20 questions for planning New Year’s goals

I thought that this was a good set of questions by Tsh Oxenreider.  I like her approach.

Steve

20 questions for planning New Year’s goals

bench overlooking the water
Photo by Khalid Almasoud

There’s been a growing trend of disdain towards New Year’s resolutions.  I can understand why, to some degree, but I, for one, really like them.  The trick is knowing how to pick the right resolutions, and then develop a healthy, realistic game plan for making them happen.

Some of you make resolutions, and some of you don’t – but many of you took the time to reflect on this past year.

Trust me when I say I’m talking to myself here – I can join the throngs of people who make resolutions in January with good intentions, and the lofty goals are long gone by February.

I prefer to make goals for the year instead of new year’s resolutions. With resolutions, you “resolve” to do something – and then hope for the best.  With goals, you set a marker in the distance and make plans to get there.

On Monday I’ll share an approach I like for creating permanent change.  I plan on approaching my 2009 goals with this method, because it provides room for both reality and challenge.

But today, I’m posing a few questions that might help spark some ideas for your 2009 goals.  Like before, either grab your journal and pen for some solace, or print the free PDF download at the end of this post with all these same questions. I heard from a few of you that you used the 2008 reflection questions as conversation starters with your spouse – I think that’s an excellent idea for these as well.

Vision Questions for 2009

1.  What skill do you most want to learn this year?

2.  What is one skill you already have that you’d like to improve this year?

3.  Name three books you most definitely want to read in 2009.

4.  In what specific area do you most want to encourage your spouse?  What are some ways you can do this?

5.  Think of one of your major life goals.  What will you do this year to make you one step closer to reaching that goal?

6.  Name your kids’ biggest strengths.  What are some ways you can specifically nourish those strengths?

7.  Name your kids’ most prominent weakness.   What are some ways you can encourage their ability to overcome it?

8.  What is one of your strengths?  Think of some specific ways you can exercise it this year.

9.  What is one of your weaknesses?  Brainstorm some ideas on how you can overcome this deficiency.

10.  Think of an important relationship aside from your spouse and children.  How will you nurture that relationship this year?

11.  Name a few ways your physical health could be improved.

12.  Name a few ways your family’s financial health could be improved.

13.  In what way do you want to draw closer to God?

14.  What is one area of home management that frustrates you?  Think of some specific ways you could improve your attitude about it.

15.  Have you ever created a family mission statement with your spouse?  If so, why not do one for this year?

16.  Name one specific thing you could do with your spouse this year that will deepen your intimacy.

17.  What is something that is continually undone in your life?  What will you do to fully complete it this year?

18.  In what ways will you be involved with your local community?

19.  What is one thing you’d like to accomplish by your birthday this year?

20.  Think of three words you’d like to describe your 2017.

 

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How to Finally Play the Guitar: 80/20 Guitar and Minimalist Music


When will you stop dreaming and start playing? (Photo: Musician “Lights”, Credit: Shandi-lee)

I’ve always wanted to play the guitar.

It started as a kid, listening to my dad play around the fireplace during the holidays. The fantasy continued with Guns N’ Roses and the iconic Slash. From hyperspeed Slayer to classical Segovia, I was mesmerized.

But I never thought I could do it myself.

Despite tackling skills as esoteric as Japanese horseback archery, I somehow put music in a separate “does not apply” category until two years ago. It was simply too frustrating, too overwhelming.

My fascination with guitar wasn’t rekindled until Charlie Hoehn, an employee of mine at the time, showed me the 80/20 approach to learning it.

This post explains how to get the most guitar mileage and versatility in the least time…

Do you have any additional tips, whether for guitar or applying the 80/20 principle to another instrument? Piano, violin, flute, or other? Please share in the comments!

Enter Charlie

Almost everyone has fantasized about performing music in front of a huge screaming crowd at some point in their life. For me, I’d always dreamed of playing guitar with the same mastery as Jimmy Page, Allen Collins, or Mark Knopfler. Sadly, I could never stick with guitar practice.  I ended up quitting multiple times for a host of reasons: the material was boring, my teacher moved too fast, my teacher moved too slowly, my fingers were killing me, my wrists were sore, I wasn’t making enough progress, and so on.

Then my friend Jake Ruff taught me two simple exercises that changed everything, and I’ve been able to stick with guitar ever since.

Some guitarists proclaim that you need to tackle music theory first, while others will tell you to learn sheet music while you’re practicing chords. I found it most effective to focus on a few easy exercises, while minimizing boredom and pain. In other words, the process for learning that you enjoy the most is the best one, even if it isn’t comprehensive.

Comprehensive comes later.  First, we need to get you hooked.

The Ground Rules 

In order to get past the initial pain period that comes with learning guitar, it’s critical to manage your expectations. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what these first few weeks will be like, there’s a good chance that you will get frustrated and give up.

Here are the three things you need to know before learning guitar, under my plan or anyone else’s:

1. You will feel clumsy. Remember when you first learned how to type? You wanted to hammer out 100 words per minute, without ever making an error. The reality? You constantly had to look down at the keyboard, and you’d get frustrated whenever you made a mistake. Guitar is the same way. As much as you’ll desire the ability to play all your favorite songs beautifully, your body and brain simply won’t be able to. Your fingers will move slowly, your hands will feel awkward, and the sounds coming from the guitar will not be easy on the ears. Relax, and give yourself permission to suck. Allow yourself several weeks to build “muscle memory” – getting comfortable having your hands in positions they aren’t used to.

2. Your fingers will be sore. Expect the tips of your fingers to hurt for at least a month while they’re developing calluses. If your fingers get extremely sore, take a day off, and never play until your fingers bleed.

The pain you’ll feel is largely unavoidable, but you can reduce it by using a capo (a clamp you fasten across the strings of the guitar – read more on this in “Getting Started” below). The most important thing, of course, is to not quit playing altogether because of the pain. Whenever you want to quit because it hurts your fingers too much, say to yourself, “Justin Bieber taught himself to play guitar before he was 12.” Yes, that’s right. That effeminate kid successfully got through the same pain you’re feeling, and so has every other guitar player on the planet. You’re more than capable of pushing through.

3. You need to practice for at least 10 minutes each day. There is no quick path to mastering the guitar, but there is a fast track to failing: a lack of practice. During the first month, you need to make playing your guitar for at least ten minutes into a daily habit. Playing every day will help you build calluses faster, and increase your comfort level with the instrument.

When I first started, I aimed for at least two 10-minute practice sessions each day. I found the most convenient time to practice was while watching TV. The two exercises you’ll be focusing on won’t require intensive periods of concentration, so it’s totally fine to watch your favorite show while strumming away.

Getting Started

First and foremost, you’ll need to buy a guitar (See guitar recommendations below in the Gear section). I know it’s obviously possible to learn with a friend’s guitar or one that’s been given to you as a gift. However, I found that my desire to learn increased substantially only after I put some skin in the game. Buying my first guitar only cost me $100, but spending that amount made me much more committed to learning.

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