What’s your vision for your life? And what are you actively doing every day to move towards that vision?
Not really sure? You’re not alone. Many people don’t even think of creating a strategic vision for their life, but instead drift from day to day with no idea of what they want to do with their life. Or perhaps they might have a good idea of what they want, but they don’t act on it or make any progress towards achieving it.
Don’t let that be you! Life here on earth is very short. We need to make sure we’re strategic about the way we design our own life to make sure we are focusing on the right things and making the most out of it!
Pick your goal setting day now
For the past few years, I’ve been taking an annual day to do nothing but think about my life goals and create my action plan for the year ahead (and beyond).
When I first considered doing this, I struggled to see how I could possibly take a day out with my work schedule, but I made it happen and it was so worth it. It completely changed how I live my life each day! You might think I’m overstating it, but I’m not.
And I can’t overstate how important it is that you do the same: choose your day now and book somewhere so you can go and plan strategically how you want to live the rest of your life (the sooner the better – the end or start of a year is always a good time).
This blog will detail the process you can follow to make it an effective day and hone in on the goals that matter to you and the actions you then need to schedule.
You can also click here to download the free guide that comes with this blog including a recap of the checklist for your perfect goal-setting day, and worksheets to define your core values and set your goals and actions list.
The result will almost certainly be that you feel challenged yet optimistic, with a much clearer focus and direction for your future.
Defining your goals in this way will also set your subconscious to work on finding you opportunities to achieve them.
Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Pick the right location.
You need to go somewhere different. Don’t try this in your office or in the living room with the kids running around. You’ve got to get yourself away from your regular routine to free your mind up to focus. It helps to make it special if you can. I now do a spa day, and it’s something I really look forward to as a result. I book myself in for the day with a treatment or two and work on my goals in the cafe or quiet areas in between some serious relaxation! You might prefer to go to a country house and mix walking in the ground with goal setting in their cafe. Or to a different town to hop from coffee shop to coffee shop. Or to book a hotel room. However you do it, be creative and make sure it’s somewhere you’d enjoy.
Step 2: Before you work on your goals, define your values
A few years back, I’d have immediately started working on goals such as my company revenue targets, product mix, staffing or other things. While that might have been familiar and easier for me, it wasn’t going to help me to live a better life.
Instead you have to dig deeper and identify your values; what’s most important to you in your life? Once you’re clear about your values it makes goal setting and decision making so much easier. Explaining how to do this is a topic for a blog in itself! But here are some tips on how to do this:
- A favourite method out there is to write your own obituary. I’ve always struggled with this idea although I had a go once – it was clear to me that love and family was what would matter to me at the end of my life. I’m not sure I got much more out of it than that but it did start my thinking about shifting the balance from too much work to prioritising my family more.
- Spend some time thinking of occasions when you were happiest, most fulfilled or very proud and really dig down into them. What had you done that created those feelings and why? Keep digging into what it was that really triggered those feelings. Start to identify them with a list of key words, group those words together into themes.
- Identify the top 5-10 words or phrases for your values and then move them around until the priority order feels right. To help you start, here are the values I came up with when we worked through this at the hugely enjoyable Get the Life You Want seminar:
- Love and support / close family
- Health and vibrancy
- Enjoyment, adventure and fun
- Freedom – how I spend my time and financial freedom
- Success and achievement
- I also had some other ideas such as holidays and experiences but they were more material and could come under both love and support as well as enjoyment, adventure and fun).
Step 3: Identify your key life areas
I got this from the fantastic motivational trainer Brendon Burchard who identified his ‘life arenas’. I’ve since adapted them and you can do the same to suit your life. But what I loved about his training was that he suggested our purpose in life is as simple as just making each one of these arenas better. That idea has really resonated with me and it felt like it took a lot of pressure off around ‘finding your true purpose’. Of course you still have to work in each area to define what your goals are and what you’re aiming for, but improvement and progress overall is basically what we’re seeking.
My key life areas:
- Hobbies / fun
- Material / finances
- Spirituality (not necessarily of the religious kind… more about how in touch with your own inner wisdom you are, although it can mean religion for you also)
- Personal growth
Step 4: Start journalling or writing ideas and lists for each key life area
For each of the key life areas above, you need to invest some time doing some ‘blue sky thinking’. I love to start with the question of ‘If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?’. This takes the fear away from any of your ideas that you might think are crazy or beyond you. It’s important to focus on the most ambitious visions or ideas that you can possibly think of without judgement.
Think of things that make you happy and that you enjoy, or the outcomes you want in each area. Then ask why again to drill down deeper. For example I wanted to ‘feel healthy’ so questioned why over and over to get a stream of ideas such as: So I feel better; So I can live longer and independently; So I can remain energetic for my kids and my grandkids etc. Put down any ideas or thoughts you come up with.
You can also think about things that you haven’t enjoyed or have really struggled with and look at how you might change the situation, the way you deal with it or remove it from your life. Just keep thinking and writing and it will start to flow.
When I first started I didn’t really know what to write so I started journalling or free writing to see what came out and it turned into ideas that I could then develop.
Step 5: Collate your ideas into a clear plan for each key life area
For each key life area, do the following (and I’ve included an example of my recent goals from my key life area of ‘health’ ):
Vision: Articulate your vision (as if you’ve already achieved it).
My example: I am a fit, lean and healthy person who is full of energy.
Why: You’ve got to connect each vision to why you want to achieve this. Doing so helps you make sure that your vision makes sense and is right for you – you should be able to very quickly identify why and if you can’t, keep working on that vision to dig deeper and figure out what you truly want.
My example: To live a long, healthy, independent and energetic life so I’m living life to the fullest. And to be there for my kids, grandkids and great grandkids and never be a burden on them but instead to be an inspiration to them.
