January 2, 2013 by Darlene McC
I have a personal vendetta against resolutions. They’re like sweat shop t-shirts. Seems like a good idea at the time. They look good on the rack – they even look good on YOUR rack – until, after a couple weeks and a few washes, they fall apart at the seams and you feel bad about yourself for your part in it.
Resolutions are cheap & weak – without a plan to back them up they provide an easy out that lets you off the hook. As Amazons we have little use for that. For 2013 UA is going to do you one better – meaning you’re going to do one better for yourself… tuck yourself in: it’s 2013 goals time, my friends.
Way back in November you were asked to think about a really big question:
What is the point?
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.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and, for the first time, share mine:
I believe that sentient life is the universe trying to understand itself, regardless if “the universe” is an all powerful being or literally physical matter seeking understanding (it is beyond us as humans to ever know). As such, it is my mission in life to learn everything I can about myself and the world around me and to help others do the same.
Go ahead and seek your own center… got it? Good. Then hold on loosely, but don’t let go.
Here are a few principles that are going to make this system more effective from the get-out.
1. Top Down Goals
This is a “top down” system. I’m going to ask you some major questions about yourself and the trajectory you’re on. Don’t worry, you only have to answer for yourself. You’ll want to step back, reflect, and take a little time to answer them. We’ll start with the big picture, projecting way out into your future, sketching out the frame lines and coloring in the details later. Each post we’ll work closer and closer to 2013 so you can really zero in on building the life you want instead of stabbing in the dark. (New posts on this project will be made on Tuesdays and Thursdays in January.)
2. Customization Is Key
The ideas I’ll be posting here will be very general. You have full reign to throw out anything that doesn’t work for you – because what works in my head isn’t going to be perfect for your head. Be willing to over-ride anything I say with what you believe. That can mean making extra categories, splitting ideas, adding extra steps or timelines, or anything else that comes up. This process is about YOU. Feel free to modify it as necessary and please share those ideas in the comments to make it more effective for everyone playing along at home.
3. Be Willing To Throw It Away
A possible scenario: you start down this path, set some life goals, and in 2 weeks when we’re working on your weekly goals you realize you have absolutely no interest in what it would take to become a world-class tri-athlete like your original life goal said. SO WHAT! Don’t beat yourself up – just throw that goal away! Let it go! You didn’t fail because you changed your mind, you set yourself on a better path to happiness.
Be willing to throw out what you do not need.
Time to get into the gritty, gals. Today we’re going to start with the big ticket items. Your Life Goals. The things you will regret having not attained when you’re 97. I’m not going to throw you straight to the wolves though, we’ve got a little prompting first to get you started. I’ve outlined 8 major categories in which we’ll be working for the next 4 weeks.
YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO MAKE CHANGES! Please, please, please – split these into subdivisions. If your family consists of you and your yellow lab you are probably content with one umbrella FAMILY category; but if you live next door to your parents, have 5 kids, a husband, and a dependent sister then you need to break it down a bit, right? An atheist may not need a SPIRITUAL column (and could choose to replace it with ethics or philosophy), but if you’re starting seminary this fall it’s kinda a big deal. Make these what you need them to be.
Take a moment to assess if this list is cohesive enough for you and your life. If not, make changes… and know you can come back to it and tweak whenever necessary.
- Spiritual/Philosophical /Ethical
- Education/knowledge/skills for fun or hobby
Set your categories (or your vague idea of categories), check back with your personal statement, and then get ready to dream of what your life could be (cue Anne Hathaway).
What’s the Big Deal, Camille
For each of the categories you’ve selected it’s time to set some goals. Where do you want to be? What do you want to see and do? These are not set in stone and are not easy to come by, which is why we’re giving you the weekend to get started.
Focus on the big picture. Sketch the outlines. We’ll get to filling in the details later.
Cozy up to a notebook this Saturday, pull this teaser list up on your tablet, and write out what you might want your goals to be. May I also suggest, for those of you with a steady life partner, that you make them part of this process? Talk to them about their goals and aspirations and see if you can build a family life plan together.
