Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy suggest that today you carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Ask yourself what are your hopes for the future now you have reflected on the year that has passed? But this year instead of resolutions, write down your most private aspirations of your heart. Imagine that a year from now you could be living the most creative, joyous and fulfilling life, what would it be? What changes would you make? How and where would you begin?
Kimberly Crossman in her book Love You: Be Your Best And Live Your Dreams says that she believes that it is mostly up to you what happens to you in your life and that the easiest and most exciting way to control it is through your dreams, wishes and goals. She believes that they keep you focussed on what you really want and desire. She believes that the first step to getting whatever it is that you truly desire is to define exactly what that is and that one of the most challenging things is finding what you are passionate about and what you cannot live without. When you allow yourself to realise what it is you are naturally drawn to, you can see where your talents and strengths lie. You need to find your talent, everyone has one, you just need to allow yourself to find it, it is your gift that is as unique as you are. It is the thing that you can do with ease (to a certain point) and that brings you joy. Don’t ignore it To ignore it is to ignore yourself, you were given it for a reason , follow it. The important thing is not to put too much pressure on yourself about finding your talent, it will come in a moment of clarity. Start by writing answers to the following:
- What makes you happy?
- What can brighten your day?
- What makes you feel alive?
- What couldn’t you live without?
- What excites you?
- What would you still want to do everyday even if you had no money?
- What Difference do you want to see in the world?
When answering these questions you should start to see some trends in the way you think or what it is you are drawn to. Now that you have found your passion and talent you need to make a wish and define your dream. Take a moment to reflect, clear your thoughts and really focus on what you want. Write it down, put it on a piece of paper, fold it up and put it somewhere where you can’t touch or change it. You will be working on it, but for now set it aside.
The next step is to create a vision board. There are a lot of different ways of doing these and it should be a fun exercise, Using magazines, clippings, photos, drawings and quotes, fill a board with everything you want to attract to your life. It might include a heart to symbolise love, a house, a destination, a smile, and other symbols, photos and images of what you want to attract into your life. Be creative and make a board that excites you. Put it somewhere where you can see it everyday. She suggests taking a photo and making it the screen saver of your laptop
A new year means a new set of goals and at the beginning of each new year you should write down what you want to achieve. The wish you wrote down earlier should give you an idea of your ultimate goal. Keep that ultimate goal clear and don’t change it. Take a piece of paper and list numbers 1-6 down the side and add the headings next to each number as below. Next to each of these headings write something that you would like to achieve in that area in the next 12 months. For Example:
- Family – Spend quality time with each family member individually or send handmade cards to all your extended family this year on their birthdays
- Friends – remember everyone’s birthday and send them a birthday card
- Career and money – write a book or land a role in a feature film or have x number of dollars in a savings account
- Relationships – schedule a date night with your partner once a month or go on holiday with your partner
- Travel – go to a music festival or go to japan
- Health and body – maintain your goal weight or run a half marathon
The trick is to make sure you are challenging yourself and to try to stay away from goals that you will achieve anyway with little or no effort. Be creative and throw in some exciting goals to drive you, ones that you may think are a bit far-fetched. Get a second piece of paper. At the top re-write your ultimate goal as though you have already achieved it and be specific. Now choose an emotion that resonates with you, if you were to achieve all of the points you have written down how would you feel? Under your ultimate goal write down the sentence “I am so (whatever emotion you choose) now that (whatever your ultimate goal is) Each of your 1-6 points will now become sentences, remember to change the tense of each point. Write each point as though you have achieved it. Your page should now have your ultimate goal at the top and then a paragraph starting with “I am so ….. followed by your goals. The next step is to date the page. Put the date exactly one year from today. Put this piece of paper somewhere you will see it everyday, such as the wall of your room and the background image on your phone, so your goals are really with you all day everyday. You should learn your goals by heart, this way when you glance at it you know exactly what it means. Your goals should excite you, drive you and give you purpose in your everyday life.
Now that you have clearly outlined what you want to achieve, you need to take action. You will never achieve your goals by just looking at them, you need to take actions that will move you towards your goals. The internet and books are full of information that can help put you in touch with the information you require. Do some research, Google, talk to people, introduce yourself, take a class, read a book and become educated about what you want to achieve. Whenever you feel doubtful or confused look at your vision board and read your goals, close your eyes and imagine what it will feel like when you have achieved these goals, that should get you back on track. While going through the process you must remember to be open and aware, the universe is pretty good at opening the doors for you. All the tools you need to overcome or achieve anything are found within you, the determination, the drive, the passion and the love. When you are following a dream there are certain initial obstacles that might stand in your way, most people have to give up something in order to follow a dream, usually you are giving up security and certainty, which is never an easy thing to do.
Your goals and dreams need to be balanced, with both intrinsic and extrinsic goals as they are both valid things to strive for.
Intrinsic Goals, are the ones that will bring you the most happiness, vitality and energy when achieving them as those goals are the ones that are about:
- personal growth
Extrinsic Goals, are more likely to come with feelings of anxiety and take more energy to maintain as they are driven by:
- material goods
It wont be easy and that’s the point, people often don’t talk about the struggles and the reality of what it took to achieve their dreams. Some days it is easy and some days it is hard, but if you are enjoying the journey and you are learning and growing, then it will be the right path for you. No Plan B, if you have a Plan B you are already convinced that Plan A is not going to work, as soon as you focus on having something to fall back on in case you don’t achieve Plan A, you are mentally preparing yourself to not achieve it. Work hard everyday so you never need a Plan B. When you really want to achieve there is a process.
