Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Exercise: Looking Back, Looking Forward

I do an exercise every year (at New Year's and/or at birthdays) with clients that has two components: looking back at your successes and the things you've learned over the year, and looking forward toward what you’d like to create and undertake in the coming year. I do this in lieu of New Year's resolutions, as I believe resolutions have a very strong stigma that leaves people feeling as if they have failed in some way if they don't achieve them.

Here's what you do:

Create two separate lists: 1) Looking Back and 2) Looking Forward. Relax and reflect, without judgment, and record your thoughts. This can be a work in progress and can be revised at different points throughout the year – it should be a live document that evolves as you do.

Some tips:

  • Be realistic by setting achievable goals. Winning the lottery, for example, is out of your grasp.
  • Describe your goals in specific terms. Instead of "I don't want to be lazy," opt for "I want to exercise regularly" or "I will cut down on my television watching."
  • Break down large goals into smaller ones. For instance, commit to losing weight by resolving to join a gym and improve your eating habits.
  • Find alternatives to a behavior that you want to change, and make this part of your plan. For example, if you want to quit smoking, but have smoked to relax yourself, consider: What other forms of relaxation are available to you?
  • Above all, aim for things that are truly important to you, not what you think you ought to do or what others expect of you.

Lastly, here are some topics that you may want to include (for both lists) so that you can broaden your scope beyond losing weight and making more money:

  • Career: your real expression, not necessarily your “job”
  • Money: includes both your finances and your “job,” if it’s not your “career”
  • Health: mental, physical
  • Relationship: friends, family
  • Love: romance, partnership, dating
  • Personal growth
  • Spirit: relationship to self, universe, higher power
  • Community: contribution, involvement
  • Physical environment: home/work space, clutter, living location
  • Fun and recreation
  • Time/energy management: how you spend/utilize your time, what you say yes/no to
  • Communication: style, frequency, with/to whom
  • Miracles: if something amazing and unexpected were to happen this year…

Continue on to Part II of this exercise HERE.

1 comment:

Abi said...

i love this exercise! Thx for posting.