Goal Setting: Overarching Theme

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November 11, 2012 by Darlene McC

It’s been a little while since we’ve talked about goals.  You’ve had a lot going on since the summer ended and the holidays are looming.  It’s really easy right now to think “I’ll pick it up in the New Year”, and that’s a valid viewpoint if that’s how you’re wired.  But the first few weeks of November create a lot of space for planning.  The season is shifting, we’re spending more time indoors, we’ve “fallen back” – it’s the pause between September’s hustle and the holidays.

In this pause you may not have time to completely re-haul your goals; but you can set yourself a framework for the New Year by contemplating your overarching theme.  If you hop into your Wayback Machine and flash back to Jr High English, the overarching theme is typically the main idea focused on in a literary work – but what about the work of your life?  Do you have a big idea you can hang your hat on?

(We’re getting a little deep today, I know.  Bear with me.)

If you’ve been with Urban Amazon for awhile, or you have your own personal goal-setting system, you’ve probably developed a few lists, categories, or “buckets” that you work from when you feel your life getting a little off track.  Depending on your system these mini-collections can become disjointed and sometimes it’s hard to prioritize when you’re feeling pinched for time.  At such times it’s good to have a focus statement, mantra, theme (or whatever else you want to call it) to help you sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Finding Your Focus

I know of two reliable ways to go about finding a theme/focus/mantra for yourself.  For me a top-down approach is essential; others may have to start with the details and scope out.  For either of these practices find a quiet spot where you wont be bothered for a little while and bring with you a scrap of paper and a pen in case you need them.  If you like to have your eyes closed do it, or if you need to gaze on something you like to look at that’s fine too.  I’ve recently taken to looking into my friend John’s photograph Alabama Arches which hangs in my home.  Take a few deep breaths, try to let go of anything that’s hounding you, and then move to one of the exercises below depending on your personal methods.

Top Down

“Top Down” people tend to focus on long-term goals, but day to day have little balance in action and have a hard time living in the moment.

If you’re a top down person begin to work “up” to what’s most important to you.  Literally begin to think “what’s the point of my existence?”  What is, for you, the reason you get out of bed in the morning.  This is not a question anyone can answer for you; the idea inherently has to come from you.

If you’re a theological or religious person it may be tied to your deeply held beliefs; if you’re not it may be tied to science and understanding.

If ideas come up that you don’t want to lose jot them down as simply as you’re able to.  Continue to refine and refine your ideas, simplifying until you’re able to get to the most basic idea of what your entire life should/is working toward.  From that core ‘nugget’ craft a statement that holds (or nearly holds) every goal, action, and project you’re working on personally.

If there’s a particular song lyric, poem, or statement that rings true to you that closely matches what you’ve been meditating on feel free to adopt it.

Bottom Up

“Bottom up” people tend to already feel balanced day-to-day, but are missing a feeling of long-term direction.  You may want to review your current goal list or trigger list before you get started, but that’s up to you.

Review the last few weeks and what you’ve accomplished, enjoyed, struggled with, and overcome.  Reflect on your family, close friends, hobbies, and habits.  As you move through your day to day routine themes, ideas, and repeated images may come up – jot down any ideas that really stick with you or seem to repeat themselves regularly.  As you focus on your day-to-day and week-to-week projects some ideas will become more powerful while others will be less important.  Making a collage or sketching things that come up may help.

From the most powerful and significant ideas that have ‘stuck out’, craft a statement that encompasses what’s most important.  It should be able to hold (or nearly holds) every goal, action, and project you’re working on personally.

If there’s a particular song lyric, poem, or statement that rings true to you that closely matches what you’ve been meditating on feel free to adopt it.

Work From Your Statement

I’m working on a new system that will tie in with the Urban Amazon Challenge to help you push yourself and find balance in 2013; but at the core of it will be your Overarching Theme.  For some Amazon’s that’s going to be a verse or two from their religious text of choice, for others it’s a simple statement about love and loving.  Whatever it is, if you’re looking forward to setting some goals with us in the New Year take a little time in the coming weeks to find your Overarching Theme, contemplate it for yourself, and see how it fits into your day-to-day life currently.

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3 thoughts on “Goal Setting: Overarching Theme

  1. […] Now, hopefully you didn’t get all “20′s-30′s-40′s-what’s-my-life-for” angsty on us; that wasn’t the intention.  As Amazons we’re planning for “Lucky 13″ to be a big year, HUGE even; and by starting with the question “Why are we here?” we’re creating the foundation for all the goal setting exercises in January 2013.  If you already have a personal focus statement to work from that’s awesome, you’re ready; however, if you didn’t get the chance to in November please go back now and get yourself a concise idea to work from. […]

  2. […] exercise is predictable if you’ve been following along.  So far you’ve created a focus statement, sketched some categories for goals, picked some things you want in life, learned the rules of […]

  3. […]  Today we’re finally going to set some goals for 2013!  So far you’ve created a focus statement, sketched some categories for your goals, some life goals, learned the rules of long-term goal […]

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