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How To Tell If A Goal Is Worth Investing Your Time and Energy

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I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but I'm definitely in that season of life where I just want things to be worth it. I'll spend the time, money, faith and calories on anything that's truly worth it. The trouble is: How do we know what's going to be worth it? 

I've got some #progresscoaching on that for y'all; if you also have become allergic to wasting time or anything else that is precious to you. Let me give you some things to experiment with so that you can invest your time, energy, money and whatever else in the things that will give you the best return.

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My Dears, hello! If we are meeting for the first time, my name is Amy Jones. I am a Progress Croach—croach, croach? No, I'm not. I'm a Coach, and Strategist (as well as) Creator of mapyourprogress.com, and I am excited to chat today about how you can tell whether or not a goal is worthy of your time, and investment.

Certainly I spend my days, pretty much everyday, talking to people about their goals, and what it is they really want, and how they can actually get it. What action steps there are to take, and I find that often we have a sense of what goals we want, but not a real clear sense of why they are worth our time and energy. What it is that we're going to be getting out of it, and why any of it matters.

We're going to look at it kind of from the big picture, and then more the immediate day to day. I've got a question for you that you can ask, and use that on a day to day basis to be kind of checking in with yourself, and determining if the investments that you're making are really worthwhile to you. It doesn't matter frankly, what anybody else thinks, or what they're doing. To me it matters what it is that you are doing on a day to day basis, and you feeling like you are using your time and energy wisely. That when you go to bed at night, you're not regretting things that you did or didn't do. You're feeling accomplished, and proud, and like you adulted well for the day.

Okay, so:

Let's first look big picture. 

When considering the return that you want on your investment of time and energy, what is it that you really want? When you think about the goal, and that goal could be starting your own business, it could be losing 50 pounds, it could be de-cluttering your house, and having it feel like a sanctuary. What kind of return are you expecting that when you reach that goal, whatever your goal is? That you are going to feel, or experience, or that achieving that goal would allow you to be? 

It's really important that we take some time at the outset of any sort of goal, and adventure, and progress, and just be curious with yourself about what it is that you're really after. I see it commonly, where folks will decide that they want a certain thing. They want to go start their own business because they want to spend more time with their family, and want to have more flexibility. Or they want to lose weight, because they'd like to be more active, and be able to go hiking on vacation, or things like that.

Just taking a bit to look at:

What it is that you're really expecting on that return, and is that expectation really true? 

In other words, you may start a business and find that you have even less time than you did with your day job. Your return on investment of being able to spend more time with your family, you may find yourself in a situation where that is not the case. Or maybe it's going to take a few years of you really building your business to be in a position where you're going to get to have that time with your family. Hey Heather, good to see you Dear!

Just considering that, and for those of you that are say, wanting to lose weight, and have a goal to drop a certain number of pounds because you want to feel a certain way when you go hiking on vacation. Maybe you do drop that weight, maybe you do go hiking on vacation and realize, "You know what? This didn't actually turn out the way I thought it was. I don't even like hiking, you know?" 

We have a vision, an idea of what that return on the investment is going to be whenever we are considering going after a goal. Otherwise we wouldn't go after it. There wouldn't be a motivation, there wouldn't be a vision, there wouldn't be an expectation that something is going to happen when I do this. I want you to just be curious for yourself, what it is that you're expecting for your big goal, or as I like to say, your big scary goal. The goal that is beyond the goal that you think you can do, but the one that you really, really want.

Let's also talk about the immediate day to day, just as you're going about your life doing the things that you're supposed to do and so forth. 

When you're considering how you are investing your time and energy, there's a very, very simple question that you can ask yourself when you are evaluating actions that you've taken. When I say evaluating, that can sound like perhaps more of a formal word than it really is. It's paying attention to what it is that you're doing, and just being conscious about it. Just noticing, you know? Whatever the thing was that I just did, whatever I just invested my time and energy in, did it feel worth it?

The question to kind of gauge whether or not it was worth it to you is simply, after you have taken an action, do you feel glad about it? Are you glad that you did it? 

There are six different areas that I broke out when I was thinking about this, in terms of investments that we can make in our day to day as we are moving toward our goal. 

I've been thinking about this a lot in my own life, and really noticing these different areas. I wanted to share them with you, because I know with everything I am experimenting with, and I am learning about or struggling with, that I am certainly not alone, because I'm a human. Which means that there are many others out there who are also experiencing similar things.

1 // Time

The first area that we want to look at is time, and how you are investing it. How you are choosing to spend your time. That may or may not be reflected on your schedule, your calendar, your planner. We have the best of intentions often when we begin our day, but then there's how we actually spend our time. When you look at, even just today, today's a great place to start. Whatever time you are watching this or you're here with me live, or watching the replay, I want you to consider what things you've done today, and when you just reflect back on it, are you glad that you did those? Was that a good use of your time?

I was noticing this morning when I was at Time to Win. For those of you that don't know what Time to Win is, it is a virtual power-hour that I offer Monday through Friday at 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM Pacific. The design of it simply is to create a space in schedule where we can go and get things done. Specifically the things that we procrastinate on, or that we don't want to get done, or that feel like, "Ugh." As Dave, one of my clients says, "Time to Win’s where I go to do the shit that I want to avoid like the plague," right? I decided to spend that hour getting up to date with my financials in my you need a budget software, YNAB: shout out to all the YNAB people. I canceled a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, and followed up on another subscription to another software.

I was noticing when I was in the process of making that cancellation to the Journal, that the amount of time that it was taking me to do that, it felt like I wanted it to be a simpler thing. It's a mundane, super not sexy, normal part of adulting. We all do this. We all go about our day, we're doing the things. When we think about that hour and this morning, was that ultimately the best use of my time? There are a couple things that I, looking back on, probably would have prioritized and felt better about. Nonetheless, it's done. I did it, it's off the list. It's a small thing, that when we notice how we're spending our time, and would we make the same choice again? Do we feel good about that decision, or are we glad we did it?

Just paying attention to your time, and how you're spending it at the end of each day, or even just a few times throughout the day can really start to help you hone in and focus your time where it matters to you.

2 // Energy

Let's look at next one, which is your energy. Similarly, look at your day to day and where you are investing your energy. This can be kind of a tricky one, because our energy can also be our thoughts. The thoughts that we're thinking, how those are impacting energy that we feel. I've noticed as I go throughout my day, where I start to feel a bit heavy, or discouraged, or worried, or overwhelmed. It's because of what I'm thinking, and what I'm believing. I should say, especially what I'm believing. Thoughts can go through your head all the time, and you don't necessarily believe them, or you can choose not to believe them. 

When you are believing something, you are putting your energy into it. What I recognized this morning, I woke up, and I was feeling a little bit off. I realized why, because I was believing a certain thing that may or may not actually be true, turns out. But because I was believing that, I was putting my energy into that thought and that belief, and then going about my day as if that belief was actually true.

When I could catch myself and just notice, "Oh Sweetheart, that may or may not be true." What is true is that it is bringing down my energy, and I'm investing my energy in a belief that does not serve me. Even if it turned out to be true later on, right now the way that I'm investing my energy in today, it is not something that I'm glad about. I don't look back and go, "Oh, I'm super stoked that I just spent the last 20 minutes worrying, and feeling sad about this thing that I believe is going to happen, that hasn't actually happened." Does that make sense? I hope so.

3 // Calories

Okay, let's talk about the third one, which is calories. Lord, I have been experimenting the last week or so with tracking the amount of calories that I eat. This is a subject that has previously annoyed me, and not been something at all interesting that I want to talk about. Oh Heather's saying I froze, hopefully I'm coming back dear. Yay, technology. Calories is something that I have been investing in everyday of my life, blessedly. I have had the opportunity to eat, which is a wonderful privilege. 

Each time I eat, everything that I put in my mouth is an investment of calories in a certain way. When I look at the calories that I've consumed, whether it's just today, or the last meal, or last month, or whatever, I can be curious about that and say, "Okay, whatever that thing was that I ate, am I glad that I ate it?"

There are certain things that are just very healthy, clean foods. I think we can all agree that there's value in lean proteins, and vegetables, and things like that. We can have a sense of eating whatever that is, and then feeling glad that we did it. That we had a healthy meal, we gave our body nutrition, we ate kale, and we can feel like really we're winning at adulthood, right? Then there's also things where you might want to eat, say a piece of cake. I recently did that, and the cake was absolutely delicious. As I was eating it, it felt like a fully worthwhile investment. That yes, it was calorie heavy. No, I did not care because it tasted so good.

Then what I noticed afterward in the minutes that followed, is that my stomach actually wasn't super happy about this decision. That I didn't feel good afterward. Despite making peace with the fact that I was eating a very calorie heavy thing, I felt great about the decision. Then it was 10, 20 minutes later that I thought, "You know? I probably wouldn't make that choice again. I'm not interested in continuing to investment calories in my body, that have my body not feel good." For me it's less about weight and so forth, but more about am I choose and investing in the food that I am putting in my body, in a way that feels good, and that I'm glad about. 

After you eat something, give it a few minutes. Then, are you glad that you did it? Without shame or judgment as far as good foods, bad foods, or how many calories you should be eating, or whatever. I want to shit on you at all in terms of how you eat. I'm curious for you, to notice after you do eat, are you glad that you chose what you chose?

