The last two weeks of December is when I look back at what I’ve accomplished and failed to accomplish and make plans for the coming year. I make a commitment to complete my major goals in each of four areas:
1. Health (mental and physical)
2. Wealth (business and investments)
3. Personal (hobbies and interests)
4. Social (family, friends, community)
My overall goal is to lead a well-balanced life. I’ve found that if I focus too much on one area and neglect the others, I have a hollow feeling that haunts me throughout the year.
I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way. I know dozens of financially successful businesspeople who have few friends, no hobbies, and are generally miserable. I also know some wonderful people who are rich in friends and enjoy full personal lives, but are always stressed by financial shortfalls.
The worst situation, of course, is having bad health. You can have everything else in abundance — money, loving family and friends, and a rich intellectual life. But if you are sick (mentally or physically), you enjoy none of it.
That is why I came up with this four-part formula. First, I set health goals. Then wealth goals. Then goals for my social and personal life.
I limit myself to two or three major goals in each area because I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. Those major goals are highlighted on my checklists throughout the year. I give priority to them. And, usually, I’m able to get them accomplished.
Take some time this week to think about what you have done and what you have not done in 2009. Identify your core desires. Make notes. Talk it over with friends and loved ones.
Then, sometime after Christmas but before New Year’s, convert those ideas into a game plan. I’ll show you how I do that next week.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]