Mid life crisis

I was out running on a sun soaked Wanaka morning the other day with one of my best mates Sean. Because we don’t see much of each other Sean and I use our running time to catch up and often have deep conversations.  As we were heading up a tree covered trail Sean asked me a great question; “Will you have a mid life crisis?”. I love this question because it makes me look at the decisions I make in my life today and how they will affect my life in the future.  

A mid life crisis normally comes about when people have compromised some important areas of their life e.g. their health in pursuit of something else - often their career. These people wake up in their 50’s, they are overweight and unhealthy but have all the money they ever needed. At this time they try to rectify the years of unhealthy living by totally turning their lives around. Often it’s too late.  

When people are on the verge of a mid life crisis they can no longer keep putting off bad decisions and once this is identified they create dramatic change in their lives. At this point the decisions people have to make are huge, it’s the long term denial of small decisions that create the crisis.   

Think about brushing your teeth. You may be thinking, what does this have to do with a mid life crisis? Brushing your teeth is something we all know we need to do twice a day. If you are a really hard core about your teeth you will floss and use mouthwash as well. If you occasionally miss your daily dental care regime it probably won’t matter in the long term, you’ll brush, floss and mouthwash tomorrow. But if this becomes the norm, ten to fifteen years from now your teeth will be in terrible condition, you will be at crisis point and have to invest money in your dental care. At that time you will wish you had kept up this simple daily habit, a habit that is so easy to maintain. 

So the question I have for you is; are the small decisions you are making today going to lead to a mid life crisis? The good news is small decisions are easy to change, just be committed to making them today.


What about the process? 

When I became a person that sat down and set goals every 4 months I spent quite a bit of time reading lots of books trying to find the best process for doing this. A term that would come up a lot was ‘S.M.A.R.T Goals’. This states that goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. So being the good student I am I went ahead and produced my goals based around this standard.   

A few months later I managed to meet one of the most successful people I had ever met. This man impressed me in so many ways. He seemed to be of a high level in all areas of his life. When I got to sit down and have a chat with him I couldn’t wait to tell him about my goal process, as I was pretty sure that he would have a similar way of setting goals. I was also thinking that he may be able to give me some tips on how to improve my process.  

When I asked him about how he went about setting his goals, his answer shocked me. He said ‘I have some ideas in my head that I’m working towards’. I almost didn’t believe him ‘But you write them down?’ I asked, ‘No I don’t, that stuff doesn’t really work for me’ he said. How could this be? This man who had success in so many areas of his life didn’t do his goals in the S.M.A.R.T way? What had I missed?  

What I’ve learnt since that conversation is that there is no one way to set goals that works for everyone. Sure, S.M.A.R.T goals are great for some people, but they don’t work for everyone. Your job is to continually figure out what the best way is to motivate yourself through goal setting. This process will evolve as time goes on. I know that the way I go about setting goals today is completely different to my process ten years ago. I’ve learnt over time how to make them more effective for me.  

Think about times when you have been successful. Look at how you set the targets for yourself at those times and then duplicate that. Over time you will improve your process, a process that you have designed just for yourself that you know works for you.


The dangerous season 

We’re heading into that time of the year when everything gets multiplied by ten, that’s right it’s excess season. Over the next few months you are going to be eating out more, attending BBQ’s, having a few more drinks than usual (and I don’t mean sport replacement drinks here), and you will be offered more chocolate than any other time in the year. How can you not love this season?!  

While the ‘silly season’  is so much fun it can come at a cost. You may wake up on the first of January 2010 vowing to make your new year’s resolution to lose that ‘Christmas weight’. The challenge I have for you is to have fun but not at the cost of your health. Success with health during this period has a lot to do with planning and setting limits to the excesses.  

A school teacher friend of mine, Kate, was telling me that when they teach the kids about responsible drinking, the first thing they ask them is what do they want to get out of drinking? Most of the kids respond with answers that are based around ‘having fun’. Next they ask what they don’t want? Here the kids don’t want to lose control, put themselves in bad situations and so on. Then they ask the kids how much alcohol do they need to achieve the ‘wants’ they had responded with. These questions make the kids aware that they really don’t need to drink that much to have fun. Plus when they are drinking they can identify when they have hit that ‘fun’ stage and start to slow down.  

What can we learn from this? In this ‘excess season’ identify what you are wanting to get out of the occasions you go to. You’ll find that you never come up with answers like ‘eating until I get sick’, ‘getting smashed in front of my workmates’, ‘getting no sleep on a Tuesday night’. Instead you’ll be able to set some healthy limits which when you are out and about you will be aware of. This will give you a much better chance of staying healthy.  

So before heading out identify what you want out of the event, set your limits and then stick to them. This way your New Year’s resolution can be about something a lot more exciting, like writing that Mills and Boon novel!