Featured, Lifestyle, Soundness

Your Guide to Setting Life-Changing Goals

How important are goals in your life? To answer this question, imagine a hypothetical situation.

You are heading out onto the open road, taking a cross-country trip to the vacation spot of your dreams. A lot of time was spent carefully packing the car with your luggage and healthy snacks for the road. You even took the effort of saving a sweet Spotify playlist to your phone for the many hours of driving ahead. Everything is going to be great.

You hop onto the interstate, humming along to one of your favorite songs. The minutes fly by as fast as the miles and soon you are far from home. This is uncharted territory for you, but the change of scenery is refreshing. The sun reaches high noon and you suddenly realize you’re starving for lunch. Time to find a place to eat.

Parking at one of those gas stations in the middle of nowhere, you pull out your phone to check for the nearest restaurants. The map won’t load. With a sinking feeling, you realize you’re out of data for the month. Out of data and alone in a place you’ve never been before. You own paper maps and a handy GPS, but you left those things back at your house.

What would you do in this situation? The chance you’ll be able to find a good restaurant is small, and the chance your journey will successfully end at your dream destination is next to nothing. Odds are: you’ll either call your phone carrier for an extra gig of data, make the trek back home to grab your GPS, or buy a map inside the gas station. Any way you slice it, you need a route and navigation to continue your trip.Goals: Your Roadmap for Life

Failing to set goals in your life is like taking a trip with no means of navigation. You might get lucky and come across a few places worth visiting during your voyage, but most of the time you will simply be trying to figure out where you are. Goals are the primary way we can project and fulfill our own future. And if we construct our goals in the right manner, they also provide the correct path forward.

You’ve probably made goals for yourself at some point. Perhaps during a new-year’s-day burst of motivation. But how committed were you with following through? If you ultimately failed, don’t feel bad. Statistically, most people’s goals are forgotten a few weeks after they make them. New year’s resolutions are particularly susceptible to this neglect. In order to get the most out of your goals and make it easy for you to push to success, you need to know the proper method to setting goals.

Dedicate a couple hours to this process. Your goals are very important, and this procedure is going to change your life. Prepare yourself to give a lot of thought and a bit of work to the following guide. Pull out a notepad or open a word processor, and let’s get started.

Begin with visualization

Visualizing Goals

Close your eyes and think about the future. Not the next few days or months – the far future. Put yourself into your perfect life’s shoes.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where am I?
  • Who am I with?
  • What do I look like?
  • How do I feel?
  • What am I doing?

This perfect future life you are seeing is your ultimate goal. Write down details of this goal as you visualize. Be as specific as possible.

Break it down

Everyone’s life situation really boils down to five main areas:

  • Financial
  • Relationships
  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional

Continuing with the visualization of your perfect life, write down how each of these areas is going for you in the future.

Goal Journaling

It’s very important to write these goals in the present tense.

Let’s use a physical goal as an example. Don’t write “I will be a marathon runner”. Instead write “I am a marathon runner”. You will be looking over these goals many times in the years to come. When you read something that’s present tense, you are encouraging your subconscious mind to see it as a reality. This helps you live like you’ve already achieved your goal, which is super effective for making progress and staying motivated.

Devote an honest effort while completing this step. After all, you are effectively planning out how the rest of your life is going to go. Don’t be afraid to set very ambitious goals for yourself. You have more potential than you could ever realize, and creating goals that are easy to reach is just selling yourself short.

Give it a timeframe

You Goal's Timeframe

Now you should have a list of lifetime goals broken down into the five main areas of life. The next step is to work backwards in time, getting closer and closer to the present.

Here is how you should structure your goals:

  1. Lifetime Goals
    • Financial Goals
    • Relationship Goals
    • Physical Goals
    • Mental Goals
    • Emotional Goals
  2. Three-Year Goals
    • Financial
    • Relationship
    • Physical
    • Mental
    • Emotional
  3. Yearly Goals
    • Continue making goals for the five areas within each timeframe
  4. Quarterly Goals
  5. Monthly Goals
  6. Weekly Goals

Start with your list of “Lifetime Goals”

Determine what you’ll have to do to reach each of those five goals within three years. Add them to the list under “Three-Year Goals” (remember to do it in present tense). Now decide what you’ll have to do within a year to reach your three-year goals. Continue this process down the line until you finish weekly. Again, do not rush this!

Review and manage your list

Goal Set!Congratulations! You have just created a road map to your perfect life. Hang the sheet you’ve constructed somewhere you will see it every day, like by your bed or on the bathroom mirror. It’s vital to review your goals on a daily basis. You need to burn them into your mind.

