Today is New Year’s Eve. It’s a day when we have one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Although I advocate living in the moment as much as possible, we can gain some insights and direction by spending some time looking at our feet.
Let’s start with the past. There are several questions that we can ask ourselves.
1. What did you enjoy doing this year? If we know the specific activities that we liked doing, we can intentionally plan experiences in 2020 that bring us joy.
For example, I enjoyed the various craft activities that I did. I made a glass egg, threw a pot, and made one of those super chunky blankets. They were all classes that I did with a friend. I will schedule a few of those types of classes in 2020.
I very much enjoy spending time with my children and their families. I adore each and every one of them. I want to be sure and schedule trips to see them all in 2020.
Lastly, I am one of the most fortunate people on the planet because I love what I do! I love standing up in front of groups and talking about leadership concepts with them. I always enjoy honing my skills and will schedule some professional development classes during the year. Maybe I will join Toastmasters!
2. What is your biggest regret in 2019? I’m not into wallowing or wishing things had turned out differently. However, knowing what we did or didn’t do that caused us to feel bad can help us avoid repeating that particular regret. It’s important to focus only on actions that we have control over. I might regret not getting a gig, but I didn’t have control over that. Now, if I regret not preparing for my interview for the job properly, that’s something that I can analyze and figure out how to do better next time.
3. What did you really hate about your days in 2019? This one is tricky. Sometimes we have to do things that we don’t really enjoy. For me, that’s fixing food. I don’t like cooking, and I haven’t figured out a way to get rid of that task because I also like eating fresh, clean food. For now, I power through fixing healthy, healing meals.
I also dislike cleaning the bathroom, and I’ve already handed that task off. I redid my budget so that I could afford a cleaning team every other week.
It’s trickier if you hate things about your work, but useful to chronicle them. If I know what I dislike about my workday, I can try to do less of that – but now always. However, if I look for a new job in the new year, I know what things I do not want in my daily work life.
4. What are you grateful for? What people and events did you encounter for which you feel profound gratitude? Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is the foundation of a positive attitude. It’s important that we acknowledge all of the gifts that we’ve been given.
I have much to be grateful for! My youngest son got married in 2019 to a wonderful young woman who is now pregnant with my third grandchild. I have a contract with an organization whose people I love. I seriously enjoy working with them and am so grateful for that opportunity. I love my family. I enjoy talking with them and being with them. I am grateful for my condo that I call Xanadu. It’s a home to call my own that is cozy and filled with things I like. I am grateful for my freedom. I sleep and eat when I want. No one questions my actions or purchases or sleep patterns. I am grateful for my community of friends. I have people who care about me, and I them. I love my car! Her name is Amber, and we travel all the time together.
My list continues, and my heart warms just thinking about it. Gratitude is a powerful tool – and it feels good!
We’ve just taken the first step in Boyatzis’ Intentional Change Theory – take stock of where you are. The second step is to visualize where and who you want to be, doing what. All of the answers are in the answers to the questions that we asked ourselves.
Sometimes it helps to think about the segments of our lives, such as work, home, friends, and hobbies. We can visualize each segment in great detail and decide what would be ideal for each.
For example, for work I see myself up in front of a room of dedicated individuals who want to become the best versions of themselves. That one is really close to my current reality, so there isn’t much to change there. I did say that I wanted to do some professional development, so I need to keep that in mind.
For community, I see myself taking craft classes, going to movies, eating out, and playing games with my friends. The only thing that doesn’t happen now is playing games. Perhaps there is a game night in my future?
Now, we decide what we want to include and what we want to get rid of. We know where we are (the answers to the questions) and what we want (the visualizations). What’s left is to decide what we need to do to get from one to the other.
Take some time with this list. It’s your strategy for 2020. Start with a long list of things that you want to add. Make another list of the things you want to toss. What things do you want to change or do differently? Make sure that everything that you list is in alignment with your visualizations.
Now prioritize your list. What are the most important things for you to do or not do? The important things can usually be separated into short- and long-term goals.
A few of the things on my shortlist include finishing the book that I’ve started, creating structured time to spend with family, incorporating some type of daily exercise, and starting a game night. I use my 2020 calendar for planning.
For example, I have lots of commitments for the first part of the year. I won’t be starting my book until July, so I put it in my list of goals for July in my calendar.
I don’t like to do the same type of exercise every day, and my stamina is a bit unpredictable. The best I can do is schedule a time each day and commit to doing something physical during that time.
I will need to decide how often I want to have game night and coordinate with my friends. I also want to plan a big family vacation in 2021. I will work out a savings plan and coordinate the time in 2020.
You get the idea. Some actions are daily, and some are long-term. To move our lives forward, we need both. We create the life that we want in bits by deciding what’s important to us and taking intentional actions.
One last note: Stuff happens. Things we don’t plan for get in the way. Sometimes we have to let go of one plan and create a new one. That sounds easier than it is, but it is necessary. Continuing to hold onto a vision that cannot happen is not productive. Let it go, and move on.
The last step of Intentional Change Theory is to get support. We are more likely to achieve our goals if we tell others about them. We increase our chances again when we enlist their aid.
Remember the power in the Magic Wand of Destiny. With determination and a clear direction, we can get just about anywhere and achieve lots of cool stuff. Good stuff.
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