Even though things were not great over the last few years, it’s time to take stock of where you are now and what you can realistically do to move ahead. While planning for the year ahead might initially make you cringe, there are ways to think about the current year. I offer ideas to get you thinking about what you want out of life this year. To make this a reality, I offer worksheets to take my clients through this work step-by-step. You can start this process by using a journal for your thoughts and a loose-leaf notebook or digital file to keep your work organized to access it throughout the year.
Overcoming Obstacles To Get Started
So how does one actually start this process? If you are not feeling particularly motivated, work on building your support system. Building solid connections with others is important to your well-being. You can work with a Coach, a trusted friend, or a Mentor to get started. When you have a support team, you will have others to turn to to share your thoughts and to help keep you on track. Your support network can consist of friends, family, mentors, coaches, peer support groups, or others. These connections can help you stay motivated and positive, particularly during times of challenge, stress, and overwhelm.
If you are feeling isolated, anxious, or inundated, there are ways of reducing overwhelm by taking charge of what you can realistically control. You may be able to use resources to solve problems you have been obsessing over. There may be situations you can’t control, but you still may be able to influence them through the knowledge you have. While you might not have total control over situations, knowing who to turn to for advice is helpful. When you feel emotionally ready to start, the key to success is agreeing to take the first step toward your future and staying with it. Many of us need accountability partners to stay on course. If that’s true for you, choose someone you trust and let the process begin.
The following steps are ideas to get you thinking about what makes you happy, what has brought you pride in the past, what’s most important to you in your life right now, and what are some of your basic needs. Take time to reflect on these questions in a quiet space free from distractions and when you are ready, start documenting your responses.
- Happiness. Think about the happiest times of your life from the past to re-discover what made you feel a sense of joy and fulfillment. Create a list of 25 situations or events that made you feel happy in the past. They could be big events such as graduation or the birth of a child, small events such as a delicious meal someone special has prepared for you, or a call from someone special you have been waiting to hear from for a while. Then think about what situations have brought you pride in what you have achieved. List 10 ideas that can be small or large.
Explore your core values. These are the things that are most important to you in your life. (Get the Values worksheet here)
- Understand your basic needs. Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a good model to follow. This model addresses needs in order. It starts with basic physiological needs (food, water, good health) and moves to security (having a safe home and steady job). Level 3 is the need for a feeling of belonging (friendship, community). Level 2 is the need for self-esteem or feeling good about yourself. The first level is the need for self-actualization or to be your best self. Can you identify what your basic needs are?
When you have completed this section, review and reflect on all of your responses before considering the next steps.
Dreams and Aspirations
What are some things you would like to do this year? What are places you would like to visit? What are things you have been thinking about doing but have put off for one reason or another? Are there relationships with family or friends that you want to improve? How about financial dreams you want to enjoy? Create a list of 50 dreams you have. Take a look at this list for some ideas:
- A new job or career change
- Connect with friends and family
- Establish new habits
- Personal or Professional Development
- Fun activities you want to enjoy
- Community service
- Home projects
The idea is to get all of your ideas on paper and then choose a prioritized list of 10 dreams you would like to pursue.
Once you have identified the dreams you want to achieve, the next step is turning them into reality. To do this, you can use SMART goals. I suggest you start with 3 – 5 of your most important goals for the year. The mnemonic SMART stands for:
- Specific and clear
- Time Bound
Your accountability partner can assist you with creating goals, breaking those goals up into tasks, actions, and start dates, and help you track your progress monthly and quarterly.
Victoria Roche, MSW, PCC