Life Enrichment
2012 Best Self Journey Handbook

2012 Best Self Journey Handbook

Reach Your Goals with our Best Self Journey Handbook
By Taylor Arnold

For a downloadable PDF of this interactive 2012 Best Self Journey Handbook click here.

Setting achievable goals begins with a sound plan, and this guide will give you the tools you need to set your plan in motion. Whether it’s losing weight, a financial makeover, a career change or finding more “me” time, it is time to live the life you deserve.













Mapping Your Course:

What areas of your life are you most interested in improving? Assess what is important to you. Assign numbers one through nine, one being most important and nine being least to prioritize where you want to focus. 

my fitness_______
my fun ______

my weight loss______
my “me” time______
my finances______
my career_______
my spiritual health___
my relationships____
my organization____

Now that you’ve taken a look at the areas of your life you’d like to focus on, refer to the related sections in this handbook to get started on living your best life!

my fitness

“You’re much more likely to reach your goals if they’re your goals, speaking to your desires, rather than the desires of outside influences. Goals that are meaningful to you will keep you inspired and driven toward success.” 
- Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels.

Being physically fit means establishing a workout routine and sticking to it, and good motivation is essential in jumpstarting your physical fitness. That’s why it is so important to get excited about working out, because reaching your fitness goals is a lot easier when you’re having fun. The first step is defining your fitness goal, whether it is simply exercising regularly or doing a triathlon.

What is your goal?_____________________________

Find what moves you
If going to the gym or attending a spin class isn’t your thing, it’s time to find another way to get motivated about working out. Think about the physical activities that you do enjoy. If this still has you stumped, start with an assessment of your likes and dislikes. These will be the best indicators for helping you form a course of action. For example, if you like to participate in group activities, then joining a kickball league might be for you. If you crave time to yourself, swimming laps might be a better option.

Answer these simple questions to determine your fitness likes and dislikes:

1. I feel most active in the
a. Morning  
b. Evening 
c. Middle of the day
d. Other _________________________   

2. I feel the best about my workout when
a. Taking my dog for a walk in the park  
b. Hitting the gym for a spin class
c. At home sweating to an exercise video
d. Other _________________________       

3. I prefer to work out
a. By myself
b. In a group
c. With a personal trainer
d. Other _________________________       

4. I would rather be
a. Inside
b. Outside
c. In the water
d. Other _________________________            

5. The biggest obstacle in my path is
a. Time
b. Money
c. Motivation
d. Other _________________________       

Tools to help you develop your plan
• Establish a routine and make it non-negotiable.
• 
Write down your plan and keep a log of 
your progress.
• Find a friend you can work out with.
• 
Join a meet-up group to help you stay motivated.
• Choose consistency over intensity.

my fitness action plan for 2012______________________________________________________

Resources:
• 
Best Self’s website for articles, expert advice and other resources.
• 
Some gyms and personal trainers offer one-day passes or discounts so you can try out their programs. Check out our Personal Training resource section.
• 
Other informative websites to check out are livestrong.com, meetup.com, yourgoalbook.com and sparkpeople.com.

my fun

“I think of life itself as a wonderful play that I’ve written for myself, and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part.” - Shirley MacLaine

Do you know how to enjoy your life? Or do you find yourself saying, “I’ll have fun as soon as I finish this project, as soon as I clean out the garage, as soon as I retire…?” Studies show that people who report higher levels of happiness know how to enjoy their life because they can be spontaneous, forget about the stress of the day and appreciate the gift of the moment. Instead of being preoccupied with the pursuit of happiness, why not let go and have some fun right now?

What is your goal?____________________________________

Find what thrills you
Chances are, you spend a lot of time trying to meet everyone else’s needs. But what about giving yourself some of that valuable time and attention? Try fulfilling some of your own wants this year. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make myself happy right now?” It can be as simple as reading a trashy magazine, or as big as going on an African safari. Start by making a list of things you enjoy – that in itself can be fun.

