My guide to creating goals you actually want

First, a reflection!

My year

This time last year I was facing the same frustrations in my full time job that I'd faced for a while. My employers had agreed for me to go part time, but it hadn’t quite begun and my former role had a few bits and pieces to tie up. 

I was still in London, Italy was calling, but I hadn’t laid yet made plans to leave. I was still drinking caffeine and eating ready meals. I could hardly speak a word of Italian and had no idea what it was like living in a hot country. 

This year was a big year for me firstly, going part time and starting my business, getting rid of so much of my ‘stuff’ (from half a flat to just a few boxes and suitcases), moving house, leaving my job and England for Italy, then the adventure since then, finding my way every day, earning money for myself, connecting with wonderful people, and hearing about their dreams. I’ve got to grips with running workshops, given a talk in front of 100 people and begun to feel as though some Italian words come almost as naturally to me as English ones (some!). 

Your year

What have you changed since this time last year? Think back to where you were, as we approached the end of 2013, what were you doing or thinking? How did you feel?

And what has come along for you in 2014? 

If you’re feeling a little panicky, as I have done so many times, reading people’s adventures through a newsletter, thinking “I’ve hardly done anything” - don’t be alarmed!

Reflect, even just on the opportunities you’ve had at work to see things differently, or read about someone who has inspired you. Don’t underestimate these small miracles - these 'shifts in perception'. I cannot tell you how many of these shifts have happened to me over the last fewyears - around finances, love, forgiveness, business and time, in my relationships and approach to life. 

As you reflect on 2014, consider how the year has gone. Here’s a few questions to help you.

  • What activities have you done this year (a little flick through some Facebook photos can help jog your memory - or, if you’re like me, the photos app on your phone)
  • What new friends have you made?
  • What relationships have you started - or ended - this year?
  • What new activities or ways of being have you tried?
  • What have you said goodbye to this year?
  • What can you do before that you couldn’t do last year?
  • What new places have you seen this year?
  • How has the way you think changed this year? 
  • Even the smallest amount of reflection can be illuminating - so it’s worth taking some time out. 

And then looking ahead to 2015, what would you love to say you’re doing? 

Creating goals you actually want

I've attempted lots of 'annual reviews' and goal planning over the last few years, and every year discover another approach or way to think about goals. 

This year, I’ve made a lovely goal list but with a difference.

Rather than the usual 'to-do' style list, for example:

  • Drink more champagne
  • Improve my Italian
  • Get some more speaking engagements

as finite, specific action goals, which point to the future, I've rephrased 'do' to 'be'.

I have written out my list to focus on the experience I want to have. To paint a picture of the life I want.

It starts with using the present tense rather than the future tense.

So rather than 'In 2015 I will be..' (which always sounds as though it's just around the corner)

I write: 'In 2015 I am…'

and then list each ‘goal' using the present continuous tense ( I am + verb with ‘ing’)

So, for example:

In 2015 I am...

  • Drinking champagne
  • Speaking Italian 
  • Sharing my experiences through speaking

You can then qualify the list even further by adding more adjectives or descriptors:

  • Drinking chilled champagne in the sun on the beach
  • Speaking Italian every day in Italy
  • Sharing my experiences through speaking to women and men who want inspiration to go on their adventures. 

Once you’ve created a little picture of how you want it to be, it makes working backwards from that goal much easier. Whilst ‘Improve my Italian’ might conjure up images of textbooks and headphones and vocabulary lists, 'Speaking Italian in Italy every day' creates the picture of me hopping on a plane, reconnecting with my friends and meeting new people, conversing with shopkeepers and chattting with my housemates.

You might say, but Claire, I'm not like you, I can’t move abroad Italy this year!

I would first say, don’t underestimate yourself but also shift your focus. If you can create an opportunity to have that experience - even a few days of speaking Italian every day in Italy can make all the difference. Yours might be 'Speaking Italian every day for a week in Italy'

My speaking engagements might be another crowd of 100, but it might just be a conversation with a couple of friends. It doesn’t matter, it’s all keeping me headed to my ultimate vision, and allowing me to experience life how I want to on the way. 

What will it take for you to experience the feeling your goal is going to give you? What experiences do you want to have in 2015? If you'd like to, please share in the comments below.

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