A fresh start is something we all long for, whether 2018 left you in the clouds or at the bottom of the barrel. One of the things I love most about January is the momentum to return to the drawing board and consider which daydreams we want to dust off and put into motion.
I used to be very regimented with goal planning, to the tune of spending about $100 on a goal planning workbook, pretty pens, and magazines for a vision board, but I realized this wasn’t in alignment with my needs. It created feelings of guilt and limited my freedom to pivot as life inevitably took its twists and turns.
Instead of setting goals this year, I’m setting a list of how I plan to be more fully myself in 2019. The problem with resolutions is that we approach them from a place of lack, thinking that there’s something wrong with us or our lives and that we’ll be happier once we’ve “arrived.” By resolving that I’m enough and have everything I need, I can move forward without attachment to the outcome. See the difference? It’s about the journey.
Below is the simple 4 step process I use to decide what I want to set my heart on this year & my personal list of dreams for 2019.
1. Get crystal clear on what you want
Most of us have driving desires, whether it’s close friendships, adventure, confidence, growth, a strong marriage, a connection to God, or to use our gifts. When I’m deciding what direction to go in a new year, I get really quiet so that I can gain clarity on which areas I’m feeling called in. For me, this means lots of journaling, prayer, and meditation. Then, I write down what my life might look like if I had a magic wand in each area. If this seems silly, it’s supposed to! When we let ourselves dream like children, it activates a different part of the brain. If you notice thoughts like “this is dumb,” or “this is selfish,” or “none of this will happen anyway,” just let it go and get back into that playful, childlike space.
2. Make a list and write your whys
Reflect on what you wrote down and notice any patterns. My dreams typically fall into categories like relationships, marriage, career, recreation, health/wellness, and spirituality. I’ll write down what I want for the year in each and connect the desires with a strong why. My why is usually a personal value because values give us lasting inspiration. For example, I might write “Produce consistent content through my blog because I feel fulfilled when I am using my creative skills to serve other people,” or “Follow a budget because I value contentment and want to save for fun adventures and our future family.”
3. Support it with realistic action steps
Write down specific action steps that are in alignment with each dream. Using a classic new year’s resolution example, you may have written “Release weight because I want to feel confident in old clothing and love myself by giving my body the nourishing foods and movement it needs,” but don’t set action steps like “fit in skinny jeans” or “weight X lbs by certain date.” Focus on what you can control. For example, “I will drink 90 ounces of water a day,” or “I will attend three exercise classes each week.” This isn’t about perfectionism, it’s about caring enough about yourself to make changes. You will naturally move in the direction of your dream – not because something is wrong with you but because your actions are finally in alignment with the person you feel called to be.
4. Visualize, connect with yourself, and pivot as needed
The way to not let daydreams die after January is to connect with yourself daily. After I pray and journal each morning, I do about 20 minutes of visualization. This practice really turned me off when I was first encouraged to try it, but once I noticed what a powerful impact it had on my day, I didn’t look back. There have been studies that prove that people who pair taking action with visualizing themselves achieving their dreams make more progress. Michael Jordan is a classic example. I’m not talking about “manifesting” or saying this is anything magical. But when we visualize ourselves becoming the person we long to become (a more caring mother, a successful creative, less anxious in social situations), we connect with the feeling that being that person would produce and literally retrain the pathways in our brains. I encourage you to try it!
My Dreams for 2019
I thought it’d be fun to share my intentions for the year and the action steps I plan to take. These are the things I’m feeling deeply called to and will encourage me to grow into the person I feel I was created to be. Here’s what’s on my list for now:
- Relationship with Self: Grow in my trust in and knowing of myself and my ability to say “yes” and “no” authentically because when I make time to meet my needs I feel exponentially more energized to give to others.
- Action Steps: Morning pages, meditation, deep breathing, recognize when I am being harsh with myself.
- Home and Environment: Wrap up interior design on our home and install more greenery outdoors so that we David and I can use our gifts of hospitality more freely.
- Action Steps: Install plants in the spring, make quick design decisions
- Relationships: Cultivate new, deep friendships and invest time and attention in old friendships because I feel happiest when I’m connected.
- Action Steps: Consider ways to connect with new friends like meet-ups, a book club, etc.
- Fitness and Health: Find a primary care doctor and get in better shape by listening to my body because I want to be healthy and strong for myself and for my loved ones into old age.
- Action Steps: Drink 90 ounces of water daily, eat only 2 meals out per week, go to the gym 5-6x a week, stretch for 10 minutes daily
- Hobbies/Recreation: Get involved in music (guitar, voice) in some way and find a team sport to play because I feel most myself when I’m engaging in these activities.
- Action Steps: Dust off and tune my guitar, find a new guitar teacher using my credits from last year, sign up for Tri-Sports newsletters
- Monetary: Follow and revisit/adjust our monthly budget so that we can be good stewards of our money, save for travel and our businesses, and give generously.
- Action Steps: Set up the ‘You Need a Budget’ app, hang onto receipts through January, plan our 2019 travel budget needs, review 2018 giving and consider 2019 giving
- Career: Continually develop the blog and discover new ways to provide value to readers because I feel that encouraging women to see beauty and opportunities to create in every area of life is one of my passions.
- Action Steps: Publish new content 3x weekly, be present on social outlets daily, attend 1 conference, find a workspace outside of the home, apply to new affiliate programs in March, begin to pitch brands in March