Don’t Retire, ReFire: How to get yourself back on track

By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

Did you ever notice that getting off track can be so easy and getting back on track can be challenging?

Staying on track and following the path that you’ve chosen is an ongoing, continuous mindset. It doesn’t just happen once and you’re good. That’s not even remotely how it happens. It requires a constant effort of daily, goal-oriented tasks. How do we do that? Can we recognize when we’re off track?

Often times we are going at the only speed we know, which is overdrive, spinning and spinning and spinning our wheels! You know the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees?” It is that lack of focus and blindly tripping over our own feet that keeps us from recognizing that we’re off track. It isn’t until we’ve completely derailed that we stop spinning and notice our derailment.

Here are 3 suggestions, from an expert on constantly getting herself back on the road:

  1. Write out your top 10 goals. We hear this all of the time but do we really do it? Growing up, in my era, there was never any discussion about goal-setting, not at home, with my parents, or at school, with my teachers. Oh sure, there was the question, “What do you want to do after high school?” I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to know, either. Setting goals is a skill that must be taught, cultivated and constantly revisited, starting at an early age. Fortunately, parents are smarter and the education system understands the importance of setting goals. I still have a hard time writing out my goals. I have to force myself to do it. It doesn’t come naturally to me, even now. I have to really think long and hard about it and then write down what my goals are. Knowing your goals and knowing how to achieve your goals are two different layers to the process. In order to stay on track, it’s important to put pen to paper and write them down. You’ll remember better, it will be more meaningful and you’re far more likely to see your goals come to fruition.
  2. Make a Plan and a Daily To Do List. This is the implementation process. Once you have your goals, create the plan to see your goals become a reality. As you review your goals and begin to set the plan, you may begin to see a pattern and similarities with each goal. Your goals may have a common thread. It will become clear that one or two consistent actions in your plan are all that’s needed to achieve most of your goals. For example, if your goals are to exercise regularly, eat healthier, work on a personal project, etc., the common threads are creating the space you need each day and keeping a regular schedule. Along with your plan, your “To Do” list is essential. Most of what we read about setting goals, making a plan and write out “To Do” lists, suggests that we write them out the night before. I would agree with that but if the early hours of the morning works better for you, then do that. The important message is to do it and get in the same rhythm. It’s not necessary to spend the time writing down what needs to be done, in the order in which it needs to be done. Again, that process slows us down. After you’ve written out your list, then you can differentiate what must get done that day and what you’d like to get done. Remember, whatever doesn’t get done, will be transferred to the next day’s list.
  3. Be Still. Be Open to Receive. This exercise could arguably be what should come as the first step towards getting back on track. Can you think of a moment in time where the world was quiet and it was just you surrounded by the stillness. Was it early in the morning? Were you standing outside listening to the waves meeting the shore and breathing in the ocean air? Thinking about whatever that moment in time was for you is a form of meditation, by being still and open to receive new ideas or even old ones with a fresh outlook. It is in our stillness that our creative juices flow. It is truly how we recharge our battery! There is one question that, no matter what difficulties you may be facing, will awaken a smile and some peace, as you think about the answer. The question is, “What brings you joy?”

I leave you with two quotes:

“Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.” Mahatma Gandhi   (I will add, “because everything we do has significance.”)

“You cannot expect to achieve new goals or move beyond your present circumstances unless you change.” Les Brown (I will add, “change is the one thing we can count on.”)

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