This week, we’re fast forwarding to 2014. I don’t know about you, but by the time New Year’s Day rolls around, I’m usually down to thinking about my “standard” new year’s goals…which are standard because I’ve yet to achieve them. This year, I’m inviting you to join me in planning ahead instead. There’s still a little bit of time before holiday madness, and spending just a little bit of time now can plant seeds which will make goal setting easy.
This past weekend I was on a mini-retreat with six women who consistently inspire me to challenge my negative beliefs and find ways to greater meaning and joy in my own life. One of them was recently back from a visioning retreat, and she reminded me of the power of questions. In Kaizen-Muse coaching, we talk a lot about forming “small questions” – such as, “how can I make this more fun?” But the questions can be anything at all. This week, I’m inviting you to join me in using some in support of creating a 2014 that you love. Grab something to write with, and let’s go:
Step #1: Begin at the End
Fast forward to December 28th, 2014. Envision a day when you have an hour to yourself, and you are completing the “Harvest Time” ideas from my last post – you’re listing twenty-five things you’re proud of for the last year. These could be accomplishments, emotional growth, anything at all that you’re happy about for the last year. Pick out three to five things that really light you up, and write them down now.
If you struggle with envisioning yourself writing lists of past accomplishments before they’ve happened, feel free to do this the traditional way. Pick out three to five goals that you think will light you up if you achieve them.
Step #2: Check for Juiciness
When you think about the goal/accomplishment, do you feel excited? Alive? Scared? Hopeful? You’ve probably got a fun, juicy goal. Do you instead feel dread, boredom, obligation, defeat? Your goal might need to be tweaked a bit. No problem; we’ll get there in the next step.
Step #3: Get to the Essence
Often (always?) we want to achieve things because we think they will make us feel a certain way. When you think about achieving your goal, or you “look back” on achieving in from your December 2014 perspective, what about it made it so exciting? How did you feel? What did accomplishing this thing give you? Or if you are going from a goal perspective, why do you want to do this? What will it bring to you?
Let’s look at a common example for my career-passion-search clients: “I want to find my passion/purpose.” My next questions are always “Why?” and “How do you think you will feel when you have found it?” I hear answers like, “I want to know I’m making a difference in someone’s life.” “I want to feel like I’m in the flow.” “I want to make the world a better place.”
What are your answers? If you want to lose weight, for example, do you know why? Is it that you really want to feel energized every day, or the ability to run farther? Or maybe it’s something completely different – like when you lose weight, you’ll give yourself permission to wear clothes you love.
Step #4: Play with Questions
Your brain is wired to answer questions. It will answer whatever you ask, search for evidence to help you answer your questions, and generally stay focused on whatever it is that you are asking. This means that your questions are vitally important. If you ask crappy questions – like “Why do I always fail at dieting?” – your brain will give you answers that make you feel like crap! For example, “because you have no willpower”, “because you have deep-seated issues and eat to block them out” or “because you are afraid of being thin.” These may or may not be true.
The good news? It doesn’t really matter! You can just focus on asking better questions instead of analyzing these results. In this case, you could try something like, “what do I really want out of weight loss?” or “how can I use my strengths to help me to lose weight?” or “how can I make losing weight fun and easy?”
Some ideas for your questions:
- How can I get the essence of what I want into my life?
- Do I even need to achieve this goal or can I go straight for the feeling?
- How can I make the process fun?
- Who do I know who might have a great idea about making this happen?
- How can I start building habits that will help me with this next year?
- How can I make the process of achieving this goal as delicious as actually achieving it?
I consider this activity very much like choosing which seeds to plant next year. You don’t even have to do anything with your questions – just write them down somewhere and look at them throughout the holiday season. Your brain will be busy working to help you answer them. When we come back together in late December of this year, you might be surprised by how many ideas you already have for making 2014 amazing!
Leave a comment below and share one of your questions with us – brainstorming with others just makes this even more fun!