it’s a common struggle and one that interferes with you meeting your goals and that is often misinterpreted.

As Roger and Rebecca Merrill point out in their groundbreaking book "Life Matters," most people believe they can enjoy a balanced home or family life, or be successful at work — but not both. However, they don't buy it. And, as co-founder of the Covey Leadership Center, Roger knows a thing or two about what he's selling. The duo recommends viewing life as a dynamic equilibrium between work, family, money — and time. They're all rewarding, interrelated parts you cannot neglect.

Because we cannot see, smell or touch time, we often don't pay enough attention to it and take it for granted. Maybe you're quick to promise yourself to catch your child's next Little League game, take your loved one out on a romantic night, or to update your resume to you’re your dream job. Or, you spend more time focusing on the things that don't matter as much instead of pursuing those that do. Either approach has left you feeling like you're not where you want to be as yet another year comes to a close.

Mastering Time to Meet Your Goals Next Year
"Today’s a gift — that’s why it's called "the present." ~ "Life Matters."

Like most people living in a time-crunched society, you're probably familiar with some time-management techniques such as delegation or saying "no." However, the Merrills believe that mastering time goes beyond these to, instead, principles of personal leadership that really empower you to identify priorities and act on them.

  • Explore your expectations of time. If you spend a lot of time feeling frustrated — especially about not meeting your personal or other goals — it's likely due to your expectations, explain Roger and Rebecca.
    Resolution: Change your expectation or become more efficient and effective at whatever you do.
  • Rethink what you consider important. Sadly, there really are only 24 hours in a day. However, keep in mind that people like Richard Branson — who is not just one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs, but who genuinely embraces life — also have only 24 hours to work with.
    Resolution: Create a personal mission statement that includes your all your roles, such as parent, spouse, job position, child and volunteer. Each week, ask yourself what are the two most important things you can do in each role that week, advises Roger and Rebecca. If necessary, consult a psychologist or life coach to assist you with life planning and creating your mission statement based on your interests.
  • Change your routine to meet your goals. It's an inescapable fact: Every person who creates and meets their goals knows exactly where their time goes. That's why year after year, calendars, journals and Blackberries sell in the millions.
    Resolution: Track your time, taking into consideration the amount of time you're spending on your priorities versus time stealers such as watching TV, sifting through e-mails, taking extended lunches or breaks, or smoking. To prevent tedium that may arise if you track your time hour after hour, pencil in blocks of time each week for your priorities.
  • Really consider what's in it for you. Why should a reward system be promoted only at your workplace. It's easy for you to adapt this motivational method for meeting goals in your personal life. Besides motivating you, a reward system also holds you accountable.
    Resolution: Write down at least three really meaningful rewards you would like to have if you meet your goals. Place them somewhere visible, such as over your office desk or on your fridge. Remember, you're on the honor system; you only get the rewards once you meet your goal.

Empowering Questions

  • What was my biggest time waster this year?
  • What are two or three methods I can use to avoid making the same mistake next year?

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The Center for Personal Development and Psychotherapy specializes in telephone and face-to-face counseling, treating individuals and couples seeking to improve their relationships. Counseling with Dr. Stollman is designed to help patients in dealing with a wide range of psychological issues. Whether you're looking for Los Angeles marriage counseling or someone to talk to about your depression, Dr. Stollman can help.


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(800) 474-1445

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