Hello 2019. Let’s be friends, ok? Your buddy 2018 had lots of interesting challenges and successes to share, but if we are being honest, it was a really tricky year.
Let’s be a smart bird…like a crow, or a raven.
Alright you wise crows. Whether actively or passively, we all have goals that we are working on. Perhaps a passive goal is to be as cranky as possible, so you stay up late and really work on sleep deprivation. To really hammer it home, you also keep yourself distracted from the things you know are important, so you can really eek up that self-hatred meter (really makes the cranky go off the charts). I mean, you aren’t likely (I hope) intentionally choosing something like this. But shit, maybe you are.
The question is always why.
Why are you choosing what you are choosing? Hard truth time: It’s always a choice.
Though the timing may be deceptive, this is not about resolutions. This is about intention setting. Goal setting. Plan setting. Asking important questions.
This is about taking the next 90 days, and deciding right here and now what actions you are going to take – those ones you know you need to take to make a better life for yourself.
Not the Instagram-feed filtered life better. Not keeping up with anyone else. Not because so-and-so does A, B, or C. Just better for you. Because you deserve it. The sort of better life that knows that you don’t need to change anything, but is doing it because you want to, without comparison to anyone else. This is not about them. This is about you.
Sound good? Settle in for story-time.
The last couple of years have been really hard. Filled to the brim with challenges on levels that I could not have conceived of before I was in them, they have been really fucking hard. I watched my baby brother spiral out- directly to the bottom, and watched as he was taken to prison. I’ve gained and lost friends. My chronic pain issues went through-the-roof, leaving me no choice but to pour all of my energy into being the most stubborn goat I could manage to be, and trod on – my mental health taking a toll. I repeatedly sought help and was turned down. I was in full on survival mode (for more on this, check out this post)
Nothing in life is black and white though, for as challenging as these last few years have been, they’ve also brought some of the most amazing moments of my life. My heart was filled as I participated in a Girls Rock Camp session. I got to speak about my day-job on stage. I recorded with my band for the first time. Eventually, my advocacy for my health paid off in having the surgery and referrals that I needed. I lost 30 lbs (and then gained it back). My partner and I started going on camping trips. I proved to myself that I can.
Life is a rollercoaster. Resist or submit.
About twice a year through the challenges, I’ve run an exercise, and then executed on it until I fell back down into survivor mode – and each time it has brought SO MUCH good into my life. If I hadn’t been doing the work, I’m not sure I would have made it through this period. In many ways, I’m convinced it saved my life. It works. Because you build it for you. It’s not someone else’s plan. It’s not the suggestions of some would-be guru. It’s the advice you know you need to give yourself. What I’m sharing is the process of getting it for yourself.
If you want to explore some internal dialogue - try this exercise
Don’t be a dodo. Be a crow. Surveil the land before you, and get ready to spread your wings.
First thing’s first.
What do you really want?
We could call this goal-setting, or intention-setting (slightly better) or any other litany of fancy names. I like Sagi Scheiber’s version of Vision Setting, or the NLP-esque – Well-Formed outcome. No matter what the fancy label is you slap upon it – it’s a goddam series of questions. It’s setting aside some time and attention, to examine your intention.
“A man who has control over his mind is able to realize its full potential”– The Sama Veda.
Let’s borrow from the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) side of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to get started. You can check out the book that I’m getting this from, NLP: The Essential Guide here. (Highly recommend going through it.)
“The Outcome Frame is a set of questions that orient your thinking to maximize the possibility of getting what you want and being glad you got it. It’s actually an orientation, a way of perceiving the experience as a set of choices, it organizes experience around what is wanted, and how it is possible to achieve it. … As long as you have a specified outcome that you are holding constant, and know that it is possible to attain, a setback is simply something that happens along the way towards your outcome”– Leslie Cameron.
So let’s start big, and then work our way down to the details. As we go, we’ll be creating the outcome frame we just discussed. I’ll share my answers as we go here as both an exercise in vulnerability and transparency.
Where do you want to be in 2 years? What do you want your life to look like? What changes have you made? What are you doing? Is there anything you want to accomplish?
Write down every detail you can about where you want to be in two years. Set those goals. Form those outcomes.
2 years is vision territory. It’s both hella long – and
- In two years, I want to pay off my $30,000 in debt and have $5,000 saved. ( I want a positive net worth, darnit)
- In two years, I want to be consistently living my healthiest and most pain-free life possible. This means I will have lost 50 lbs (and kept it off) and have a regular yoga and walking routine. This means that I hold my health as a non-negotiable priority (this is what I know works best for me)
- In two years, I want to have recorded a full album. (creative expression is very important to me)
- In two years, I want to have contributed successfully and confidently in my work environment. I want a successful career.
- In two years, I want to have continued writing and sharing the things I know with those who will find it valuable (see, writing this is actually attached to a goal)
- In one year, I want to have established a secondary source of income.
- Within two years, I want to have taken the trip to Inn at Bay Fortune (it’s not far, dammit)
So the first one I wrote down is actually the hardest to actually accomplish for me. It’s an aggressive goal. After having reviewed this list I created while I was recovering from surgery, it seems more clear that to pay off the debt – oddly enough I actually have to accomplish all of the other things on my list. Having the dedication and presence with the other
All of these changes are about creating a happy, healthy and fulfilled life for me. Communication, understanding, health, and creativity – these are the things that are most important to me. My debt is a burden to those. A little thing that looms over me. I want the clarity of conscience that comes with knowing that I have more financial freedom. That’s all. Don’t need to make millions to be happy. Just need to be able to make less money, actually!! And yes, I threw a one-year goal in there, because I choose to believe that I can, and the shorter timeline will help keep me focused on the big picture goals around the debt.