For each of the goals you come up with, check back with the core idea you wrote for yourself. Do they sync up? If not, why? How can you shore them up to one another?
Family is a big one because it’s so plastic across cultures and experience. Keep what you need, dump what you don’t.
Even if you plan to live your life as the eternal bachelorette, what do you want for yourself? Or your household? Your extended family? Is seeing your parents once a month essential? What about a good relationship with you sister/brother/step-something/cousin/grandmother? If you want to be a mom, what kind of mom do you want to be? What kind of wife/daughter/sister/friend do you want to be?
And what if you don’t want these people intravenously injected into your life? Is setting boundaries important? Will it be down the road? Do you want your mother in the room when you birth your children, or is it okay if she’s just outside? Does your dad live with you in his golden years or not? Consider where the boundaries lie and if part of your goal system means getting to the place where you set them.
Family doesn’t only have to mean blood relatives. If the label of “family” makes you uncomfortable when applied to friendship you can also add a FRIENDSHIP category.
Are your pets family? How do animals fit into your life and what do you want for the animals in your life during their lifetimes.
What would it take, in terms of your family, to feel fulfilled in your long term goals?
What kind of home do you want to live in? Do you want to own your own, rent, have multiple houses? What does the ideal home look and feel like to you?
What would it take, in terms of your home, to feel fulfilled in your long term goals?
Are you going to work forever, or retire the first chance you get? Do you want to put all your kids through college? Or have show dogs? A sports car or a travel fund? What role does money play in your life?
What would it take, in your wallet, to feel fulfilled in your long term goals?
Spiritual/ Philosophical/ Ethical
Does god/God/something have an important role in your life? Do you want to raise your family in a certain faith? Does your faith have goals for you, such as reaching heaven or nirvana? What about just having a calm and focused mind, or finding the peace in what you do? Or do you want to learn as much as you can about world religions?
As an atheist do you believe in contributing to the whole in some significant way? What drives you ethically? Are there philosophical ideas/ideals you want to explore?
What would it take, in your spiritual life, to feel fulfilled in your long term goals?
Do you still want to tap dance when you’re 80? Want to be a senior citizen running marathons? Or just avoid the family history of high blood pressure and heart attacks? Does your family have a history of cancer? How can you lower your risk?
Is one of your goals to live as long as possible? (For me this ties back to my personal statement a LOT, but it may be different for you. That’s okay.)
What would it take, for your body or health, to feel fulfilled in your long term goals?
What do you want to learn for fun or gratification? Are education and knowledge purely for social and professional advancement, or is the pursuit of knowledge essential to you? (Again, for me this ties back strongly to my personal statement.)
What knowledge would it take to feel fulfilled in your long term goals?
What do you want to be when you’ve grown all the way up? Is owning your own business important, or do you want to have a job that makes you comfortable and that’s enough? Do you have to be living your passion? Does the business you already own need to be very successful or are you content?
What would it take, professionally, to feel fulfilled in your long term goals?
Enough of the heavy stuff!
What kind of adventures do you want to go on? This can be as simple as one statement or it can be “do my bucket list” and the list is over 100 items long. Do you want to visit every continent? What about specific locales? How about seeing every “America’s Largest…”? Or every National Park? Climbing the 10 tallest peaks? Scuba diving the deepest anyone has ever gone? The possibilities are endless.
What cool stuff do you want to have done, seen, tried, eaten, experienced, or at least attempted to feel fulfilled long term?
No doubt after all that prompting you’ve got quite a list on your hands. Now let’s pull back a little and refocus on the original exercise: Life Goals. From all the ideas you’ve jotted down, what are the very high level goals that jump out for each of these categories? There can be as few or as many as you need for each one; but down the line we’re going to divide each life goal into smaller and smaller bits to help make sure you get there.
Once you’ve got your list ready tuck it by your computer. In Tuesday’s post we’ll have some tools to help you further clean up your list, as well as the next step in making 2013 the most productive year you’ve had since Jr High.
You can find the next step in our January 2013 Goal Setting Extravaganza at What Amazons Want: A Crash Course in Goal Setting