Answer these simple questions to identify ways to infuse more fun into your life:

1. As a child, I had the most fun
a. Swimming in the ocean
b. Playing dress-up
c. Spending time with friends
d. Other _________________________   

2. As an adult, my idea of fun is
a. Doing something on my own
b. Socializing with other people
c. Playing with my kids

d. Other _________________________

3. Something fun that I can do on a typical day is
a. Sing along to the radio on the way to work
b. Go for a jog in the park
c. Meet a friend for coffee or happy hour
d. Other _________________________       

4. To me, having fun means
a. Being creative
b. Going on an adventure
c. Indulging in a treat
d. Other _________________________       

5. The biggest obstacle in my path is
a. Money
b. Time
c. Guilt
d. Other _________________________   

If you think having fun is trivial or unnecessary, think again, because doing an activity that gives you a thrill is vital to enriching your life. Relax, unwind, and forget your stress for a little while. Laugh. Focus on what gives you genuine pleasure and get after it. Make a case for having a really good time.

Tools to help you develop your plan
• Remember what gave you joy as a child.
• 
Make time for a fun activity and mark it on 
your calendar.
• Spend time with people who make you laugh.

my fun action plan for 2012_________________________________________________

Resources:
• 
Best Self’s online calendar for activities around the city. 
• 
For a list of 365 fun things to do in Atlanta, check out 365atlanta.com.
• 
Other fun websites to check out are thingsyoushoulddo.com, atlanta.net/visitors/seedo/freeAtlanta.com and pinterest.com.

my weight loss

“The challenge is not to be perfect…it’s to be whole” - Jane Fonda

Most of us know that maintaining a healthy diet and a consistent exercise routine is the foundation for successful weight loss. But we also know this is easier said than done. While there is no easy way out, it is possible to get your appetite back on track after the holiday season and kick your metabolism into high gear. It just takes willpower, discipline and a realistic action plan.

What is your goal?______________________________________

Starting your weight loss
Calories have a way of creeping up on us, particularly in sodas, alcoholic beverages, and your morning coffee. It’s time to be completely honest with yourself about exactly how much you are consuming. This is where a food diary can help. Once you have an idea of where those hidden calories are, you can begin to swap out those foods or beverages and replace them with more sensible choices. But this doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your favorite treats. For example, use skim milk in your coffee instead of whole milk, and hold the whipped cream. A simple change like this can save you 300 calories a day.

Answer these simple questions to determine your ideal weight loss plan:

1. I am starting a weight loss plan to
a. Lose body fat
b. Lower my cholesterol
c. Increase my energy
d. Other _________________________       

2. I have the most trouble with
a. Late night snacking  
b. Sugary snacks
c. Portion size
d. Other _________________________       

3. I prefer to diet
a. On my own
b. With a buddy
c. Under the supervision of a nutritionist
d. Other _________________________       

4. My biggest weakness is
a. Sweets
b. Soda
c. Fast food
d. Other _________________________   

5. The biggest obstacle in my path is
a. Willpower
b. Time
c. Knowledge and resources
d. Other _________________________   

Take a look at your answers and see if you can spot your strengths and weaknesses. If you have no willpower when there’s candy around, make sure it’s not in your pantry to tempt you. If cutting out soda is an easy change for you to make, do it. If you’re more likely to stick to your diet if you have a buddy or a nutritionist, find someone who will hold you accountable. Do whatever it takes to keep your weight loss plan on track.

Tools to help you develop your plan
• 
Keep a food diary to track what you are 
eating everyday.
• 
Rid your pantry and refrigerator of any junk food that could tempt you to cheat.
• Watch your portion size.
• Begin with simple, small changes.

my weight loss action plan for 2012__________________________________________________

Resources:
• 
Best Self’s website for articles, expert advice and other resources.
• 
There are plenty of effective diet plans and programs available today. Check out our Weight Loss/Nutrition Resources to get started.

my “me” time

“There’s a reason it’s called the restroom. It’s the one place—at work or at home—where no one will bother you. If you’re overwhelmed, steal away for a five-minute meditation break. Inhale deeply into your belly and try to focus on your breathing. You’ll emerge calmer, and maybe even more productive.”  - Dr. Mehmet Oz

Chances are, you rarely have enough time in the day to get everything done. You probably push yourself to the bottom of the list, and before you know it, you aren’t carving out any personal time for yourself. If this sounds like you, it’s time to take a step back and refocus your priorities, because making time to relax and recharge is essential to your emotional health and happiness.

