(I sent this article out to my newsletter list earlier this week. Thought some of my blog readers might appreciate it, too.)
It's that liminal time of year again . . . the “time out of time,” as my friend Waverly Fitzgerald of Living in Season calls it. These are the magical days between Solstice and New Year's, which I extend to my birthday on January 7th. Waverly writes:
For many years I've been celebrating the famous Twelve Days of Christmas, a magical time between the end of the old year and the start of the new one.
The idea of twelve significant days is an ancient one. In Babylon, the twelve intercalary days between the Winter Solstice and the New Year were seen as the time of a struggle between chaos and order, with chaos trying to take back over the world. The notion that these are days outside of ordinary time shows up in many cultures. . .
It seems clear that this is a magical period, a time out of time, whatever dates you choose. It is a special time, existing outside of the usual rules, when work is forbidden and all routines should be turned upside down.
I like to use this time period for reflection and review of the year past and incubating visions for the year ahead.
Following Waverly's lead, I always do a Life Review at this time of year and set intentions and goals for the year to come. As I looked over last year's goals, I noticed that I had done a grand job of meeting or surpassing many of them, but I made little or no progress at all on others. It's possible that I just set way too many goals for myself last year. But maybe I just need a better system. So this past week I set out to see who else was talking about goal-setting in the blogosphere and what new ideas I might incorporate into my Visioning for 2010.
My marketing coach, Elizabeth Genco Purvis, reminds us to celebrate our successes, even the little ones, since “success leads to more success.” Elizabeth is also the first one who explained to me how important it is that all of our goals and intentions be followed by taking action. (Or, at least it's the first time I really got it.) We set a goal or make an intention, and then brainstorm ways to make it happen. Then we take action. And take action again!
Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity suggests that we 1) review the previous year; 2) outline goals and set an overall focus for next year, setting specific, measurable goals in several categories; and 3) make decisions in support of the goals and focus. He has an Excel spreadsheet you can download for keeping track of your progress.
In a Facebook “conversation” last week, Katrina Wynne suggested the use of mind-mapping to set goals. I've used mind-mapping to brainstorm creative projects, but have never tried it for goal-setting, so I'm going to give it a try. (I really like the Mindmeister software for mind-mapping. Not an affiliate link.)
Christine Kane advises choosing a word for the year. Her blog is full of the success stories of folks who did just that. Alicia Forest recommends choosing a theme for the year (like Christine Kane's word), then choosing four goals within the theme, working on one per quarter. She advises getting support from a coach, buddy or mastermind group.
Chris Brogan is a fan of the SMART technique — making goals that are Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. He advocates making a Goalbox on Google Docs so you can access it from anywhere, and always keep your goals “front and center.” I'm going to be putting my business goals on an erasable wall calendar, as Elizabeth the Marketing Goddess recommends, but I may try Google Docs too. We'll see.
Almost all of the above suggestions have these features in common:
- Set your goals and intentions (often in different categories).
- Create actionable steps.
- Put your action steps on a calendar or timeline.
In other words, create your system, then work your system. And go back periodically to track your progress.
One of the things I appreciate so much about this way of goal-setting is that it addresses both the inner and the outer; both the spiritual/magical and the practical. It's not enough to set an intention and visualize the desired outcome without following it up with “shoeleather” activity. And it's not enough to put goals into action without a vision behind them.
I've created the categories for my list and a rough draft of goals for 2010. This is a work in progress, but it might give you some ideas of your own.
• Start Secret Spot practice again; go to Chris Chisholm's Wolf Journey class once a month
• Start Nature Journaling again as a mindfulness/gratitude practice
• Go to Maine 3 times instead of 2, to see granddaughter Gracie. April, Summer, October
• Help plan & produce NW Lammas Festival
• Start daily art journaling again (see Spiritual Practice)
• Take a class in Encaustic and explore that medium
Career: Tarot / Art / Writing / Teaching
• Create content for Gaian Tarot Certification Course & Membership Site
• Launch both of the above
• Write and release “How to Throw a Fabulous Lucia Party” e-book
• More in process
Career: Web Design
• Launch new GaianDesign.com site in the spring
• Set goals for numbers of clients and income per month
• Set up my business as an LLC
• Decide on a specific money amount to bring in each month
• Decide on a specific savings/investment plan
• Healthy eating plan
• Regular exercise plan
This year, my goals are very Capricornian; rather heavy on career, finances and health issues. In other years, I have had Travel goals, Relationship goals and House & Garden goals, but I don't have those this year.
Next up: Creating actionable steps and putting them on a calendar!
And on the night of the Blue Moon, December 31st, I think I'll create sacred space and put my written goals in a magic jar on my altar, charged with the Full Moon energy that ushers in the New Year.