If you're like most people this time of year, you're thinking okay, what do I want to accomplish next year... New Year's resolutions seem to be top of mind as we enter 2023. As we explore the upcoming year, let's dare to dream. This week we are going to craft our dreams into goals, set action steps, and take care of ourselves during the process. This is goals reimagined the 2.0 version!
I had always been intimidated setting goals. …Until I learned how to break down the process. I knew I had some place to be, big ideas that I wanted to make into a reality. And I continue to come up with dreams that I want to live in someday. As I write this, I'm following the steps for myself to prepare for 2023. Please follow along as we get to the nitty gritty of setting our goals, holistically and create space to visit our progress.
In September of 2022, my husband and I each took part in an exercise to map out our individual goals. This is how it went...
We both took 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to write down our 10 year goals in eight different categories. Each category could have as many goals as we wished. When the time was up, we compared our lists. We quickly found out that we had very similar goals on our lists, which was comforting to see we were aligned. But we found areas we differed greatly and that broke out a bigger conversation. The purpose is was not to see how similar we are but to simply do the exercise of mapping our individual and collected goals. If you have never done this exercise with a spouse or significant other, I suggest you do. It was an eye opening experience as we started to digest what each other put down. And we're still married!
Mind Mapping Exercise
I'm going to prepare for 2023 by using a version of the exercise above and share my process with you as I do it. What you will need for the exercise is, a pen/pencil (different colors are preferred but not necessary), 8x11 blank copy paper, and a ruler. **Important** Date your sheet.
Fold your blank paper in half the short way (landscape) twice. This will give you four separate columns. We are going to use the front and back of the paper for a total of eight columns. Now take your ruler and draw bold lines to separate each column, again front and back.
At the top of each column, write each of the following categories: business/career, family/friends, relationship, personal development, finance, recreation (fun), spiritual, and health/fitness. This now gives you categories for your goal mind mapping.
Find a quiet space free from distractions and set a timer for 30 minutes. Now take this time to write down whatever dream or idea comes to mind. No limit on time or resources. This is a full mind mapping exercise.
When the timer runs out take a few minutes to reflect on what you wrote. How do these things make you feel? What does your future look like when these dreams come true? This may be the first time you have ever written your dreams on paper. Appreciate this time you took for yourself and give yourself grace.
"When you set goals...when you have an intention about something that you want to change about your life, your brain helps you." -Mel Robbins
Turning Dreams into Goals
Goals are dreams in action. Goals are a desired outcome of an ambition. Goals have to be built and supported to work correctly. How are goals built? Goals must be S.M.A.R.T. - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. We are going to start with creating one goal as practice.
Pick one dream from your mind map that can be accomplished within one year.
Apply the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. Ask yourself, is this dream specific? Is this dream measurable? Is this dream achievable? Is this dream relevant? Is this dream time-bound? If yes to all, ask yourself, what about my dream is specific? How will I measure my dream? What will it look like when I achieve my dream? How does my dream fit with my future life? And when will I achieve my dream? Once you've answered these questions, your dream is now a goal. Your dream is actionable.
Do steps 1-2 for as many dreams as you have on your mind map. IMPORTANT - pace yourself, don't get overwhelmed in the process. Take your time and revisit at a pace that is comfortable for you.
Setting Action Steps
Action steps take your goal one step further to becoming a reality. This is the opportunity for you to break up your goal into smaller parts and work on it more frequently. You made decide you wan to reach your goal by the end of 2023 - great!
Now, how do you want to work toward that goals? On a weekly basis, monthly basis, semi-monthly basis?
Whichever frequency that works for you, make a plan to accomplish one action item toward your larger goal.
Make time to visit your progress. I like to add a designated time on my calendar at my selected frequency to work on my goal.
Celebrate Your Progress
As a society, we don't do this enough. Please take the time to celebrate checking off an action item when something you love. It could be a sweet treat, a massage, a night out with friends, a hike you've wanted to do, or joining a class. Whatever it is you choose to do to celebrate, make the time for it.
Where did I land with my dream?
A dream I continue to have is to have my own pottery studio. By the end of 2023 my goal is to convert our shed into a space that is fully outfitted with all of the tools, space, and ambiance to create stoneware.
This goal is specific (pottery studio in old shed), measurable (monthly progress toward building the structure), achievable (there is a budget, floor plan, and my husband and I are doing the work on weekends), relevant (I have the skills, knowledge and training as a potter), and it is time-bound (by December 1, 2023).
Action items include - cleaning out the shed, installing electric, insulate, windows, a door, building shelving, plumbing, ordering tools/furniture, installing all appliances, and opening the studio for use. Construction will start in May 2023 and be ready for use in December 2023.
In conclusion...and I invite you to do the same
My life depends on being organized and prepared for what is coming. So, as of January 1st, I vow to take an hour at the start of each month to evaluate my current goals, action steps, my progress toward my goals, give myself the opportunity to adjust my goals, if necessary. And space to celebrate my accomplishments. This practice will instill a habit and you will begin to see so much progress in 2023.
Crafting dreams into goals, requires bravery. It isn't for the faint of heart. The process is scary, it requires getting outside your comfort zone and applying new skills and habits you have not yet formed. Remember it is okay to be fierce, be kind, and be gracious all at the same time throughout this journey. Don't give up on your dreams, they are important.