What is your goal?______________________________________

‘Me time’ starts today
Making yourself a priority is the first step toward jumpstarting your emotional health and happiness. But sometimes finding just a few spare minutes in your day can be a challenge.

Answer these simple questions to help you set the parameters for your “me” time:

1. If I had 30 minutes to myself, 
I would most like to
a. Read
b. Meditate
c. Exercise
d. Other _________________________            

2. I am emotionally exhausted
a. When I come home from work  
b. By the time the weekend arrives
c. All the time
d. Other _________________________            

3. 
To completely relax and recharge, I need
a. Complete silence
b. My favorite music
c. The sounds of nature
d. Other _________________________           

4. The easiest place for me to escape is
a. The restroom
b. My bedroom
c. The gym
d. Other _________________________       

5. The biggest obstacle in my path is
a. Guilt
b. Parenting duties
c. Job
d. Other _________________________

Taking more personal time starts with just a few simple changes, but the rewards are huge. If 15 minutes is all you can spare, that’s okay. Sometimes it’s all you need to relax, recharge and reclaim your happiness.

Tools to help you develop your plan
• 
Put it in your calendar – Whether you want time to write a novel or just take a bubble bath, you have to carve it out first.
• 
Ask for help – Your spouse or child can unload that dishwasher too.
• 
Learn to say “no” – Don’t waste any more time on things that leave you feeling drained instead of fulfilled.
• Buy time, not stuff - If that unmowed lawn or unscrubbed bathtub is preventing you from relaxing, calculate what it would cost to hire someone else to do it, versus the value of your time and mental well-being.

my ‘me’ time action plan for 2012_______________________________________

Resources:
• 
Best Self’s website for articles, expert advice and other resources.
• 
For more information on emotional health and happiness, visit everydayhealth.com, or selfgrowth.com.
• 
For a complete happiness checklist and other tips for putting yourself first, visit oprah.com/packages/your-happiness-plan.com.   

my finances

“You’re the CEO of your life. Start demanding some efficiency and accountability! There are countless ways you can reduce your daily and monthly spending.” - Wes Moss, host of News Talk 750 WSB radio’s “Money Matters”

Getting a handle on your finances begins with taking inventory of your current assets and debt. Once you have these numbers in front of you, you can begin forming a plan to get your savings on the right track. But first, you must define your financial goals. Do you want to pay off your student loans? Would you like to put away enough money for an eight month “emergency savings fund?” Maybe you want to save enough money for a down payment on a new home.

What is your goal?______________________________________

Making cents of it all
Reaching financial freedom starts when you are honest about your debt. That’s why it is so important to know exactly where you stand financially. Write down the dollar amount as it applies to your debt/expenses:

Mortgages_____________________________
Autos________________________________
Food_________________________________
Utilities_______________________________
Credit Cards___________________________
School________________________________
Other_________________________________
Total Debt/Expenses______________________

Review your answers and tally up your debt. Now list your debts from smallest to largest. Focus all of your resources on paying off the smallest, then work your way up. Reduce your day-to-day spending wherever you can, and be conscious of where every dollar goes.

Tools to help you save money
• 
Coupon sites give discounts on a variety of services.
• 
Alternative transportation can cut down on gas and car repair costs.
• 
Think like a millionaire by reading their autobiography.

my finance action plan for 2012_______________________________________

Resources:
• 
Check out the websites of experts like Suze Orman (suzeorman.com), Dave Ramsey (daveramsey.com), Wes Moss (wesmoss.com) and Clark Howard (clarkhoward.com).
•
 Money 101 (money.cnn.com) has great step-by-step guides to taxes, buying a car, saving for college and others.

my career

“What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.”  - Oprah Winfrey

Going to work every day is a lot more fun when you get to put your talents to good use. If you’re ready to get more out of your job than just a paycheck, it’s time to hone in on your passion and turn it into a career that gives you purpose and fulfillment.

What is your goal?_____________________________________

Changing direction
Think about the things that are important to you in a job. Are you looking for more flexible hours? Do you want to be your own boss? Would you like to make a difference in your community? If you have young children, perhaps you want a job that coincides with the school calendar. If you’re fresh out of college, maybe you want a job that requires you to travel.

