Tuesday, December 31

A Yearly Vision Process

I’ve noticed that goal setting has been taking a bit of a beating on the blogosphere as of late.  Still, I’m a big fan of intentional future planning with specific outcomes attached. 

I don’t know what it is about the process that excites me--especially though not only at the start of a new year-- but I suspect that reviewing the past and planning the future gives me a sense of fresh-start and possibility.  But I also get the Zen / Buddist concepts of Letting Go of Desire and Embracing Acceptance Of What IS!  And so, in our mad, treadmill world, I understand why there's a big push this year for freedom from the tyranny of goals.  But maybe it's possible to have both.  Personally, I like having envisioning my future desires, identifying concrete goals and holding it all with a sense of lightness, curiosity and acceptance. Both/And, baby! 

That said, if you do want to head full on towards no goals, Leo Babauta’s The Best Goal is No Goal offers some wise inspiration.

Joe and I have been doing a Yearly Review and Design process every December for the past 15 years.  Every year it’s a little different; Here are some of the 2014 elements:

Past Year Review

Reflection is such an important part of growth and I love to look back over my Yearly Reviews to see the patterns and to recognize parts of my journey.  Some of the questions we ask include:

What were the primary events?  
Where were we? (where did we live or what traveling did we do?)  
What were the landmark personal and work events?  
Who spent time in our home with us?  
Which of our relationships began, changed or ended?

And...what did we learn?  As a MetaLearning fanatic who loves and supports life-long learning, taking stock of the past year’s lessons gives self-direction some serious legs.  A couple of inspiring examples are Carson Khan’s 33 Takeaways of 2013 and Meredith Perry’s Jigsaw Falling Into Place.

Next Year Visioning

After the review, we look towards the coming year.  If it’s suits your style to keep it SUPER simple, consider Susan Washington’s suggestion of just one resolution such as asking yourself a daily question like:

“How could I have been more thoughtful today?” Let that be our New Year’s resolution even though it’s really 'simple'. Simple things repeated over and over are major. Because resolutions that aren’t maintained make us feel worse than small, lasting and meaningful change.”

I love that!  I’m absolutely a person who admires the wisdom of simplicity but for better and for worse (believe me!) can’t seem to keep from adding, adding and adding more to it.  So here is what my process includes.  

A Yearly Theme: One of the overarching steps I like to take is to create a theme for the year.  
This puts the primary emphasis on process while still allowing space for specific outcomes.  I haven’t completely decided on my theme for this year but I’ll probably choose between Emotional Resiliency, Joy or Completion.  

Focus and Intentions: These are concepts and values will ideally support or augment the Yearly Theme.  This year I’m looking at Focus, Completion, Ease, Love, Humor, Good-Enough and Random Acts of Kindness.  Some years I come up with a different one for each month.  

Identify Domain-specific goals:  We do this for ourselves individually, as a couple and for our family-- in each of the following domains: Relationship/Marriage, Home, Kid Education, Finances, Community, Work, Fun, Travel, Personal Development, Self-care, Family and Contribution.

Specific Outcomes:  These are my primary goals for the year and I feel that it’s useful to be specific while also holding the final outcome and the details of how it looks somewhat lightly.  This might seem counter-intuitive but I think there is power and beauty in this seeming contradiction.  

I generally come up with specific goals in each domain but this year I'm keeping my eye on the top three biggies, my primary goals which are:

1) Publish a book (probably “MetaLearning”)
2) Compete in a ballroom dance competition (probably Mambo or Rumba)
3) Launch a new product (probably “Rock Your Talk” video class)

Processes:  One of the primary reasons some might reject the concept of Resolutions is that they are so heavily associated with Dec 31st and the implication is that you only make ‘em once a year. While as I said, I especially love the fresh slate of the new year, planning this stuff works best if you have systems and processes in place throughout the year.  James Clear outlines his approach in Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

Some of the ongoing processes we use through the year are:

Family Goals: Every day we hold a family meeting in which we each identify a goal for the day which and then we set out to achieve it by 9pm the same night.   More details on the process are outlined in this article I wrote for Techmamas.

Daily Habits:  Cultivating what you do on a daily basis is a perfect example of systemizing for success.  It’s not about being perfect but rather about paying attention to the small steps that add up.  I use a spreadsheet to outline and track habits I’m working to cultivate but you can also use an apps like LIFT.

Monthly Focus: At the beginning of the year I make a plan for the progression of the year with a general focus for each month.  At this time I also review the goals I've identified and revise them if needed.

Quarterly Review: Each quarter Joe and I go back to our year planning document and review our progress in each domain area.  We check to see if we made progress or not and revise each area as appropriate.  

I compiled this information while going through my 2014 process and put it all together so that others could use whatever parts of it appeal to them.  If the New Year has already begun, don't worry, it still works.  That's the beauty of throwing out New Years Eve resolutions; Life planning, review and creation can be a part of daily life throughout the year!  

No comments:

Post a Comment