I like to take some time in the lull between Christmas and New Years to reflect on the previous year and to plan for the upcoming one.
To reflect on the previous year, I look at all of our pictures from the past year. We take our camera everywhere, so our pictures are a good record of what we did. We generally only take pictures of the fun and interesting things that happened, so viewing our year through our pictures gives me a nice rosy view of things. That's the way I like to remember it. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I can often get bogged down in what went wrong, so it's good for me to spend time remembering what went right. When viewed through our pictures, I often find that we did a lot more fun and interesting things than I remembered.
Not wanting to fall too deeply into self-delusion, I also like to remember what didn't go well this year. What goals did I fail to accomplish and why? It's important to keep this unemotional. The purpose of this is not to beat myself up, but to learn from my mistakes and to grow as a person, mom, wife, and friend.
I also like to reflect about balance. Was my life this year too heavily weighted toward one area? How was my work-life balance? Did I nurture my marriage? Did I take care of myself and my health? How are my kids fairing? Again, my goal is not to beat myself up, but to try to re balance things going forward. It's perfectly OK to have lopsided years, as long as you don't have a lopsided life. For instance, this year, was heavily oriented toward the maternal side. I gave birth to my second baby, so this was totally appropriate! My career took a back seat. That's OK. It's exactly what I had planned coming into this year.
To finish up my reflection, I take a look at my list of 100. You know, the list of 100 things you want to do in this life. (Some people call it the list of 100 things you want to do before you die, but I find that too macabre.) I started this list in my early 20's after reading the book, The Wish List. I also added a few things from 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
I have a few rules with respect to this list:
1) the list doesn't have to have 100 items. It can have any number you want. It's your list after all!
2) you are allowed to add new items at any time
3) you are allowed to remove items at any time if you truly don't have that goal anymore. You have to allow that you will change as a person and certain goals may not appeal to you anymore. But you are not allowed to remove it simply because you don't think the goal is attainable. Many of the things on your list should seem unattainable at the time you add them. Your challenge over your life is to stretch and grow and attain the unattainable.
4) Every year, you have to accomplish at least one goal. At this time every year, I select the ones that I want to accomplish in the upcoming year and I mark them with a *.
5) you don't delete items once you have finished them. Mark them as completed and note the year. Use them as inspiration going forward.
6) remember to take a long-term view. Everything you want to accomplish in your life doesn't have to be done this year. It doesn't even have to be started, worked on, or even planned right now. Some of your goals are appropriate for this time in your life; others can and should wait for later. For instance, I have some goals on this list pertaining to my grandchildren. Quite some time will pass before those are even possible! I also like to consider my 60 year-old self. What fun things should I leave on the list for her to do? She probably won't be hiking the Grand Canyon, but learning Thai cooking is definitely something she can do. What goals should I prioritize now so that the opportunity doesn't pass me by?
When I'm done with this reflection, I feel recharged, happy, and excited. I feel ready to charge into the new year bolstered by all of the good memories of the past year, with a better understanding of areas where I need to grow and learn, a renewed sense of balance, and a bunch of fun life goals to accomplish.
I expect 2009 to be a challenging year. But I am entering it with wide eyes, ready for the challenge, the opportunity to grow, to nurture the people in my life, and to live to my fullest potential.
How do you set goals for the New Year? How do you get yourself motivated to accomplish them? Please share in the comments!