A New Year, A New Way to Set Goals
I spent the first week of 2014 in the mountains, taking long walks and thinking back on the good and bad of 2013, (working in Atlanta and Hawaii, visiting Monaco, losing my beloved dog Gatsby, my son starting preschool, having my second baby at home), and all that I want to bring into my life in 2014 (financial security, more joy, creating visual art, more outdoor adventuring). And in the soul-searching process of considering what goals to add to my list, I started to realize that New Year’s goal planning can feel a lot like spinning your wheels if you’re not sure WHY you’re adding each item to your to-do list.
we get to the end of the year with everything meticulously checked off our to-do list and a vague and confusing sense of burnout
Over the course of a year, you can end up checking everything off your list and still reach the end of the year without having done the things that truly energize you. Finding this article ‘Five Ways to Distinguish Your Calling from Your Ego‘ really helped me put it all in perspective, drawing attention to the one thing we need to get clear on before we ever sit down to write out our goals for the year. I recommend reading the whole thing, but this is one part that really stood out to me:
“Ego not only breeds on anxiety, it requires anxiety in order to decide which aspects of your personality will be dominant, and which ones will be dormant. A calling, on the other hand, is discovered through observation and reflection, which is rarely found in a noisy environment. Listening to your life and discovering what it’s asking of you is your calling and it requires more silence than most of us are comfortable with. Because a calling is an expression of your true nature, it can only end in fulfillment. You know that feeling of deep satisfaction when you’re doing something you absolutely love, that’s an aspect of your calling showing itself to you.”
In my twenties, my year ahead plans were jam packed and I was always busy busy busy. I now realize, much that was on my list was slightly pointless. Perfectly organized recipe binders, anyone?
a calling is discovered through observation and reflection, which is rarely found in a noisy environment
I got SO MUCH DONE and had a lot of external fluff to show for it, (ego), but the must-dos and absolutely-have-tos weren’t tied in to a real sense of why (calling). And after spending some quiet hours reflecting on what really motivates me, what really makes me want to get up in the morning, these are the three questions that I plan to ask myself this year before embarking on any new task and putting yet another thing on the proverbial plate:
1. Why is this one of my goals?
2. How is this going to make me feel?
3. Is this only on my list because I think I ‘should’ do it?
This is the thoughtfulness I think can be missing in a lot of my goal-setting. Do you feel the same? We get to the end of the year with lots to show, everything meticulously checked off our to-do list and a vague and confusing sense of burnout before January arrives, and it’s time to start all over again. What if we challenged ourselves to make every action really count to bring us closer to our overall life goals and purpose?
This year I’m challenging you to look at your plans for the year ahead and think carefully. How many of those things will give you a real sense of fulfillment? Obviously there are daily life tasks that we have to do just because, well, we have to,
sometimes the things that truly serve us and create change are the quietest
like drive the kids to school, get groceries, buy toothpaste, etc., but are the things on your ‘Big Picture/Must Accomplish’ list tasks that truly give YOU pleasure and aren’t necessarily about something you can write in your Christmas newsletter? Because sometimes the things that truly serve us and create change are the quietest. The hardest to share. Impossible to include in a newsletter.
This year I challenge you to fill up your goals not with ‘to-dos’ but with ‘can’t do withouts.’
Here are more links to help jumpstart your inspiration:
Susannah Conway’s 2014 Goal-Setting Template
10 Inspiring Small Desk Spaces from Houzz
Six Ways to Streamline Your Email
I’d really love to hear from you about your goals and plans and dreams for 2014!