Friday, January 1, 2010

Go from Resolutions to Results!

Happy New Year! May this be the year everything changes for the better!

Goals are an important way to get where you're going. They can help motivate you to live your dreams (instead of sitting on the couch, dreaming them), and they can provide you with invaluable insight about yourself and what's in your way.

I'll be writing a number of posts about goal setting, and using the momentum from the beginning of the year to make some real changes in your life. These are all in alignment with the workshop I'm teaching on the 16th of January on goal setting (and goal reaching!) so if you enjoy the posts, feel free to share them with others, and sign up for the course!

Part 1: Brainstorming

The first step in goal setting is identifying what you want more of in your life. And a good way to do that is through brainstorming. If you've already got a goal in mind for 2010, you can still use the tools below to deepen and specify that goal, and you might find that they'll give you an additional idea or two.

Brainstorming is where you just look at your life with curiosity and fascination. You don't have to know how to reach the goals that speak to you in this exercise, you just have to feel what thinking about these goals does to your body. Do you feel more alive? Tense? Angry? Excited? Just see what comes up as you work with the tools below.

Three tools I'd recommend for brainstorming your goals:
1. The Wheel of Life
2. Roles and Responsibilities
3. Needs/Wants/Deficiencies

1. The Wheel of Life
This is a great tool for seeing where you are in the different areas of your life. Draw a circle on a piece of paper and divide it into eight sections. Then write the following categories into each of the sections:

Personal Growth

Then, take a moment and assess your level of satisfaction with each area in your life. This isn’t about how much money you have or how many friends you have. It’s about how happy you are with the money or friends you already have.

As you identify how you FEEL about each area (again, not what you’re DOING with each area) draw an arc in the section at the level (from 1-10) that represents your satisfaction. This represents your life as if it were a wheel. (Don't worry, if yours looks like a French horn that was sat on by Andre the Giant, that's pretty normal.)

The areas with the lowest levels of satisfaction are a good place to look for goals. (Go here if you'd like to generate one online.)

2. Roles and Responsibilities
When I look at my life and think about the variety of things I do, I sometimes wonder how I get it all done, and I imagine the same is true for you. Part of the reason I manage to get it all done is because I don’t have to do all of it every single day. It’s as if I have a variety of jobs, but I only have to go to specific jobs each day. I’m responsible for all of the jobs, but some days different jobs take precedence.

Take a moment to examine your life and the wide variety of things you do. You’re a child, a parent, a lover, a friend, a co-worker, a Buddhist, a gym bunny, a tap dancer, a novelist. As you write down each job, underneath it, write out the responsibilities you have that go with that job. “Call Mom on Sundays, eat more spinach, submit samples to recruiters, write your blog” whatever. Where is there room for improvement or opportunity for growth? When you see it, circle that responsibility. It could turn out to be a goal!

3. Needs, Wants, and Deficiencies
While this is a less positive place to look for goals, it is valuable nonetheless. What do you want (or want more of) in your life? What feels like it’s missing? Where are you least powerful? Where are your biggest opportunities for growth? You can uncover these in both the Wheel of Life and the Roles and Responsibilities, but may also already know the answer in your heart. Take a moment to just breathe, ask yourself the question "what do I want more of?" and listen for the answer.

As you do this, be sure that what you claim you want is really coming from YOU, and not from some outside source, influencing who you think you SHOULD be. Make sure these are your wants, not your mother’s, not your boss’, not your roommate’s.

Now you have in front of you a list of possible opportunities for setting a goal. The next step is prioritizing, and we'll cover that in the next post!

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