If you haven’t already done it, you can check out my blog where I explain a very powerful technique for connecting to your why that can really kickstart the motivation you need to help you take action towards that vision.
How: I put the big picture goals here to give an overall view of the direction I need to take or continue.
My example: Maintain my fitness as a lifestyle choice, continuing classes and personal training for strength and cardio, and yoga for flexibility. Continue to develop my optimum nutrition aiming for body weight of 48kg and body fat of 19% (It’s not too ambitious now as I’m at 51kg and 22%). Invest more time in meditation.
Actions: This can be a short or very long list depending on what you come up with, but write down any ideas you have about what you might be able to do to move towards that goal. Try to make sure each one is measurable.
Some of my examples:
- Continue minimum three days per week of exercise
- Four mornings a week minimum of yoga, adding hip flexor and IT band stretches
- Use the DNAfit results to adjust the macros in my diet and track with MyFitnessPal
- Drink minimum of six glasses of water each day / aim for eight
- Research and book a meditation course and commit to a 10 minute practice five times a week.
- And so on… (I have many more actions in this area!)
Step 6: Move actions to your calendar to make them actionable!
A plan is no good if you don’t take action! Even having your list of actions written down isn’t enough. You need to work them into your calendar and make them part of your plan for the year ahead to ensure you make progress.
Look at your list of actions for each key life area and decide:
- Which are recurring tasks (i.e.: to be repeated daily, weekly, monthly or annually)
- Which are actions that could go on your current or short term to do list?
- Which actions need to go into a future planning list? What would be the actions you need to take in the next month, next quarter, next year, next five years etc.
Then put those actions in the right places!
There are so many personal organisation or to do list systems out there (and I’ve experimented with so many of them over the years!). My recommendation is that as well as your current to do list, you also have a monthly page that you can use to document the things you need to achieve each month for the six+ months ahead. For me I’ve created my own electronic Bullet Journal on the iPad but you might use a different to do list or even paper.
But here are the key additions I put on my month-by-month planner to ensure all the actions from my goal setting day are captured and put into the right timeline:
- Goal actions (Example: booking a meditation course is in my December actions for an early next year course)
- Recurring tasks (my list of regular actions are here such as meditation x 10 mins x 5 days/week, drink 6-8 glasses of water daily etc.)
- Additional sections that suit. For me I added a section to each month for ‘Monthly Family Day Trip’ as a heading (one of my goals is to make sure I scheduled this at a minimum with my kids), and I also added a Kids Key Activity (such as teaching the eldest to cook a roast).
You can also set up reminders and deadlines in your calendar, including a reminder to review your goals visions each month and your actions for the month ahead.
It may take you some time to figure out the best system for you, but the key thing to keep in mind is that you have to take action in order to make progress and feel satisfaction.
If you’re worried about motivation, you can revisit my blog to help kick start your motivation – getting your mindset right is key to supporting you in your aims.
What to expect the first time you do this
You might feel somewhat overwhelmed when you first sit down to plan. But just know you’re taking the first important steps and you will make progress.
Your first go at this may not be perfect. The first time I did a goal setting day, I ended up with copious notes, some very solid ideas, a much clearer vision for some areas of my life, but some areas were less clear or defined. You can then continue to work on them in the weeks and months after, further refining those ideas and adjusting them. It took me a while to figure out what worked and didn’t work.
But my most recent goal setting day (last week at a lovely spa!) was so much easier. This time, I knew the approach to take, and I found that I was already pretty satisfied with my vision for several of the key life areas. Instead my work was focused more on revisiting the why and how for each of my visions and then revising the list of actions for each. It’s always good to do a review of the past year too to recognise all that you’ve accomplished.
On occasion, I realise that previous goals are no longer in line with my vision for life, and so can be removed. I’ve also found that over time, while I may not have completed every action, I often found alternate ways to achieve the same goal. As an example, I knew that I wanted to get fitter and had done a fair amount of bike riding before, so one of my actions back then was to learn new routes around Salisbury Plain for bike rides. Turns out, I didn’t do any bike rides but very soon after that particularly goals day, I had an opportunity to join a gym with friends, which I leapt as a way to achieve my goal. I’ve since found that doing group fitness classes works for me incredibly well. So it wasn’t the action I had planned, but with flexibility, I still achieved my goal.
I also found that a few actions I’d been stuck on over the past year were suddenly triggered by the review as I recognised their importance and found myself acting on them very quickly.
An example of this is that I’ve been feeling more and more concerned about my kids’ nutrition. They rarely want to eat what I plan for myself and my husband and often default to pasta and sauce or worse, cereal for breakfast. I’d been letting it slide but in my goals session I identified this as something I wanted to improve – I’ve focused so much on nutrition personally but it’s not translating into helping my kids lead a healthier life. The next day I was watching a show about the impact of sugar and poor diet on human health and my eldest son came in and watched some. He made a comment about how he didn’t want to suffer from those health problems and because (I believe) my subconscious had been programmed to tune into this I leapt on it as an opportunity. I ended up having a wonderful conversation with him where he felt motivated to improve the way he ate instead of resisting everything I was saying. And he’s been doing it! This in turn will help my younger two who are very influenced by what their big brother says and does. I couldn’t believe I made such progress on this just one day later.
Now’s the time: Book Your Day!
My goal setting days have helped me to make so much progress in many areas of my life that weren’t even on my radar before. As always, there’s still work to be done. But overall I feel much calmer, more satisfied with my progress, and like I’m living with a clear sense of purpose as a result.
So I urge you to do the same. Look at your calendar now and pick a date, book yourself in somewhere and go for it!
This blog will hopefully help you get there quicker as you have the steps defined and you can use my templates to help you document the results. Good luck and let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Originally published at www.thelifereporter.com