In Part I of ‘Tis the Season for Asking Powerful Questions, I shared a series of questions I use to assess my learning and growth from the previous year. After getting clear on these discoveries, I put them aside–for I know that what I’m meant to hold onto has been incorporated intellectually, physically, and spiritually—and then I go outline the year ahead. And when I say “outline,” I really mean that I go sit by some body of water, spray a lot of lavender, eat a cupcake (or 2 or 3), close my eyes, and ask the heavens: What’s going to be in the year ahead? How can I get out of my own way so that I can allow the plan for me to unfold? I let whatever comes up, come up…. and then I jot down my musings in a journal. Here is some of what spilled forth during last year’s “outlining” day:
-Laugh more often
-Proudly say I live in Las Vegas
-Publish a book
-Get interviewed on TV
-Buy a house
-Make a Greek dessert
Now, clearly not all of these items are of equal importance, nor have they all happened (I still have yet to make that Greek dessert), but 86% of the items on the list have happened and all 5 of my core goals (see below) will be achieved!!!
For the next part of this process, I reflect on my core values list–p. 50-52 in Awaken Your CAREEpreneur–ask the universe, and again listen, for which 5 of the 20ish things that previously came up move me towards better alignment with my core values. These become my goals or priorities for the next year.
I then pull out my planner and identify how on December 31st of the next year I’ll know if I succeeded in having achieved each of my priorities. For many of them are not items to check off a list. Last year, one of my top 5 included: live with more love and courage. (One of my grounds for assessment has been–walk away from conversations feeling I’ve communicated honestly and from a heart-centered place.) This area has been my greatest achievement (as far as I’m concerned this year), and being able to ask myself in situations calling for brave communication–Am I being honest and heart-centered?–has definitely empowered me to be the best version of myself.
Now, after getting clarity on my 5 priorities–which can be focused on any of the life spheres– I work backwards from the next December to January of the coming year listing any targets I feel are necessary to set for myself each month. (For a target to be set, I MUST have quite a bit of control over the outcome. For example, I can say I plan to call ____ people or attend ____ types of events. I’m not going to say I will have landed 3 national commercials or found my dream mate by a particular date. These kinds of goals are manipulative and set us up to fail.) I also plan in time each month to reflect on my progress, do some mini-celebration, and make any necessary tweaks to my priorities or design for living them.
Next, I grab a nice combo of business, home, lifestyle, and travel mags. I spend some time cutting out pictures, quotes, and articles that best represent my top 5 priorities and put them up on a big board that I hang in my office. And finally, I write a letter to myself congratulating Lex for who she’s become over the last year. I find writing this letter to be one of the most powerful visioning practices I engage in. It really creates a bridge from who I’ve been to who I’m aspiring to be…. and also illuminates necessary action steps that when I think in a linear way, I often overlook.
Whether you follow the exact outline proposed in this post, take a few of the exercises/practices that work for you, or follow your own or someone else’s practice, my hope is that you create the time necessary to intentionally close-out one year and make room for the next. And, just as importantly, prioritize goals in your development as a person (and in your roles as a child, parent, professional, leader, community member, etc.) over “stuff.” One of my favorite Marianne Williamson quotes, which I’ll wrap up with, is: “God laughs hardest when you tell Him your plans.”