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Photo by K.C. © 2011 Kristin Conroy

By this time, we’ve all proclaimed our resolutions to our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers…anyone who will listen.  We mean well and want to stick with the beneficial resolutions we’ve set for ourselves, like working out five times a week, staying away from fried food, spending more quality time with the family, and saving more money.  However, without setting those resolutions into the deeper framework of your life, they are going to sound like mandates instead of goals you’ve voluntarily set for yourself. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being ordered around, even when I’m the one doing the ordering.

I have to…

I need to…

I should…

I must…

Those are not the most inspiring phrases.  These are more positive versions, don’t you think?:

I want to…

I will…

I see myself…

Which brings me to one of my resolutions:  I will go beyond resolutions, envision my Ultimate Life, and map out my goals for the next ten years in detail. Sounds like what you had to do in school, right?  What do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you see yourself in five, ten, fifteen years? Not quite though.  This goes way deeper and is much more powerful.

I attended my friend Donna’s Healthy Living class to get me unstuck after the tragedy I shared with you in Dealing with Grief.  In one of the classes,  she handed out a worksheet on goals.  Its purpose was to nail down what we wanted to accomplish in the next five years.

But before we could get to that, we had to envision our perfect life, one in which we were joyful, healthy, and truly content. What would that look like, in detail?  She encouraged us to describe the clothes we would wear, the home in which we would live, the career, the spouse, the family, the dog…whatever you wanted, as long as it got you giddy with excitement!  And it needed to be written in the present tense.  Writing about your ideal future life in the present (even if you’re nowhere near that) is exponentially more powerful than speaking about your future life in the future tense.

Then, with that juicy picture in mind, we worked backwards, asking ourselves “What do I have to accomplish five years from now to make that big picture a reality?”  Then, “What has to happen in the next year?”  We worked in reverse time until we had answered what we wanted get done in the next week.  If your Ultimate Life, for example, includes living in a luxurious five-bedroom house and enjoying a successful career as a world-renown, best-selling author (sounds good to me!), what steps would you have to take to get there?  A successful author must have written a top-selling book (or ten) that earns a small fortune, thereby enabling the author to buy that huge house.  Of course, those accomplishments don’t happen overnight, so what steps lead up to that?  Getting an amazing agent, editor, and publisher are involved, but before that, the book(s) must be written.  And a whole lot needs to happen before that.  You get the idea.

There’s quite a bit of effort involved in envisioning your Ultimate Life, but you can see how working backwards from there in specific detail will eventually uncover what needs to happen in the next week to start making your dream a reality. It’s a simple concept, but using this method has so much more ooomph behind it when you take the time to really see your desired future in colorful, detailed High Definition. 

Although resolutions are excellent, think bigger, farther, and more powerfully than that! Try imagining your Ultimate Life and setting your Big Picture Goals to begin immediately moving toward that life.  Our Ultimate Life vision may not turn out exactly the way we plan, and our Big Picture Goals may change, and probably will.  Because, let’s face it, life has a way of surprising us, and we don’t have a crystal ball.  But harnessing and focusing our energy into becoming the best, most successful, most joyful version of ourselves can only lead to amazing opportunities and an amazing life!

I made my own version of Donna’s worksheet here.  Download and print it, so you can start envisioning your Ultimate Life and get moving in that direction!

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