Answer these simple questions to determine what is most important to you in a job:

1. I would like a job that allows me to
a. Make a difference in my community  
b. Showcase my creativity
c. Be my own boss
d. Other _________________________            

2. My ideal work schedule is
a. Nine to five  
b. Flexible
c. 
Compressed 
(four 10-hour days with one day a week off)
d. Other _________________________            

3. I prefer to work
a. On my own
b. With a team
c. On a freelance basis
d. Other _________________________            

4. I would rather be
a. In an office
b. On the road
c. Working from home
d. Other _________________________        

5. The biggest obstacle in my path is
a. Money
b. Motivation
c. A new skill set
d. Other _________________________

Tools to help you develop your plan
• 
Retrace your steps and think about what you wanted to be as a child.
• 
Research careers online, and find a mentor to give you insight into a particular field.
• 
Find a career counselor and request a comprehensive career assessment.
• Network, network, network.
• 
Try a job on for size by doing an internship or apprenticeship.

my career action plan for 2012_______________________________________

Resources:
• 
Best Self’s website for articles, expert advice and other resources.
• 
Attend networking events. Check out The Buckhead Business Association, Young Bucks, and the 400 Club.
• 
Search for a career expert at careernavigator.net, 
atlantacareeralliance.com, or careersolutions.net
• 
Other informative websites include atlantacareerpath.com, careerbuilder.com, and atlanta-counseling.com.

my spiritual health

“Spirit is an invisible force made visible in all life.” – Maya Angelou

No matter what your religious beliefs or affiliations, spirituality is likely at the core of your pursuit. Of course, spirituality can mean different things to different people, but most of us can agree that it stems from a desire to fulfill our purpose on this earth. If you are on a spiritual journey, chances are you’re looking for more meaning, truth, and most of all, peace. Now the question is, how will you go about enhancing your spirituality this year? What do you hope to accomplish, and how far do you plan to go?

What is your goal?______________________________________

Arouse your spirit
If you haven’t yet identified your spiritual outlook on life, this is a great opportunity to discover what you think, feel, and believe to be true. Write down your thoughts and reflections. Read thought provoking books. Get out in nature and see what that quiet moment offers you. Identify the things that feed you spiritually, and see if this stirs up a moment of clarity for you.
Answer these simple questions to identify ways to improve your spirituality:

1. 
I want to get in touch with my spirituality
a. To have a deeper understanding of God
b. To understand my existence on this earth
c. 
To slow down and achieve more Zen in my life
d. Other _________________________        

2. I feel the most clarity when I
a. Meditate
b. 
Read a spiritual prayer or inspirational poetry
c. Get back to nature
d. Other _________________________            

3. 
I feel most comfortable exploring 
my spirituality
a. In a religious text
b. Through a religious/spiritual course
c. 
Speaking to a leader in my chosen place 
of worship
d. Other _________________________    

4. 
I prefer to share my thoughts on spirituality
a. In my journal
b. With other people who share my faith
c. 
With a mentor or leader in my place of worship
d. Other _________________________             

5. The biggest obstacle in my path is
a. Faith
b. Time
c. Motivation
d. Other _________________________       

Regardless of your vehicle for spirituality – meditation, yoga, prayer, or worship – it is possible to achieve spiritual growth this year. A healthy spirit can enhance so many aspects of your life, from your relationships to your overall attitude and contentment. Most importantly, you’ll be on the path to becoming your best self.

Tools to help you develop your plan
• 
Find a place of worship that aligns with your religious beliefs.
• Go on a spiritual retreat for clarity.
• 
Read a religious book or scripture to find a topic that speaks to you.

my spiritual health action plan for 2012_______________________________________

Resources:
• 
This multifaith website includes a variety of ways to practice spirituality in everyday life: spiritualityandpractice.com.
• 
For a directory of spiritual retreats in Georgia, check out retreatfinder.com.

my relationships

“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music 
that brings harmony.”  - Eva Burrows, 13th General of the Salvation Army

It is easy to let the stress of work deadlines, soccer practice and piles of laundry overshadow the most important people in your life. But your family and interpersonal relationships are the foundation for a balanced and happy life. When you take these relationships for granted, you lose sight of everything you have to be grateful for. That’s why it is so important to compliment people, be patient, communicate, and most of all, show a genuine interest in who they are and what they do.

