“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” – Edith Lovejoy Pierce
The end of the year is often a time for reflection but a new year is like the first page of a new book.
You are the author. You hold the pen in your hand and you can now begin to write your story. Yet often, the very first task of an author is to begin with the end in mind.
So what if you took your brand new diary and filled in 31st December right now?
What do you want your life look like at the end of the coming year…..and what will you have to do to get there?
It’s a powerful goal setting exercise and harnesses the unique ability of your reticular activating brain filter (1) to really focus and create a positive mind set for the next twelve months.
Only do this exercise if you’re serious about making changes! My client Greg was ready to do something different.
When Greg came to see me, he complained of boredom and a feeling of being ‘stuck.’
‘I’ve been feeling down and depressed lately’ he said ‘and Christmas was the worst time. As New Year approached I simply couldn’t look forward to it. It’s like I’m missing something. There’s a big hole where my life should be. What’s wrong with me?
It seemed Greg was receiving some uncomfortable messages from his subconscious mind. His internal satellite navigation system was pushing him towards getting his emotional needs met. That feeling of a ‘big hole’ indicated genuine gaps and imbalances in his current lifestyle.
New year. New life. New you!
The start of the new year presented a perfect time for Greg to reassess his life; notice the parts which were not working, acknowledge those areas which were working very well and to start to do some important work in reclaiming a sense of control.
The holistic coaching wheel (2), with its spokes relating to eight important areas of life, is an excellent tool for focusing at the start of a new year.
Working with a coach is an ideal way to form a firm picture of what your ideal year would look like, but it is also something you can do alone with the right prompts and questions.
Bearing in mind many of us spend a considerable amount of time working, it’s a good idea to focus on your job and career and wonder ‘Is this what I really want to do?’
If you could have any job or any career, what would that be? Are there dreams and aspirations from your past which you had boxed up and put away on the shelf?
If you could have the perfect year at work, what would that look like? Break it down. Make a list of goals. Do you want to stay in your current job and make changes or get promoted?
Do you want another role in your current organisation or you need to look for other employment? If you’re self employed, what changes need making? Is your work life balance what you want it to be?
Do you need to work smarter rather than harder this year? Are you managing your schedule so that you are making best and most efficient use of your time?
Having an idea of your perfect work life will give you an idea of how near or far you are from that now.
Do you need to win the lottery to be happy?
Many people say they just need enough to give them choices about the kind of life they live. If you had enough money, what would be the kind of life you would choose to live? Have a clear picture in your mind. What would you be doing that you don’t do now? Where would you be? Who would you be with?
What would your work life balance be? Would you give up work or make other changes?
Twelve months from now what would a perfectly healthy you look like? Do you need to lose weight, stop smoking or cut down on the alcohol?
When you consider a 100% healthy you, think about the lifestyle that would support that? And what do you need to do to get you there?
Write down as much detail as you need to construct a clear picture.
It may be that having a partner is not part of your plan right now and that’s ok too as long as you’re clear about why that is.
If you don’t have a partner and would like to have one, consider the kind of person who would make your ideal partner and construct a picture of their personality. Do they need to be gregarious and outgoing or would you prefer someone quiet to spend time at home with?
What qualities would you value in your ideal partner?
If you do have a partner, consider now how you would like that partnership to look by the end of next year. Do you need to make changes? Is communication an issue? Are there problems which need addressing?
Family and friends
As the old saying goes, ‘you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends.’
The friends and family situation can be a complicated picture for many people. Do you want less or more contact? Don’t confuse quantity with quality.
Again, communication is key. Are there issues that need resolving? When you consider the perfect picture, what does that look like?
Try drawing a spiral on a piece of paper. At the centre, write down the names of those you are closest to and, as the spiral winds out, other names of those you are less connected to. Do you see enough of the people that really matter to you? Do you see too much of the others?
What would make you happy if failure was not possible and you could have anything you wanted?
The human brain loves to learn. Being bored can create depression and lethargy.
What are you doing to stretch and grow?
Consider this time next year. What new skills would you like to have or be learning about? How would that affect your life? Would it lead to new employment or a new hobby? Would you travel more or meet new people?
Are you happy where you live? Do you feel safe and secure there? Are there decorative changes you would like to make inside or outside the home?
Or would you rather be living somewhere else? What would your ideal home look like? Where would it be? How would it feel to be in your perfect home and how would that affect the rest of you life?
Envision your life one year from now
Writing down the answers to clarify and embed the picture ensures your brain filters attach significance to it. Once you have a clearer idea of the life you want to live, you can construct a vision board and put it somewhere prominent where you can see it every day. Photograph the board and stick the picture in the last page of your diary.
Every day, close your eyes for a few moments and place yourself in that picture. Imagine you are now living your preferred life.
Just like the author, you now have a clearer picture of the ending.
That will make writing the story so much easier!
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” – T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets