As we move into the promise of a new year, I hope you will embrace all the wonderful possibilities that goal-setting presents to you, whether you choose to make an exhaustive inventory of your most heart-felt desires, or whether you choose to focus on one single goal for self-improvement for the new year.
I really feel setting aside this short amount of time for yourself, while it may feel slightly self-indulgent at first, will allow you to be even more generous and giving of yourself and your talents in 2010.
Space to Think, Space to Dream
As you assemble your thoughts and tools, the one thing you need, in addition to time, is space. Space, in two senses. You need space in your mind — uninterrupted, uncluttered time to focus on a plan for a new year. Time away from your children and your commitments, even if only for an hour or two. You need a mini-retreat, or maybe several, if you tackle this in stages.
Then, you also need a space to work on your resolutions, or at least the beginning stages of them. I find it helpful to work on a computer most days. But for goal-setting, working on a computer can be distracting (there is always Facebook to check, etc.)
When you really need to focus, it may help you be in a quiet, spacious, and clutter-free environment. Have you ever noticed how a change of environment can sometimes help you think of new solutions? For example, have you ever gone on vacation and stayed in a hotel room? And did the clutter-free hotel room help you think of new things you wanted to do with your life? That commonly happens to me. Some of my best ideas have come to me in hotel rooms. An empty room away from home — and away from dishes and laundry calling to be done! — can be like a blank canvas for your thoughts.
Finding Your Space
Can you think of a big, quiet space where you can work for an hour — or a few hours — with some table or desk space, a chair, plenty of wall space to tack your notes up, and room to walk around? If you can’t get this time and space at home, then consider these ideas for empty space to work in as you noodle out your goals…
- A borrowed conference room at work
- A community center room
- A study room at the library
- Even a hotel room!
If you can’t work in a quiet environment, and need a little hub-bub to work your best, why not take a brand new notebook to Starbuck’s or another coffee place? The notebook can be your canvas. You can dedicate a page to each part of your life you want to address (finances, health, fitness, personal development, career, family time, home improvement, etc.)
Bringing Your Tools to Your Thinking Space
Once you have located your space where you can be exclusively “you” for a little while, whether it’s inside or outside your home, bring with you to your “retreat”
- a 2010 calendar to plan and write in dates
- Some water; a snack or lunch for breaks
- An iPod and earbuds, if music helps you concentrate
- Gum or mints, or hand-fidgets, if they help you concentrate
- Big paper (see the big easel paper at Staples, especially the Post-It versions)
- Tape and scissors (you might cut up your goals and move them around)
- Highlighters and markers
- Pens and notebooks, a laptop
- Post-it notes in various colors
- A favorite magazine
- If you like, photos you have brought with you for inspiration
- Maybe a camera, if you want to document your efforts
- These notes (and previous blog posts this week)
- Copies of the action-plan1 and action-plan-example
- Something to carry it all in, like a big tote bag
Should you work alone, with a relative, or with a friend?
That really depends on you. Creating resolutions is an intensely personal exercise, at least in the beginning. I do recommend sharing your thoughts and work with a friend or relative you trust at a stage where you feel you have organized your thoughts and prioritized your goals . Let them help you refine and shape your plan, and make suggestions. And let them support and advise you through the year. But perhaps in the beginning, while you are in the dream stage, you might want to work alone, with calls or visits with friends to touch base and to get support. It’s up to you. Work how you work best!
Finishing the Plan
When you have finished your retreat, I do recommend writing or typing it (typing it is good, because you will probably revise it through the year, somewhat) on 5 x 7 sheets of paper and putting your plan in small 5 X7 pocket photo album. They cost about $2-$3, are lightweight, and are easy to carry with you. As you go through your objectives, you can make notes, or check-marks.
Good luck with your resolutions! Happy New Year, everybody!