RORY DARKINS - Jan 12
5 MIN READ
The start of a new year is a natural time to pause, reflect and reset – a time to take stock of where you are at and where you are heading. Chances are, the pandemic of 2020 and 2021 threw you some sort of curveball - be it a change in lifestyle, career or perspective (perhaps all the above).
With so many ways of goal-setting out there (and the fact that most ‘resolutions’ fail by the end of January), it can be hard to know how to go about setting yourself up for the year ahead - or whether it’s even worth it! I have seen many people become overwhelmed (even a little nauseated) by the whole process.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some simple, science-based ideas to help you set yourself up for purposeful progress this year.
1. RECONNECT WITH YOUR VALUES
The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on your core values. I recommend taking some time to look back over the past year and evaluate how your life reflected each of your values. Keeping your values in mind, ask yourself how satisfied you are with how you spent your time and energy last year? Are there ways in which you can live out your values even more this year? Values are like a compass that can guide you in a direction that is authentic and meaningful for you.
2. THINK ABOUT BEST CASE SCENARIOS
It’s easy with goal-setting to limit ourselves from the start. You may have heard of SMART goals, which are “specific”, “measurable”, “attainable”, “realistic” and “time-bound”.
SMART goals are not always the smartest way to go about planning the year ahead because we can get lost in the details of what is “realistic”. I prefer to start by asking, what if everything went right and it was the best year yet? What could be possible for you? What would make it great? Spend time here, connecting with this vision before you think about the details of how you may get there.
It pays to have a really compelling vision that inspires you as this will pull you forwards and help you to persevere through the inevitable challenges and obstacles along the way.
3. GET TO THE CENTRE OF THE ONION
Once you have a clear vision of best case scenarios, drill deeper by asking ‘why’. Why is each aspect of this important to you? Then ask it again, and again. Each answer of ‘why this is important to you’ is moves you closer to the centre of the onion, which is the core purpose underneath your vision.
This is where the magic is. If you can illuminate a clear ‘why’ that feels right and true for you, then you have a north star that not only gives you direction but deeper meaning and motivation, too.
4. DECIDE THE KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT TO BE
When you think about this best case scenario, value-based vision, ask yourself what kind of person you will need to be in order for it to happen? For example, if your vision involves being fitter and healthier than you have ever been, then maybe you need to see yourself as an athlete? If your vision involves starting a new business, then perhaps seeing yourself as a leader will help.
The point here is that living out your vision and moving towards your values requires making a habit out of doing the small things that propel you forwards. It is far easier to make the right micro-choices for you when your identity lines up with where you want to go.
To come back to the example of being fitter and healthier than you have ever been, seeing yourself as an athlete makes it much easier to choose the healthy lunch option everyday. When you connect your identity with a meaningful vision, the habits of action that enable this to become a reality will become more automatic.
5. SUMMARISE IT SIMPLY
Challenge yourself to boil it all down as much as possible. A format I like for this is to have a single, overarching aim that everything you do feeds into (this is usually the why you came up with in point #3).
Underneath this, put the key milestones or actions that will move you towards it.
Underneath this put the values and identity words that resonated most for you.
This will leave you with a simple but potent overview of what matters most to you this year and how you can make it a reality. Most importantly, check-in with yourself regularly to keep taking the daily actions that move you in this meaningful direction.
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