Ashley Kelly

What are you putting into your upgrade?

Ashley Kelly

In the past, I’ve made resolutions and set goals at the beginning of a new year. I’d write them down and then leave them in my journal.

I didn’t measure or look at them after that until the year was over.

The year would fly by and at the end, I’d reflect on the things I did and accomplished. I only reviewed the bigger things since the smaller wins and losses got lost in the everyday minutiae.

Some things stuck and I achieved things I’m proud of like:

- Writing daily
- Making a career change
- Ending a relationship
- Starting a new relationship
- Making more money
- Saving enough money to travel for a year

Funny enough, I seemed to pleasantly surprise myself with some of my accomplishments. Has that ever happened to you? You look back and realize that you achieved something you had written down but totally forgot about? 

I’m not saying that writing goals down once at the beginning of the year and never looking at them again is the most effective strategy (actually, it's probably the worst lol), however, there’s something powerful in the simple act of writing it down, I must admit.

For me though, I always felt like my accomplishments were never enough. Like, something was missing.

I’d end the year feeling like I should have accomplished more. Like my life should be fuller.

But then, I’d do the same thing again next year.

While I have been able to reach goals I’ve set, I felt like I was living to cross tasks off my daily to-do list. Living pointlessly efficient and efficiently pointless.

Looking back, I believe that the feeling of disappointment comes from not fully understanding or clearly defining what a meaningful accomplishment is. And, not celebrating and appreciating the smaller wins and losses that take place in our lives often enough.

This got me thinking.

The tools we use have scheduled updates for upgrades to ensure the next version is better than the last. You know, Version 1.0 becomes Version 2.0 and so on.

Sometimes, the next version isn’t that much better, the upgrades were almost unnoticeable, or maybe, the upgrade triggered another bug that needs fixing.

And sometimes, the next version turns out epic.

At the end of the day, an upgrade happened. A change took place - for better, or for worse.

As humans, I think scheduling our own updates can help us ensure that the next version of ourselves is being upgraded with the ‘right stuff’ to keep us on track to living a meaningful life.

As our lives happen, our values might change, our beliefs might shift, and what we once wanted we may no longer.

How can we be sure that we’re moving in the right direction if we don’t take the time to check in with ourselves and update?  

This year, I decided to schedule two major updates. One on my 31st birthday (Version 31.0) and then the next 6 months later (Version 31.5).

I decided that I would set value-themed goals and then intentionally choose actions that are aligned with those goals instead of just setting outcome goals. At the 6 month mark, I would review my progress and update my values and goals if necessary.

I said that for me, 2018 would be a year of:

- Pushing out of my comfort zone - so that I can expand and grow beyond my own bubble
- Learning new things - so I have more in my toolbox to draw upon
- Writing and reading more - so that I can keep continuously improving
- Doing things that scare me - so that I can learn to be more comfortable in my vulnerability
- Deeper self-reflection and personal development - because I spend 24/7/365 with myself so, getting to know myself better can’t hurt, right?  

These seem vague, I know, but I prefer it because it leaves room for adjustment. These are meant to be guides.

And any outcome goals I make need to fall within one of the above categories. 

Over the last six months, Version 31.0 of myself has:

- Quit my full-time job
- Began a year journey of world travel with my partner
- Reduced all my belongings into one bag. For real, all my stuff fits in one bag. Because do I really need that?
- Started learning Spanish
- Have read 20 books and counting
- Began exercising more regularly again
- Officially published my writing online which has always been something I’ve wanted to do
- Started teaching online

I have accomplished more in the last six months than I have in any other six month period of my life while moving the direction of my life toward things like risk, discomfort, vulnerability, exploration, creativity, and reflection.  

I recently read a fantastic book, Die Empty by Todd Henry. He summed up why this concept is so important:

“Even small amounts of success can be the harbinger of complacency - or worse, paralysis - because every milestone you reach ushers in new uncertainty. Where to now? What are the next logical steps? Does this work still matter, or is it time to change course? Because we are biologically hardwired to form habits around rewarding activity, when we accomplish a goal or taste the sweet fruit of success it’s tempting to keep pushing the same levers over and over again. However, this approach is often a fast track to mediocrity. The key to long-term success is a willingness to disrupt your own comfort for the sake of continued growth.”

Although our hardware gets older each year, our software can continue to get better, wiser, and stronger if we keep upgrading deliberately and push ourselves out of the confines of our comfort.

What are you putting into your upgrade to ensure that your next version is going to be even better than the last?

What journey are you on? 

What is a meaningful accomplishment for you?

Whatever that might be today might be something different in the future.

Keep checking in with yourself.

Schedule your updates.

And, never stop upgrading.