Beyond Resolutions

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!

Revisiting Those New Year’s Resolutions

Photo by K.C. © 2010 Kristin Conroy

We’re more than halfway through the year.  Can you believe it? As summer’s end looms over me, I’m experiencing feelings of slight panic. Am I still on track with those resolutions and goals I declared in January? Have I accomplished what I set out to do, or anything at all? Have I fallen out of a disciplined routine during these warm months filled with summer fun? Anybody with me on this?  I thought so.  Which is why I felt the need to write this post.

Are you living those resolutions and goals you made at the beginning of the year, or are they merely fuzzy, quasi-memorable images that you’ve tucked away in a dusty corner in your subconscious? Since most people dropped all pretenses of goals a while ago–maybe even by February–I thought it might be a good time to revisit our goals, adjust them if necessary, and enter the last five months of the year with renewed vision.

For the purposes of this post, “goals” refer to the steps you need to take to achieve your big-picture dream.  Not “lose 5 pounds”…unless your dream is to become a successful fitness model or prize-winning boxer!

If your vision for yourself has changed (or you find yourself on a new path)…

You need new goals! It’s time to chuck them and create new ones. Life changes–we change, circumstances change–so it’s reasonable that our goals would change too. According to your new vision, set appropriate goals, sub-goals, and objectives.  Don’t hold on to goals that have no benefit just because you committed yourself to them, or already put in a lot of time and effort to achieve them.  Useless goals gobble up your valuable free time and distract you from your dreams.  That’s no good!

If your goals aren’t serving their purpose…

A tune-up might be in order. If you’re not energized when you declare your goals, take a look at how you’ve worded them. Use active verbs and rich adjectives to create powerful messages. For example, if your dream is to be the lead singer of multi-platinum selling band, some of your goals may be find x# band members who share my vision and live, eat, and breathe music; connect with a manager who is passionate about our music and will fight for our band’s best interests; book x# gigs per month to gain valuable experience and a loyal audience who will recommend our music and follow us to the ends of the earth. I have no interest in that dream, but I’m kinda psyched just reading those goals!

If you got sidetracked from your goals…

It’s ok, it happens! Just find your way back. But first ask yourself why you wandered off the path in the first place. Were you distracted by other things (or useless goals)? Did you lose your confidence or positive attitude? Did you get a little lazy? Knowing why you detoured will help you find the solution to moving in the right direction.

If you’ve hit a brick wall (don’t know how to move forward toward your goals)…

Are your goals too overwhelming? I’m not talking about your big-picture goals (a.k.a. dreams)–go big with those!–but the goals that lead to them. Make your goals big enough to push yourself, but not so big that they’re unmanageable. You want to build your confidence, not destroy it. Break your goals into smaller steps, however small they need to be.  Affirmations can be useful tools to help you think positively and focus in on what you’re aiming to accomplish. If you carry out one little step each day,  you’ll have reached your goals before you know it!

Closing thoughts

It’s easy to forget/ignore/lose sight of our goals during summer, when we spend our free time at family gatherings, friends’ barbecues, on vacation, and enjoying outdoor activities.  All fun stuff, and much needed!  But after getting into a routine of a crammed social calendar–and letting our goals fall by the wayside–it’s hard to get back on track once summer is over.  Enjoy summer while it lasts, but don’t stop reaching for your dreams. Try to do a little something every day to get you closer to your goals.  That way you won’t lose your mojo, and it will be a lot easier to kick things into high gear once summer is over.

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2010 Is Rarin’ To Go…Are You?

© 2010 Kristin Conroy

It’s the New Year.  A time to get all those resolutions you put on paper into motion!  Some popular ones are:

  • getting back into shape (or start) after over a month of indulging
  • putting a stop to destructive behavior or less-than-helpful habits
  • organizing/re-organizing your life
  • learning something new
  • upgrading your view on life
  • making your priorities…well, priorities

I think some of us love the idea of a New Year because it’s as if our slate is wiped clean, it’s a fresh start–the whole year is ahead of us, bursting with possibilities.  I think some of us overachievers dread it because we’re planning to do a re-modeling project on every aspect of our lives…all at once.  I used to belong to both parties, but this year, I’m affiliated with only one.  And that’s the one that’s psyched for 2010!  Why no anxiety?  Because I have a different strategy, which is to do a little work on myself at a time, but do it continually throughout the year.  Kind of like cleaning your house a smidge every day–a counter here, a sink there–instead of having to spend a whole, overwhelming day trying to summon your inner Mr. Clean when it gets unbearably disgusting.

Maybe another resolution to add to our lists is being kind to ourselves (not to be confused with easy on ourselves).  And remember that when we take a step backward, it’s just that–one step–and it only takes a tiny step forward to get us walking (or possibly skipping?) in the right direction.  I’m going to think of this quote by Robert Brault when things aren’t flowing the way I’d hoped:  Optimist: someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha. And who doesn’t enjoy a good cha-cha?!

Here are some more quotes I’m loving for their thought-provoking and motivating messages.  I hope they inspire you to joyfully and courageously march into this New Year!

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.

~Little Gidding II, T.S. Eliot

The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.

~G.K. Chesterton

Photo by K.C. © 2010 Kristin Conroy

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.

~Henri Bergson

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

~Barack Obama

Photo by K.C. © 2010 Kristin Conroy

For the human mind is seldom at stay:  If you do not grow better, you will most undoubtedly grow worse.

~Samuel Richardson

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

~James Baldwin

In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

~Eric Hoffer

© 2010 Kristin Conroy

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

~Pablo Picasso

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

~Epictetus

© 2010 Kristin Conroy

Success will never be a big step in the future, success is a small step taken just now.

~Jonatan Mårtensson

Contemplation often makes life miserable.  We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.

~Nicolas de Chamfort

Great ones, right?  Feel free to share any quotes that are inspiring you right now or what you are hoping to accomplish in 2010.  I’ll be doing the same in future posts.  Let’s rock this New Year, shall we?!

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