4 // Money

Okay, money. Hellerrrrr! That's a big one, right? That is another thing. We'll be literally invested. This is the investment. When we speak investments, this is usually what we're talking about in terms of money. When you are looking at things that you purchased, it could be as simple as when you're just going to the grocery store and you got some items that later you realized that you didn't eat, or you didn't really need. You may look back and go, "Okay, I'm glad that I got this. Not so glad that I spent my money on this." That's simple day to day stuff.

Then it could be something bigger, like maybe you buy a piece of exercise equipment or something. Initially you feel perhaps hopeful, and excited about it. Then it turns out that you don't actually use it, so you can reflect back and go, "You know, I wish i hadn't invested at least full price in a piece of exercise equipment cause I don't use it very regularly. I wish that I had spent that money on joining a gym, or buying it used," or whatever. When you're evaluating what it is that you're choosing, and that you get to take ownership of it, because it was a choice that you made. 

Then you get to be the one that makes an even better choice next time. That either whatever you purchased felt like a good spend, and you'd be happy to do it again. Or, whatever you spent your money on didn't turn out to be as satisfying or rewarding as you thought it would be. Then you get to use that information next time you're purchasing, and really deciding where you want each of your dollars to go.

I mentioned earlier YNAB, which is the acronym for you need a budget. It is a software that I really enjoy using. Many Mappers in the Map Your Progress community use, cause I was on their podcast about two years ago. That is one of the tools that I use to really look at where each dollar is going, and just on an ongoing basis be noticing, "Am I glad that I did that?" When you just divert that you've spent your money on something that didn't turn out to be as rewarding as you thought it would be, it's not time to criticize yourself. Of course your Clever Brain will want to criticize you. Your clever brain is that aspect of your brain that's very primal, that's very much sourced in fear, and is doing whatever it can to produce thoughts that would have you stay where you are, and not grow, and not make progress.

Clever Brain loves to use criticism as a tool, to have you feel defeated, or discouraged in some way. You did a bad thing, and making choices, and then reflecting on whether or not it was worth it to you isn't like a totally normal human thing. Your clever brain may use criticism, I encourage you to just notice the thoughts, but not believe them. Not putting your energy and investing your energy, and believing that you didn't do it right, you should have known better, you should have made a different decision. 

The whole point of asking that question, "Am I glad I did this?" Is not to try to have an expectation that you should have known better, but it's merely to look at what is, and what happened. Then decide, "Is this something that I want to continue to invest in the future?" That's all. We just get to be curious about it, we don't have to believe the Clever Brain criticalness. 

We just get to notice, and then just choose to take action, and taking that action from love.

Okay, so there's two more that I wanted to share. These are ones that we don't talk about super often, and may be a little bit subtle. I trust in your ability to consider this. The next area that we can look at was it worth it, is the investments that we make in our courage. 

5 // Courage

What I mean by that is that when we are brave, when we are choosing to do something that is outside of our comfort zone, something that we fear, something that our clever brain has a lot to say about it, and does not want us to do. We summon the courage required to take that action, and then we consider after having taking that action, after having been brave, "Am I glad that I did that?" That's the question to ask. Was it worth being brave? Was it worth going outside of your comfort zone? Was it worth possibly risking embarrassment, or vulnerability, or whatever?

One of the more memorable times in my life that I did this, and this was, gosh, probably not quite 15 years ago. It was when I was pretty early in my career, and I was working at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. One of the things that we would do, was host various television shows. They'd come, and they'd move their operations into our hotel for a period of time, and be broadcasting live, and so forth.

One of those shows was Last Call with Carson Daly. That year they came back for a second year, and it was my job to be kind of the liaison between everyone in the crew, and everybody in the hotel. If the crew needed something, I was the person that got it. I mean everybody knew my name, and that was just my job, take care of them. There was an idea posed that year, to have guest announcers on the show. At the top of the show there would be somebody new each show that would announce the show, they would introduce Carson, that would do a little banter back and forth to him at the top of the hour, and so forth.

I was nominated, apparently, to be one of the guest announcers. Initially that made me blanch. I thought, "No way are you guys serious, no way am I going live on national television, NBC, and being the person that's like, 'Live from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.' That's so not my personality." It's funny now that I do these videos all the time, because at that time I was not at all comfortable on camera. The thought made me nauseous, and wanting to flee. Which knowing what I know now, means that was an indicator that this was going outside of my comfort zone, this was an opportunity for me to be brave, and that I had a decision to make. Would I invest my courage in taking this opportunity, or would I say no?

Ultimately I decided to say yes. That perhaps was influenced by my boss saying, "You're going to do this." I did it, and it was, especially up until that point, one of the scariest, hardest things that I have done. In an audience of 400 people, live with the giant cameras, and Carson Daly, and like all the things. Now I can look back and be so glad that I did it. That was one of the things that helped me in terms of making that decision, was I thought about, "Am I going to regret having been part of this show? Am I going to regret having gone on live television," and so forth. That was what helped me say yes to that decision and go through with it. Now it's like a fun story, and it's something kind of random that not a lot of people get to be on that television show, and I had that opportunity.