If you want to help reinforce your ability to accomplish these goals, try throwing in so affirmations. Life tends to go in the direction of our thoughts, start taking charge – check this out.
What changes do I need to make to get there?
Well, they are partially listed. The rest are questions we are about to answer.
With the 2-year vision in mind, we’ll switch back to the well-formed outcome. Eventually, we’ll answer each of these questions for each of the statements we made in the previous section. So for each thing that came up, consider the answers. Perhaps there is a theme that will allow you to see your motivations more clearly.
Set intentional goals, with well-formed outcomes by answering the questions below.
- What specifically do you want?
- How will you know when you’ve achieved what you want?
- Under what circumstances, where, when and with whom, do you want to achieve this result?
- What stops you from having your desired outcome already?
- What resources will you need to help you create what you want?
- **How are you going to get there – and what is the first step to begin to achieve this result?
** We’ll wait on this one and use the Vision Setting method. For brevity, I’ll do this in a blended form.
What specifically do I want? I want more financial freedom. I’ll know when I’ve achieved this because my debts are paid off, I have a second source of income. I want to be living the healthiest life I can. As a person with chronic pain and health problems, I have to work a little harder than the average crow to get there. I’ll know I’ve acheived this when I have a regular routine in place. I’ll know it because I feel it. The only thing that stops me from doing this right now is my mindset. I already have all the resources I need.
Now, my complete version of this is 5 pages long. I’ll spare you the rest of the details.
Try setting aside a solid hour to ask yourself these questions. Big bonus points if you really drill in a few layers deeper. Sometimes we have to look beyond our initial answers.
After this, you should have a decent vision of what you are steering yourself towards.
Now, scope these goals into the next 6 months.
From the big-hairy-audacious things you know you want for yourself in two years – where could you be 6 months from now that would show you are well on your way? If you put just a little effort in every day for the next 6 months, where could you be?
Make sure it’s connected. Here’s mine:
- Have earned $1,000 from a secondary income stream.
- Have followed my budget every month for the last six months.
- Have lost 35lbs.
- Have consistently done my physio and/or yoga daily at least 80% of the time. (because life is a real thing).
- Ditto for meditation and journal.
- I have a productive and thriving creative habit again.
- I have published 24 posts right here on this blog 😉
Now write down your goals!
Then when you are done, write them again in present tense, with all of the detail you can conjure. Make it as real as possible.
Here’s an example.
“I’m proud that I have made $1,000 from a secondary source. I am excited to see how much further I can take this. I have made a plan for how I’ll expand my ability to generate income. I am excited to share with friends that I have made this a successful addition to my life.”
“I am overflowing with joy at the fact that I have significantly reduced my pain through a meaningful daily practice. I protect this time happily and the rewards are drastic. I am happier, I have more energy, my skin is clearer, and I am able to contribute to everything I choose more effectively and more happily.”
Write out your statements as vividly as you can.
Here’s the 90 Likely Days challenge.
For each of your items that you want to have accomplished in the next 6 months, dig in.
What concrete steps can you consistently take to work toward your goals. What can you do over the next 90 days to make meaningful progress? Are there pillar or cornerstone habits that you need to incorporate to contribute to success?
As you work on this, don’t forget to establish the importance of the actions. Remind yourself how they connect to the bigger picture.
Again, here’s mine.
Movement. Meditation. Journal. Nourishment. Create. Write.
For each of these I have a list of actions (read, options) that will count as progress towards my goals. For me, I have some foundational habits I need to re-install to make this all happen. Mental and physical health first, with some complimentary habits worked in.
So, for the next 90 days, and for each of my six keystones – I have options to choose from each day (kinda like MVP). No zero-days is the rule. I’m making a commitment, a promise, a vow to myself that I will have no zero days for the next 90 days.
It’s an experiment.
- 20 Mins of yoga.
- 30 Minute walk.
- Weightlifting circuit.
The goal with movement is pain reduction, and rebuilding lost strength since surgery. From previous experimentation, I know that yoga is the most effective way to do this. Bonus- the yoga routine also incorporates my physiotherapy exercises. The options incorporate ways to make it work with both time and energy levels.
- 15 mins Meditation
- 30 mins yoga
- 45 mins reading philosophy
Meditation helps greatly with pain and is an incredibly valuable mental health resource. Some days though, the sit is just more than I can deal with. The yoga option is a routine that works in some moving meditation. And if all else fails, engaging the mind with a longer reading session.
Non-negotiable – thoughtful todo’s completed, follow the method. This is a habit I already maintain but is listed to help underscore the need for the intentionality over the next 90 days.
Non-negotiable – no sugar, no grain, low carb, focus on anti-inflammatory foods.
If cheat-day – use 2-day fat fast afterward. This is the number one goal over the next 90 days. This is the non-zero. This must be done. Without health and a sense of wellbeing, the rest will fall apart. The diet I’m using is an experiment to see if I can lessen the side effects of my medication.
- 1000 words
- 1hr music
- 1 complete drawing
These are the most meaningful options for me. The most fulfilling.
- Publish 1x week
- Email list
- Social Media
They might not seem like much, but they are the foundational steps that I need to move forward. And over the next 90 days, I’m very committed to making them happen.
So you know where you want to be in 6 months. You know what changes you would like to see. So what are the steps you can start taking today, tomorrow and next week to get there?
Break them down into their smallest chunks. The smallest minimum viable steps you can take to create more of what you do want?
Write them down.
Make a committment to yourself.
Worst case, you’ll learn as you try. And learning is improvement.
See, really, this post isn’t what I want it to be – and that’s ok. I’m making the steps. I’ll learn things as I go. You will too.
I believe in you.
Go – start learning and creating something for yourself. Let me know how it works out for you?
What goal are you starting with?