Round about the first of the year many of us think about resolutions. I’ve been thinking that a better focus is on goals. When we resolve to act a certain way, or refrain from a particular action, these self promises often fall short of completion. Part of the reason is that we don’t set the resolutions firmly in the context of the future life that we want. We can make important and difficult changes in our lives when we can recognize the benefit to our future self.
So I invite you to do a little time traveling. Find a quiet, private space. Have a pen and paper handy. Take a few deep breaths and let your mind wander down the road, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, however far you want to go. Don’t think too much. Imagine that it’s all gone as well as it could, that you have fulfilled your potential to that moment, that you are proud of the life you have lead. You are meeting your best possible future self. Take a good look. Feel free to ask your future self some questions. When you are ready, thank your future self for talking, and slowly come back to the present moment.
Now get your paper and describe your best possible future self. Maybe draw a picture. What are you like? Who’s in your life? How are your significant relationships? How do you
dedicate your time? What’s important to you? What are some accomplishments or contributions for which you feel proud? How’s your health? How do you find meaning and purpose? What are your challenges? How do you plan to meet them? What have you learned? How do you bring joy into your life?
If you’re up for it, take a new piece of paper and write a letter from that future self to your present self. What perspective does your future self give? What lessons has that future self learned? What is important to your future self that needs to be shared? Any advice? Any blessings?
Hopefully the previous exercises have helped clarify what’s important to you. Now, with that future best self in mind, you can set some goals. Look at your life now, look at where or who you want to be, and look at the gap. Break that gap into steps and associated goals. Remember the SMART goals acronym. To be more effective, goals should be: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. It’s gotta mean something to you and you need to be able to recognize when you’ve accomplished your goal. Hold yourself to steps and a timeline. And write them down. Studies have shown that people who have clear, specific, written goals, are much more likely to achieve them. Imagine your future self cheering you on. May it be a blessed new year, full of joy, health, learning, family, love, growth, and success in moving toward your goals!