It takes 2 years to start over (Part 1)
As an adult, I’ve moved around… a lot. My grandmother had an address book dedicated exclusively to my mailing addresses. I’ve had 43 of them. OK so some of them I only had for a couple of months – but since I received mail there… it counts.
Not all of those addresses brought up the same feelings. The more peaceful memories came from the addresses that had over 2 years of history. I started to notice a pattern, there… in that little black book.
It takes 2 years to make a complete change of your life – and be comfortable with it. I’m not saying everything will be perfect in 2 years. But, 2 years is what it takes to make the serious progress required to be looking forward, instead of looking backward.
- 1 month is a European vacation
- 3 months is an adventure
- 6 months to 1 year is a break from reality
- 2 years…. a commitment to change
What does this mean for you? it means that if there’s anything you want badly enough in your life, the 12-week programs, dreaming about it – creating vision boards or to-do lists… won’t cut it. You need more: you need to create a solid 2 year (24month) plan with milestones and deadlines and a path of moving forward where your eye is always on that 2-year target.
2 years may seem like a long time looking forward, but it’s a blink of an eye when you’re looking back. And it’s a realistic look forward. There will be moments of pain, and sacrifice and difficulty but if you can tell yourself that it’s all part of the growth – then you can sail through the tough bits a little easier because at 2 years – you will be where you want to be.
- Immigrants take about 2 years to “learn the ropes” of their new home country
- If you make radical changes to your diet, for instance, going from omnivorous to raw vegan, it takes 2 years for your body to fully function under its new regime
- Most entrepreneurs declare losses the first year but a profit the second year
How do you make 2 years work best for you?
Well… this is where the 12-week programs come in, as well as the vision boards and the to-do lists… You see, you can’t reach your end goal if you don’t take steps to get there. And more often than not – we have no idea how to get there. But life is an amazing gift that just keeps on giving – if we listen openly.
12-week programs are great to get you started on a path. 12 weeks = 90 days and studies show that it takes approximately 66 days for our brain to create new neuropathways where our old habits have been destroyed and replaced with new ones. This is important to know because it is when you reach that 60-66 day mark that you will start to feel resistant to the changes you’re making – and if your 12-week program is completely online with no 1-to-1 support, it’ll be harder for you to keep going. Depending on the type of person you are, you should look for programs that offer personalized support, or, join the program with a friend so you can hold each other accountable.
Once the momentum of the program gets you going, you will start to see opportunities and ideas and projects pop-up everywhere that directly tie you into your 2-year goal. In fact, completing a 12-week program may be the first milestone and deadline on your 2-year plan.
Vision boards are a great way to keep visually reminding yourself of WHY you’re on your chosen path of change… and WHAT you’re working towards. It’s the little 3-second pick me up we can all use throughout the day when we feel unmotivated to continue. If you’ve never done a vision board, you can go to my friend Mia’s page for some great instructions on how to get started. I suggest posting short term and long terms visual goals on your vision board so that you have little rewards throughout the 2 years to keep you motivated. A picture of a woman relaxing while getting a massage is a personal monthly reward I like to hold myself accountable to achieving.
To-do lists are my favorite. The caveat is that it’s hard to create a to-do list for a 2-year goal if you don’t know what you need to do in order to reach that goal in the first place. Getting started with a program or a vision board is what opens me up to ideas and brainstorming.
My to-do lists are endless and ever changing. I have a giant to-do list whiteboard in my office to prove it. This is my method:
- I start by creating a giant to-do list on paper. Everything that jumps to mind as a way to get me closer to my 2-year goal gets written down.
- Then, I sift through the items and classify them as:
- URGENT/NOT ESSENTIAL,
- NOT-URGENT/NOT ESSENTIAL
- I cross out all items marked NOT-URGENT/NOT ESSENTIAL and delete them from my mind – these would be the distractions that keep me busy but not moving forward on my goal
- I write the URGENT/ESSENTIAL at the very top of my whiteboard list – these will be the first items I attack every day
- Next, I put down the NOT-URGENT/ESSENTIAL on my whiteboard list.
By now, my whiteboard list is usually full. The ESSENTIALs come first because they are the items that MUST BE DONE in order to achieve my success. The items marked URGENT/NOT ESSENTIAL will get done anyway – if they truly are urgent – but the fact that they are NOT ESSENTIAL to my success means that I don’t want them being prioritized in my day. (So I don’t want to see it on my list, and risk creating a cause for busyness).
It takes a little time to get used to this to-do list, but it works. I’ve started 3 businesses in 3 different countries while raising 3 kids full time with your usual household duties, using this method. This method also got me my own TV show on the Spanish food channel and kept me focused on writing my first book, which I published last year. (pick it up on Amazon). It keeps me focused and driven and with my eye ALWAYS on the target.
This is a very meticulous and methodical approach to getting things done – and I admit – I do stray from it time to time… but the fact that the board is always in my line of sight from where I sit at my desk means that it is always on my radar. My goal, each day, is to knock out 3 items from that list. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I only achieve 1 item… But I’m always moving forward. And that’s what’s important. Moving Forward. As I achieve one item, I erase it from the board. And usually, at the end of each day or week, new “to-dos” pop into my head and I go through my process again to fit them into the list… so the list becomes a sort of organism that lives and grows with me…
Do you work with lists and vision boards? What do you like most about them? What do you find crucial in staying on top of online programs? What other methods do you practice to stay focused on achieving your long term goals?