When the week is up, you will need to create new weekly goals. Take this time to evaluate yourself on your progress. What went really well? What could you have done better? Commit to making improvements whenever possible. You will have to create new goals every month, every year, every quarter, and every three years. Refer back to your lifetime goals when deciding what to write in each of these instances.

Do not underestimate the effort it will require to reach your destination. This journey is a priority in your life. Chase your goals like your life depends on them, because it absolutely does. Congratulate and reward yourself for small wins. Motivate yourself by visualizing the future you will be living some day.

Know beyond any doubt that you have the ability to create your own future by making the correct choices in the present. Now that you have filled out your ultimate goalsheet, you possess instructions for exactly what you have to do. Go and get after it!

Resources

Despite my best efforts to be simple, this guide may be confusing to you. I’ve made a handle little template on Google Docs that you can copy, paste, and fill in to streamline this process. It’s completely free! Click the link below for access (use a desktop browser for best experience).

Google Docs Goalsetting Guide

AXXION_logo_2

Food

Three Popular Processed Foods to Stay Away From

We live in the future.

Electric cars drive themselves around on freeways. Products we use and love are pushed out of factories by the millions. An infinite well of information is available to us on the internet, which is growing every day. On the surface, everything can seem quite idealistic. Life is easier than it has ever been – even kings of old didn’t have a tenth of the luxuries most people enjoy today.

However, there is often a dark side to humanity’s continued quest to conquer our future. Turns out, progress and efficiency aren’t always positive things. One area humans have managed to screw things up is food. The food we eat is mass-produced on an unprecedented scale in this modern world, and the drive to produce food as cheaply and quickly as possible has led to some disastrous results.

There are certain manufactured items that are literally pumped full of artificial chemicals and preservatives. In some cases, these additives are precisely and intentionally included to create cravings and addictions (take caffeine in soda, for example). These artificial extras can wreak havoc on your body.

In this article we will take a look at three foods that you should avoid, and why. Unfortunately, all three of these foods have become mainstream commodities.

Processed Cheese

Processed Cheese

 

 

You’ve seen these before.

 

 

They’re an American staple: the single-serve slice of cheese. Perfect for a kid’s lunchbox or melting on top of a hamburger. They taste pretty good too. Dangerously good.

Cheese items such as these are labeled as “processed”, and are only required to have 51% cheese in the ingredients. What is the other 49%? Depending on the manufacturer, it’s a mixture of emulsifiers, acids, artificial coloring, salt, and mold inhibitors. Yikes.

While these additives may help the food last for months and turn a nice yellow color, none of them belong in your body. Do you know what potassium sorbate and sodium tartrate are? Unless you’re an organic chemist, probably not. In that case, maybe you should avoid ingesting them.

Many cheese products these days advertise that they are “Made with real cheese!”.

Instead of seeing this as an incentive to buy, consider it a warning flag. Sure, a little bit of natural ingredients is better than none. You should still take the time to read the nutrition facts and ingredient list to determine if its cheese worth eating.

An item that is 51% cheese barely deserves the title of ‘cheese’. If you’re going to eat cheese, make sure it is the real deal from now on.

White Bread

Processed Bread

Did you know that flour is not naturally white? It makes sense if you think about it. Flour is made from grains, all of which are various shades of brown or tan. How in the world does flour become white, and why is white flour so popular today?

The snowy, powdery substance we all have used at some point in our baking career is called ‘refined flour’. The process of refining flour includes bleaching, fumigation, and adding dozens of different chemicals like polyexy ethylene monostrate. The result? Flour that is stripped of all its nutritional value, just as it has been stripped of all color. Refined flour has less fiber in it, and thus feels less satisfying to eat. This, of course, is very good for the people making it. The more we eat, the richer they get.

Bread is the main way most people consume flour.

White bread made from white flour has become so common that it’s easy to see it as the norm. Whether it’s the bread sticks our favorite restaurant brings out, the crust on our pizza, or the slices on our sandwich, white bread has absolutely taken over.

Don’t let white bread’s everyday presence fool you. Like the inexplicably popular school punk, it’s better off avoided. Opt for whole-grain and whole-wheat choices whenever possible, and your body will thank you.

Chips

Potato Chips

Chips seem to be one of those things that just end up in your shopping cart. You make your way to the registers and suddenly realize you’ve thrown two bags of Doritos in the basket sometime during your journey through the aisles. Oh well, you think. Chips are cheap, and they’re a great snack whether on the go or at home. A few movie nights and hundreds of calories later, the chips are gone – until the next grocery run.