Am I glad I did it? Yeah, absolutely. Was it deeply, deeply uncomfortable, and did I feel vulnerable, and did I want to throw up? Absolutely. Absolutely. Courage, that is an investment that we can make.

6 // Faith

The last one is faith. This is, again, another one that we don't think about super often. When we consider investing our faith in something, in someone, and that could very well be your religion, it could be a spiritual entity like the universe, or a higher power. It could be having faith in another person. When you consider having faith in something, there's a vulnerability there. Faith by definition is not something that we can prove. It is not something that for some people, is a given. It's a choice that we make. It's a belief that we hold, and we invest in that belief. In a similar way to investing our energy and beliefs that feel hurtful, and painful, and discouraging. Faith is the opposite of that. Investing our energy in believing that the universe is a friendly place, that we are being protected, that we are being watched over, that we are part of the plan, that we can count on other people, that others will come through.

Also I just want to point out, that faith can also be within our self. That is something that I am challenged with on a daily basis, of continuing to renew my commitment to my faith in myself, to be able to bring forth how I can best serve, and to help people make progress, and feel really alive, and happy about what they're doing. Your faith is something that you can invest. The question remains, after you have invested and held faith in something, are you glad that you did it or do you wish you had done it differently? If you wish that you had done it differently, like any of these investments, then wonderful. Now you know that information, and you can use that, and service the decisions that you make.

As you are going about your day to day life and these immediate decisions that are just part of normal life, being an adult, being a person on the planet. You can start to really be investing in things that are worth it to you. 

Nobody else can tell you what is worth it to you. 

You are the person that gets to decide that, and you are the person that knows it, and knows it not just in your head, but in your heart, in your body. In the very cells of your being. That is our own wisdom, and our own internal knowing. That I think is where we really determine if something is worth it or not.

When you're thinking about the goals, thinking about the things you want to go after in your life, that you set for yourself. I want you to think big picture first, think about the return that you're expecting, what it is that you're believing that is going to be different in your life than it is right now, because you will have achieved that goal. What that is, and if that is indeed something that is going to happen from achieving that goal. That what it is that you really want is something you will be able to gain in experience from having that goal. Now, a lot of people want to make more money cause they believe that having more money will have them feel less lonely, have them feel more alive, have them feel like they're on purpose, and that there's something meaningful in their life.

That may or may not be true. Once we've covered our kind of basic needs and so forth, there's lots of research to support that we don't get dramatically happier, feel a sense of purpose, if we have a million dollars let's say, or whatever. Those are the kinds of things we want to just be curious about. Is that goal really going to deliver what it is that you want? Then in the immediate day to day basis, you're going to be looking in the following areas. Your time, energy, calories, money, courage, and faith. Asking yourself after you've taken an action in any one of those areas, are you glad that you did it? That is what there is to notice, and be curious about.

My Dears, I just want to remind you that making progress is an ongoing adventure. 

It is a daily practice of experimenting with things, and paying attention to what is true for you. It is messy, it isn't perfect. It does not go in a straight linear line, it goes up and down. That is normal, and I don't know how it could be any other way. You may have the clever brain that has a lot of chatter about this, and a lot of judgment about how you do things, what you should or should not be doing, and perhaps remembering a bunch of things recently where you made investments, and they didn't turn out to be that way, or you went after a big goal and it didn't turn out to be the return that you thought. Totally normal, okay? This is human stuff. This is the human experience, and there's nothing wrong with you being a human person.

My encouragement is to be kind to yourself, where your clever brain wants to be critical. 

Just to forgive yourself for not knowing how to have done it better. For every decision that you look back on and go, "Ugh, God, I'm not glad that I did that, and I wish I would have done it differently." You didn't know how to do it better, or you would have. Now progress is about using your past to inform your future. The lessons that you've been learning, that you continue to learn on a daily basis. That you can then leverage to be making choices going forward, that you feel are really worthwhile for you.

Okay Dears? I am so happy to be with you as always. I know it's an investment of your time and energy just to be here with me, to be watching, to be listening on the replays, and reading the transcripts that go up on the blog. I'm certainly honored by that, and happy to have you. I will be back on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is when I'm doing these live progress coaching sessions, and I'd love for you to join me. You can always catch up of course on the blog if you'd like. I will look forward to seeing you next time.

In the mean time, I'd love for you to take what I've shared, and see how it fits in your life. Just consider with the investments that you're going to be making, even today, in the next 24 hours, just noticing when you take that action, are you glad that you did it? Just continue to take those next right steps. Each step that you take is something new that you can learn, and will help you be able to move forward to that which you really, really want. All right Dears, I will see you next time!

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