- Hard Work, You must dedicate all you do to achieving what you are trying to achieve. You wont get it done if it is something you only work at every now and then. Make time and use that time productively. Find the answers you are looking for.
- Persistence, The only way you can fail is if you give up. Each wrong step you take will only give you greater knowledge and move you closer to what you are trying to achieve. The journey is as important as the destination.
- Fear, Putting yourself in unfamiliar territory can be frightening. You will look for safety and security. Trust that what you are doing is the right thing for you and is all part of a bigger picture. Refer to your vison board for a boost. Fear is just an illusion and is there to test you, how badly do you really want what you are working towards, can you overcome fear to get it?
- Doubt, At times you are bound to feel confused because you have put yourself out there which can make you feel incrediably vulnerable. Any negative thoughts at this time will only push you away from your goals. You need to keep that excitement, that passion that desire. Close your eyes and imagine having it all now, having it in abundance. It will help you re-focus.
- Action, One of the hardest things to do is to actually do. Many of you naturally want to know how you are going to do something before you invest in doing it. This is a stalling process. Stop planning, stop writting and start to do these things right now. There will always be something you can do. your first steps taken towards acheiving a goal are some of the most memorable ones. The negative thoughts will seem less daunting once you have started taking some action.
- Determination, When you work with passion it enables you to have unlimited energy to work tirelessly for your craft. There will be times when you will consider giving up. When you have those moments, it shows you how badly you want to acheive, it makes you hungry and provides you with clarity. Those experiences are taps on the shoulder to say “Hey you’re pretty close, are you sure you want this?” This is a cycle which will likely continue throughout your life as you become stronger and more excited and accomplish more.
Reaching your goals is such a fufilling feeling. Embrace your acheivements, cebrate, rejoice and acknowledge them. Reflect and Share. Then the next step is write new goals and start again. Once you reach what you set out to acheive, more exciting and bigger goals will be waiting for you. So enjoy the journey and experiences that come with following your dreams, they will make the destination that much more exciting and are how you create your memories. Life is too short not to follow your dreams, you should be doing something you love everyday.
Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project, she gives nine tips for keeping your resolutions (should you be that way inclined, I prefer aspirations and goals)
- Write it down, and be specific
- Review your resolution constantly, If your resolution is buzzing through your head it’s easier to stick to it.
- Hold yourself accountable, Tell people about your resolution, join or form a like-minded group, score yourself on a chart.
- Think big, Maybe you need a big change.
- Think small, don’t assume that only a radical change can make a difference.
- Break your main resolution, into manageable tasks
- Keep your resolution everyday, weirdly it’s often easier to do something everyday than every few days.
- Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, think baby steps
- Consider dropping a resolution, if you keep breaking it. Don’t let an unfulfilled resolution bloke you.
Annabel Langbein in her book A Free Range Life: Everything You Need For A Great Summer recommends the following list of twelve New Years Resolutions to save your pocket, your waistline and your sanity.
- Slow down & simplify
- Indulge in the fruits of the season. Make your indulgences healthy ones, bliss out on sweet apricots, peaches & cherries in summer, Feijoa & passionfruit in autumn, mandarins & persimmons in winter, strawberries & rhubarb in spring. For a simple fruit salad, slice fruit , scatter with walnuts or almonds & drizzle with honey.
- Try something new everyday. Challenge yourself to sample a new food, recipe or activity at least once a week, you never know what you might discover. Take the scenic route to work, eat raw kina, take a Pilates class. If it frightens you, feel the fear & do it anyway.
- Kick start your body clock. Pledge to meet a friend for a regular early morning walk, for added motivation, plan a route that lets you stop at your favourite café on the way home.
- Start with a clean slate. Throw out all those little pots & jars of sauces, jams, chutneys & dressings that have been sitting in the fridge all year & replace them with pickles & preserves made from this seasons harvest.
- Plan for fun. Devote at least one weekend a month purely to relaxation & fun, whether its booking a batch with a group of friends or hiring a box set of your favourite television shows & curling up for a staycation on the sofa.
- Spend time around the table. Make time in your busy days to enjoy rituals of daily life, cook together, light a candle & sit down to enjoy each others company. Create new traditions by inviting friends for Friday night drinks or the extended family for a weekly Sunday roast.
- Live in the moment. Take off your watch & observe & enjoy the natural rhythm of the day.
- Give a Little. Donate a few spare hours & dollars to helping someone else, whether it’s a charitable cause or just a friend in need
- Get your hands dirty. Get out in the garden & reconnect with nature. Start a compost bin or worm farm to give back to the earth. If you live in an apartment plant up pots of cheerful petunias & geraniums for your windowsill.
- Get into the smoothie habit. Start each day in a healthy way by blending up together a handful of fresh greens, a banana, a kiwifruit, a spoonful each of chia bran, almond butter & honey & some apple juice. Your body will thank you for it.
- Declutter your life. Put on some upbeat music & rid your home of a years worth of clutter. Sell your preloved items online or give them to a good cause & relish the sense of lightness that a good clean out brings.