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Living Intentionally: Secrets to Winning This Year

It’s time for the dreaded New Year’s resolution. You might feel obligated to make a list, fake optimism for the year ahead, and then proceed as usual. But let’s get real: Roughly 35% of resolutions are broken by the end of January.

Why even bother, right? After all, you’re probably pretty focused on building up an emergency fund or plowing through your debt. You’re busy working the Baby Steps because you want an abundant life. Well, abundance is about more than finances. If you desire true fulfillment and joy, you’ve got to be living intentionally in all that you do. 

That’s why, around here, we don’t mess with resolutions. We set goals. We aren’t simply daydreaming, either—we’re putting pen to paper on our potential.

Are you breathing? Then you’ve got potential! Now is the time to tap into it. Thankfully, goal setting doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Read below for a few simple tips.

Study the Wheel of Life

As unnatural as it may feel, you’ve got to look past the day-to-day so you can get a handle on the big picture. A great way to do that is to study Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life, which covers seven areas of possible improvement: career, financial, spiritual, physical, intellectual, family and social.

Spend time thinking about each of these areas as they relate to your life. Reflect back on the past year, five years or 10 years. Then, think ahead. Have fun imagining what life might look like if you grew in each of these areas.

Answer a Few Questions

Trying to conquer seven things at once is overwhelming. Why not pick one area for now? Reach that goal, and you’ll soon be motivated to take on new and greater challenges.

For direction on the best place to start, answer the following questions:

  • When reading the list above, note your physical reaction. Which areas cause you to feel anxiety, peace, fear or joy? Which of those feelings would you most like to enhance or change?
  • Which area has the opportunity for the quickest turnaround? How?
  • Which area would have the greatest return on investment of your time and effort? Why?

If you are honest with yourself in answering these questions, you probably know where to focus your goal. So go ahead and write it down, keeping in mind that it should be specific, measurable, time-sensitive and personal.

Pick Your Approach

The key to realizing your goals is avoiding a “set it and forget it” mentality. Decide ahead of time how you’ll maintain focus throughout the year. Pick from one of the plans below or create your own.

  • Revisit your goal monthly. Select a date to evaluate your progress each month. Consider your success so far and think of ways you can move forward in the weeks ahead. Journal your ideas as a way to stay on track.
  • Invite a friend along. Pair up with someone else who is intent on reaching their own personal goal. Be vulnerable and encourage one another through regular check-ins. It’s okay to be casual, staying in touch over coffee, through email or by phone.  
  • Reduce your goal to a word. Keep your fully written-out goal handy but sum up the essence in one word. Display the word in a prominent place and keep it at the forefront of your mind. Then, as decisions arise in the area of your goal, let that word guide your actions.

Tapping into your potential requires looking at the big picture, yes, but it’s ultimately achieved in the day to day. That’s comforting knowledge because it gives us a sense of control.

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As author Paul Tripp explains, “Every day we lay little bricks on the foundation of what our life will be. The bricks of words said, the bricks of actions taken, the bricks of little decisions, the bricks of little thoughts, and the bricks of small-moment desires."

Over time, as we add layer upon layer of these so-called little things, we reach our goals. It’s the little things, done with intention, that create a form of ourselves often unrecognizable as the person we used to be.

Will you choose today to take that first little step toward a new you? It’s as simple as studying the Wheel of Life, answering a few questions, and picking your approach.

Tell us what your goals are for the new year and what you'll do to achieve them. Leave a comment below!

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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