Friday, February 06, 2015


Quick Quiz:

Are your goals and dreams

(a) firmly planted in the forefront of your mind and reflected in your daily priorities?

(b) floating around somewhere in the back of your mind?

(c) pushed aside completely in the rush and pressures of daily life?  

If you answered “b” or “c,” then this post is for you.

For a lot of folks, setting goals can feel like creating a straight jacket for themselves, or like a way of setting themselves up for disappointment or failure.

The truth is that goal-setting is important, and can be both fun and liberating.  The path to achieving your goals should be full of joy, magic, adventure, mystery, and self-discovery. Yes, there is also heartbreak, hardship, and disappointment along the way, but when your goals are compelling enough, and you have a good support system in place, the challenges on the path do not seem as daunting.

The key is to use rituals, habits, and tools that make the road to achieving your goals inspiring, joyful, and interesting for YOU!

Everything here is food for thought, so pick and choose which ideas work for you.  At the same time, be willing to step a bit outside of your comfort zone! 

Set up your headquarters so that your workspace inspires you.  
What does your work space – the place where you make phone calls, send emails, work on your blog or website, paint, draw, dream, think – look like? How does it feel to you to be in that space?  If you are a person who works best without clutter, clear off your desk.  Use it as a work space, not a storage space.  That’s what filing cabinets and bookshelves are for!  If you are a visual person, surround yourself with images that uplift you. I like to keep my Dream Binder on my desk, along with greeting cards with motivational messages.   Sometimes I light a candle while I am writing. (I just have to remember to blow it out when I am done!)

Keep a Dream Binder with your big picture goals.
I buy a 3-ring binder at an office supply store, one with a clear plastic pocket cover so I can create my own visual.  First, I create a theme for the year.  You can do this by filling in the blank.  2015: The Year That  _____________ or The Year of ____________.  Examples:  The Year that My Big Dream Comes True; The Year of Collaboration and Creativity; The Year of Great Health.  Choose a theme that is exciting and compelling to you.

Then I complete this sentence:  The biggest thing I want to be and feel this year is _____________.

I then move on to set and write down key goals for these areas of life: living space; fun; creativity; family/friendships; well-being; work; finances.  Maybe there are categories that you would like to add to the mix.

I look at this binder at least once a month to help me keep the big picture in mind; I use yearly goals as a guide-post for my monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Set monthly goals
This year, I found a really great day planner called TheInnerGuide.  In addition to providing the conventional space to write in appointments and commitments, it also has pages where I can write down monthly priorities for each area of life.  I love this.  It makes me reflect where I truly want to put my attention and energy.  Each month, the planner asks “What results do you want to achieve this month? What specific actions do you need to take? How do you most aspire to be and feel this month? What thoughts do you need to embody to stay on track?” I take time before the start of each month to think and write about what’s really important in the next 30 days.

Set weekly goals
On Sunday night, I sit down and think about key areas of my life and write down what the priorities for each of those areas for the coming week.  

Set daily goals
At the end of each day, working off the weekly priority list, I make a list of goals for the following day and also create a rough schedule of what’s going to happen at what time.  Do I follow that schedule rigidly? No.  Within the world of  lists and goals, there is immense value in flexibility, serendipity, whimsy, and the following of hunches.  So if the to-list says “send follow-up emails” but I have an awesome idea for a blog post, I’ll save the emails for another time.

Drink daily doses of inspiration.
Pick a book - or two or three - that serves as a daily devotional for you. There are books with daily bits of inspiration that I look at at each evening when I am setting intentions.  One is Tama Kieves’ A Year Without Fear: 365 Days ofMagnificence.  There’s an inspirational message for each day of the year.  The other one is Julia Cameron’s TheArtist’s Way Every Day: A Year of Creative Living.  When I need some fresh ideas around goal-setting and goal-getting, I take a peek in Diane M. Scholten’s Be Your Own Life Coach: Dream It! Plan It!Do It!

Set up a dream team / support crew.
Isolation ranks high up there as a dream-killer. No one can go it alone.  We need people to give us feedback; we need practical advise; we need friends to cheer us on.  This can look all different ways.  You can get a coach or a mentor.  You can join or form a Meetup or mastermind group.  You can recruit a board of directors.

Work, think, and dream in the company of others.
Part of not going it alone, especially if you are a freelancer, an artist, or otherwise self-employed person, is to get out of the house.  Be around other people. Work at a cafĂ© or find a co-working space.  If you are an artist, find a place where other artists work.   

Keep a Gratitude Journal.
Ever hear that what you focus on expands?  Keeping a gratitude journal is a way of acknowledging the good things that are happening in your life, even (and especially) if the going is tough.  I used to think that a gratitude notebook was a corny, trite idea.  Then I started doing it and I got hooked.  I take one minute at the end of the day to jot 10 things I appreciate from the day.  It’s a nice note to end on before I hit the hay.

Act on hunches.
Sometimes, you will get ideas or intuitive insights that don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.  Listen and act upon them.

Pay it forward: help other people to go for their dreams.
It’s definitely great to pay attention to and get behind your own goals and dreams.  It’s also important to keep the flow of energy circular.  You can do this by backing other people to go for their goals.  Be a sounding board to someone who is trying to launch an idea.  Let someone know about an article or a book that would be useful to them in what they are trying to accomplish.  If you show up for a workshop or networking function, make sure you are listening to what other people are trying to accomplish.  Introduce people to each other. 

Thank people who help you along the way.
Whether it’s in person, or via email, text, phone, with flowers, a hand-written note, or a small box of chocolates, it is so very important to continually thank people for the large and small ways that they help you towards your goals.  If someone takes time to give you great business advice over coffee, be sure to not only thank them but also to keep them posted on how their advice or wisdom has served you well.  Everyone wants to know that they have made a difference in the lives of others.

Know that it is possible to get to where you want to be.
I know it sounds basic, but it’s so important to have faith in yourself, your goals and dreams, and in the idea that the universe has your back.

Image Credit: Lindsay Hopkins at Pen and Paint
Post a Comment