It would be great if snack chips were healthy.

But… they’re not. At all. Chips are completely empty calories, meaning they don’t provide any vitamins/minerals/nutrients to your system. When you choose to eat chips over other healthy tidbits, you are displacing all the benefits your body would have gotten with thin wafers of fat and salt.

Just like processed cheese and white flour, the manufacturing method of chips includes adding tons of chemicals. How does a potato actually go from a brown spud to a potato chip? It’s not a simple action of slicing and frying, which is what many manufacturers want you to believe. In reality, the potato is often turned into a paste and mixed with yeasts, acids, and enzymes before being smeared into thin discs and dumped in a fryer. The process for corn chips can be equally terrifying.

Next time you find a bag of chips in your cart, take it back to the chip aisle or tell the cashier you decided not to get it. There are a few chips you can buy that are more health-focused. Try these out instead if you absolutely can’t resist the satisfying crunch of a chip.

Be Different

Going along with the crowd is regularly a recipe for disaster. Just because foods like these three are so common does not mean you should be eating them. Be mindful about the fuel you put in your body, because it will always affect you for better or for worse.

AXXION_logo_2

Soundness

Meditation Posture Guide For Beginners

Does this situation sound familiar to you?

You’ve been meditating for a few minutes with great success. Everything is going blissfully well, until a nagging strain in your back starts to distract you from concentrating on your breathing. You sit up a little straighter, which helps. Back to breathing. A few minutes later, your neck starts to hurt. Then your shoulders. Gah- it never ends. What is going on? Staying focused during meditation is hard enough without having to endure aches from random parts of your body!

You’re not alone in suffering these frustrating distractions. Especially if you are a beginner, it can be common to cut sessions short due to simple discomfort. I was definitely prone to these aches during the first few months of daily meditation.

Luckily, the fix is very straightforward. Employing proper posture will wipe out these troubles faster than a diving falcon. By paying attention to my posture, I am able to meditate much longer and much deeper. I know this will work for you too. Let’s take a look at some time-worn tips for perfecting your mediation posture.

The Seven-Point Posture of Vairocana

Variocana Meditation

Buddhist culture is known for its emphasis on mediation. Vairocana is a celestial Buddha often pictured using a simple yet specific position while meditating. Throughout the years, people have used Vairocana’s posture to enhance their own practices.

Here it is, broken down into its seven main components:

  1. Sit comfortably with your legs crossed.
  2. Rest your hands in your lap or on your knees.
  3. Straighten your back. Imagine your spine as a perfect stack of coins.
  4. Spread your shoulders, like the wings of a large bird.
  5. Slightly lower your chin. Make sure your neck is balanced atop your spine.
  6. Relax your jaw and keep the tip of your tongue lightly touching your upper palate.
  7. Keep your gaze slightly lowered, peering over the top of your nose.

It might be a good idea to read over these seven points at the beginning of each meditation session until you can get into this position naturally.

Where to Sit While Meditating

Where you choose to sit before you start to meditate can make a huge difference to your posture. In general, it is best to sit on the ground. Western culture isn’t accustomed to this, so it may feel a little strange the first few times you do it. A pillow or other support is vital in keeping your tailbone elevated and pelvis comfortably rotated forward.

Zafu Pillow Meditation

Did you know there’s actually pillows made specifically for meditating?

These are called Zafu Cushions – and at the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, getting one of these changed my life. Zafu Cushions are made to keep their form instead of compacting over time like the stuffing in normal pillows. The one I have is filled with buckwheat kernels, which I had never heard of before getting it. After using one of these for months, I’d call it a necessity for anyone serious about meditation.

Here’s a link to the exact cushion I ended up getting: Peace Yoga Zafu Cushion

Remember to keep your legs comfortably crossed while sitting. The key word here is comfortable. You probably have seen pictures of people in the lotus position, with their ankles on top of each opposite knee. I know I’m not flexible enough for the lotus position, but you might be. Crossing your legs normally is much easier and still acceptable.

Meditate

Find Out What Works for You

In the end, meditation is always a highly personalized experience. Everyone gets something different out of it, and that goes for posture as well. Follow the guidelines above but feel free to adjust them slightly to fit your body’s own tendencies. With a little practice, you’ll be pulling hour-long sessions without so much as a ping of pain from your back!

AXXION_logo_2