I absolutely love making goals and creating plans. It inspires me to dream and make positive changes to my life. I can take time to reflect on what in my life is or isn’t working, and look at ways to move in the direction I want for my life.
I find that making goals in life works best when it starts with listing out my own values. This gives me a framework for deciding where to invest my time, and when it might be best to change a course. Because my values are also about relationships, this helps me to include people in my goals, not just concrete goals around accomplishments. I include values of self improvement and character traits I aspire to. Though these may not be as measurable, my personal integrity is more important than the accomplishments I make.
I have a list of seventeen top values that I have revamped over the years. My overall mission statement is: I will strive for growth, healing and deeper spirituality, where I can truly love others, giving joy, grace, and peace to those I meet. Some of my values include building strong relationships with family, friends and neighbors. Others are about personal traits such as saying I am sorry, being forgiving, having fun and living a life of integrity. I also include fitness and health, making a difference, being financially secure and helping people in need.
Next I start with a free write of goals and hopes of what I would like to accomplish. This might be short term or long term ideas, as well as self improvement type of goals. I try to avoid thinking too rationally when writing out my dreams, as this is something I will do later. For some this might be better done by writing in paragraph form visualizing the life they wish to have, others prefer lists. It can sometimes help to look around at people you admire, and what are the traits and actions that draw you to them.
Once I have a list of goals and dreams, I begin to group them into categories and time lines for further evaluation. I will group together health goals, relationship goals, spiritual, personal trait goals, finances, etc. With each group I will think about what I can do in the next year to make progress in this area. For relationship goals it might be scheduling dates with my husband, planning some vacations and/or having a game night. For health goals it could be losing weight, going to a new doctor, trying a new exercise and/or meditating self compassion.
One thing to remember with goals is that it is about progress not perfection. In 2012, I had a list of about 40 goals and I accomplished about 60% of them. Some of these goals were minor, such as putting pictures in frames and going through donations. Other goals were more significant like starting my blog and going back to yoga class. I never did finish doing touch up painting around the house, but I am ok with putting this off another year. I wish I had found the time to create goals with my children, as this is a worthwhile project. Even though I didn’t finish everything on my list, I can see that the year 2012 was filled with some new adventures and progress in areas that matter to me. The other goals I didn’t finish I can evaluate whether this is something I want to reconsider in the next year. Fortunately, 2013 brings new opportunities.
I am excited for what 2013 can bring and my personal goal of implementing the 15M plan. For 2013 I am going to focus more on making life style changes in increments. The 15M plan allows me to make progress even in the more difficult health days, as I focus on spending 15 minutes on the desired activity each day. Often when I am tired or feeling a great deal of pain, I lay on the couch a good part of the day and isolate. If I can focus first on 15 minutes of some type of exercise, it is a goal I should be able to attain most days, resulting in less discouragement and better health. When I am feeling good, I will most likely do more, but on a bad day this can help me shift gears. I will add other areas that I want to progress in such as writing, family time, cooking and doing chores.
Life many of us I have goals for improving my health in 2013. I plan to do some experiments with the types of food I eat to see if they may be adding to my symptoms. I also will be doing health coaching for other people who want to improve their health. I hope to be able to make an impact on people struggling with chronic health problems and to give hope. I want to strive for more consistency in my life, and learn to work around the tough days.
Making goals can be a simple process or something you spend weeks processing and planning. The most important thing is to make some progress. Taking 15 minutes to write down 10 goals is a great beginning. For the artist among us, one can draw or clip out pictures from a magazine instead. You can post the list on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Others may prefer to spend some time evaluating last year, writing out values, and creating a detailed plan for 2013 like I have done. Finding a buddy to share it with might help keep you motivated and encourage a friend at the same time.
May 2013 bring you some great learning experiences and opportunities. May you see an impact towards the values you hold dear and be an encouragement to those in your path.
(also posted at fibromodem.wordpress.com/2012/12/ and in December issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA)