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Time to get REAL

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This seems to be the time of year when reality sets in: whatever we're doing with fitness, money, or other routines -- well, by this point it's not about New Year's, resolutions anymore. February is real life, and it's probably how things are going to stay at least until summer starts, unless we take action to change them

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In my book, that makes February a perfect time to re-examine your reality. Pull back a few paces from the daily grind of your life, take a clear-eyed look at the evidence you see, and then figure out -- with as cool a head as you can -- what it means for you, and especially what it means for what you're getting out of life.

Doing this takes some bravery, because a lot of people go to great lengths to avoid dealing with reality. Bucking that habit could be hard. But we're made of stern stuff, right? So let's plow ahead.

Jumpstart Your Reality Check

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get the ball rolling:

  • What do you say you want? Is that what you're getting?
  • What are you doing about the things that you say you want?
  • Way down inside, what are the few most important things to you in life?
  • What have you done in the past 48 hours about those few things?
  • How's your fitness? Which direction is it headed?
  • How's your financial health? Which direction is it headed?
  • How are your close relationships? Which direction are they headed?

You can expand the list from there, and by all means you can customize it to reflect the most relevant factors in your life. But in my experience, the questions listed above cover the basics for most people.

If what you're doing from day to day matches up with what you say you want or think you want, you've got a good chance of being pretty happy, even when life isn't perfect. The real soul-killer is when what you're doing doesn't match up to your cherished words, hopes, and desires. In fact, let's lay out a simple equation as a reminder for our aim:


When you can pull this off, you need not fear to face reality, because your actions -- which are the main things that you can control -- will match up to the wishes that you speak or think for yourself. When that happens, all of those other things in life that you can't control probably won't get you down so much.

Embrace Reality

Now I'm going to pose another little exercise for you, one that I hope you'll do along with me. On a piece of paper, write down one true statement about a reality you're encountering but not enjoying in each of these areas:

  • Fitness
  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Time Management

Then I want you to pair it with one statement about something you could do that would help to change that reality. In the category of fitness, my pair of statements might look like this:

"I'm not able to run as far or as fast as I want to."

"I can set appointments on my work calendar to run at lunchtime three days a week for the next month."

(I'd love it if you chose to share some of your own statements in the comments.)

The first statement gets you to deal with reality on its own terms. The second statement keeps you from getting lost in aversion: you could do that. (And, in fact, I have set those lunchtime appointments with myself.) If you get on a roll, you can add more statements of things you can do to address the same reality. (For example, "I can keep a pair of running shoes and a change of clothes in the trunk of my car to make it easier for me to run whenever I get a chance.") Break the ice with yourself, get used to looking candidly at reality, and pave the way for action.

The point of the exercise -- and of this whole post -- is to encourage you to deal with things as they are, not as you wish they were.

Getting real is one of the great keys to happiness and achievement in life. Care to join me?


Show, Don't Tell, Your Priorities

Set Your OWN Expectations

The Liberating Struggle of Behavior Change

Tim WalkerTim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro living in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated CareOne Blogger

Follow Tim on Twitter; @Twalk or follow us by clicking here!

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  • In the bigger picture, though, there are just a lot of things I want to do -- and hitting 39 is a sharp reminder that I'm not a kid anymore.

  • Great importance to debt management. I am the writer for, can I recommend your site to my visitors?

  • "Embrace the Reality" that's what I liked :)

  • If not, there's still time to get on track -- not just for the rest of this year, but for every timeframe from the rest of this day to the rest of your life.

  • Funny, I started asking myself these same questions at the beginning of 2011. I am still on track with my fitness, have a solid goal for my finances, always looking to be more efficient with my time and family and friend relationships are strong and healthy. Still working on the love part though as well and wish my finance goals would hurry up. its just gonna take time

    The one thing I added was learning. I went back to finish the bachelors i should have finished a long time ago.the  I think we should  always be looking to learn something. Not just the stuff of the internet or from a magazine but more like learn to play a piano. or a new language, cook, surf, chemistry or construct. Learn something difficult or complete foreign.

    Good Luck!

  • Thanks for the comment, Jimmy. I'm a big believer in learning, too. Among other reasons, there's a lot of research that shows that learning something hard (like a new language) actually staves off mental decline -- potentially keeping us sharp even into extreme old age.

    Keep pursuing your goals!

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