We all talk about how fast time goes. We move on to the next thing so quickly. The Christmas tree is still up, but presents are put away, and my little son is dreaming of his Santa list for next year. We are back to work, and anticipating the next holiday.
We tend to do the same things with goals. Once met, they are just a stepping stone to the next goal. An author and blogger I follow, Chris Guillibeau, has an interesting ritual regarding goal-setting. He plans for and spends nearly one week each December for “The Year in Review.” He uses this time to reflect on the past year and to create a road map for the year ahead, more of an action plan than set of resolutions.
Armed with a nice pen and a blank journal, he simply starts with two questions: What went well? What didn’t go so well? I think we focus on what didn’t go so well, because we forget about the goals we have achieved, so quickly buried by the next goals. Wouldn’t it be amazing if our review was more like a technicolor gratitude list, affirming our many victories big and small, and why they were important to us? From this perspective of satisfaction and achievement, we can focus on what we want to improve.
Another author I enjoy, Danielle LaPorte, adds a layer to this process in her new book and multi-media program, The Desire Map. She encourages us to think not only about what we want to accomplish, attain and receive, but also about how we want to feel. “Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life,” she writes. Our aspirations are fuel to feel a certain way, and these core, desired feelings guide our choices. Reflect on how you want to feel when you are being your best you and choose three or four to focus on: energetic, generous, powerful, spiritual, creative, free, grateful, beautiful, graceful, safe, fearless, love, loved, loving? Some may regard this focus on feelings as unnecessary fluff, but I consider it a guiding light.
From the perspective of these feelings, think about aspects of your life. LaPorte suggests a flexible list of life categories:
Body & Wellness (healing, fitness, food, rest, relaxation, mental health)
Creativity & Learning (artistic and self-expression, interests, education, hobbies)
Essence & Spirituality (soul, inner self, truth, faith, practices)
Livelihood & Lifestyle (career, money, work, home, space, possessions, fashion, travel)
Relationships & Society (romance, friendship, family, collaboration, community, causes)
What do you need to do within these categories to feel what and how you desire? It helps to use the tried and true SMART system to put things into motion. SMART stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed and Tangible. Physically writing things out using pen and paper has a powerful psychological effect. You can scan or transfer to a spreadsheet for further reference and tracking if needed. Refer to your core desired feelings often as a trigger. LaPorte uses a sticky note in her daily planner to keep them in sight and on her mind.
Yes, things might change politically or economically. You might get a new job, a new relationship or an illness or injury. These might have an impact on how you feel and what your outcomes are. But Guillibeau counters that we underestimate what we can do in an average year and quotes Andy Warhol, “They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
Celebrate 2012 for its many lessons, set lofty aspirations, and think about how you want to feel. Take some time to do this right, and you may have the best year of your life in 2013.