What is your goal?______________________________________

Shift from “me” to “we”
The secret to successful interpersonal relationships isn’t really a secret at all. In fact, it’s quite simple: Find out what the other person needs and do your best to fill that need. This holds true with your spouse, your children, your coworkers and your friends. How often do you give another person your undivided attention? Instead of getting distracted by your iPhone, the television, or your jam-packed schedule, try actively listening to the people in your life.

Answer these simple questions to identify ways to improve your relationships:

1. 
I want to improve my relationship with my
a. Spouse
b. Children
c. Coworkers
d. Other _________________________

2. I have the most trouble with
a. Listening to others
b. Giving my undivided attention
c. Controlling my temper
d. Other _________________________       

3. My greatest strength is
a. Offering compliments
b. Being a good listener
c. Making others feel important
d. Other _________________________            

4. I can best fulfill someone’s needs by
a. Spending quality time with them
b. Giving positive affirmations
c. Performing a favor or act of service
d. Other _________________________

5. The biggest obstacle in my path is
a. My attitude
b. My listening skills
c. Outside distractions
d. Other _________________________

Tools to help you develop your plan
• 
Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain about people.
• Be genuinely interested in others.
• Appreciate people.

my relationships action plan for 2012_______________________________________

Resources:
• 
Emory University offers continuing education with courses like “Communication Skills for your Career” and “Strategic Communications in the Workplace.” ece.emory.edu.
• 
Other informative websites to check out are 
interpersonalcommunicationworkshops.com 
and livestrong.com.

my organization

“People hold onto stuff like their kids’ old clothing as a way of holding onto the past, or they keep things they think they might need someday as a way to control the future.”  - Peter Walsh, organization expert

If you can’t see past the piles of laundry, papers and toys in your home, it’s time to address the clutter. All of the excess stuff that takes up space in your closet, garage and office only adds to your stress. But the good news is, there is a way out – you just have to let go of some of your possessions and put a system in place for keeping the clutter under control. Think about a home with less mess and a life without chaos. What will it take for you to achieve this in your life?

What is your goal?_________________________________________

Conquer the clutter
You don’t have to organize your entire house all at once. Start one room at a time to make it more manageable. Once you’ve got the mess under control, establish some good habits and stick to them. For example, discard all junk mail as soon as it enters the house. Return your keys to the same spot every time you come home. Purge your children’s outgrown clothing once a year. If you can remember to do these simple things on a regular basis, you’ll be on your way to a lifetime of organization.

Answer these questions to identify an organizational system that fits your lifestyle:

1. I consider myself to be
a. Pretty organized most of the time
b. 
Organized on the surface - but don’t look 
in my closets
c. A total packrat
d. Other _________________________       

2. Letting go of my belongings is
a. Easy
b. Possible, but only with the encouragement of someone else
c. Agonizing
d. Other _________________________           

3. I feel most overwhelmed by
a. My closets
b. The garage
c. My children’s playroom
d. Other _________________________           

4. Today I am ready to purge
a. My wardrobe
b. My kitchen cabinets
c. My files and paperwork
d. Other _________________________       

5. The biggest obstacle in my path is
a. Time
b. Motivation
c. Parting with my possessions
d. Other _________________________       

When you are aware of your own level of organization, it is easier to form a plan to tackle the clutter. You may need to set aside a weekend to purge your home, and you might even need a professional organizer to help you. But once you have a system in place, you’ll be able to develop a daily routine to stop messes before they start.

Tools to help you develop your plan
• Tackle one room at a time.
• Every time you buy a new piece of clothing, get rid of an old piece.
• 
If you haven’t used it in 12 months, get rid of it.
• 
Have a yard sale, or donate your unused items to charity.

my organization action plan for 2012______________________________________

Resources:
• 
For organizational tools, storage bins, baskets, label makers and more, go to The Container Store or visit 
containerstore.com.
• 
Other informative websites to check out are 
hgtv.com, organizedhome.com, peterwalshdesign.com, atlantahomeimprovement.com and napo.net.