Happiness · Life Planning · Lifestyle

Reaching your goals

I started this blog in as part of my ‘100 things to do in 2017’ challenge. The list I made contained all sorts of goals – from going to interesting places, spending time with friends, working on personal wellbeing, finances and broadening my horizons in terms of learning. Setting personal goals is a great way to ensure you have a fulfilling life. So what have I experienced along the way and what would I change in my approach next year?

1) It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality

I am notorious for being super competitive with myself. This includes trying to become really good at things in a short space of time and always aiming to be top class at everything that I do. I have long since learnt that this is not a fulfilling way to live life. It’s more important to pick the things that matter and bring space and joy to your being. Select fewer things and master them. To my delight, I have still kept going with harmonica classes. Usually I would have moved onto the next hobby by now, but learning the harmonica has given me a social and creative outlet that I’ve really enjoyed, so I’ve stuck to it. Equally, items like ‘scrapbooking’ did not make the cut this year in terms of completed goals. This is because I also had set a task to hoard less and keep the house tidy, so this goal was held with a higher priority and the messy fun of scrapbooking took a backseat. Knowing me, I would have filled the house with scrapbooks otherwise! So I have not completed all of my 100 goals, but of the 40-50 that I will finish on this year, I have enjoyed every single one of them. And if we want to quantify (even though that’s not the point), almost one a week is something to be pretty proud of 🙂

2) Plan with friends and family

This year I had written down all of my goals and asked my friends to note down which ones they’d be interested in joining via a shared Google doc. This would have been a great approach if there was more on there that we were equally interested in. Of course this year was about raising my personal happiness, so it was rather self indulgent. But it did mean that I couldn’t so easily see my friends on the fly. So next year for some of my nearest and dearest I’m trying to select at least three fun things I can do with each of them.

3) Don’t be self judgemental

I found myself pondering over whether to check off goals as completed or not. For example, one item I placed down was ‘set boundaries to look after myself’. I still feel like some work needs to be done in that area, but I did check it off the list because compared to where I was last year, I’ve come on leaps and bounds and it’s important for self acknowledgement with these types of goals.

4) There is no right or wrong way to create a life plan

Certainly there may be more effective ways of creating one, but even a list of 10 things you want to achieve is better than having no list at all. In creating my 2018 plan, I have found the essence of my plan has been very different to this year. My plan is based on one central focus; this year it was happiness and next year it is wisdom. It has been interesting to see how these two different words have resulted in extremely different tones of the micro goals that I have set. This year has been borderline chaotic, dashing from one outing to the next, like some massive happiness junkie. Even looking at the plan for next year, it seems a slower pace and like everything on my list of goals really tightly ladders up to my central theme. I’ve adapted a lot of small things in the planning approach, involving friends during the planning stage and finding smaller ways that can enhance my experience, such as keeping a mini pocket diary with me to write one thing I’m thankful for each day. So when times are tough, I can take the diary out wherever I am and remind myself of all the wonderful moments and things in my life.

5) Be brave and keep going

It is easy to set some goals and place them down, never to be looked at again. But it’s incredibly important to be brave and to keep going. If you want a fulfilling life, it’s important to be clear about your intentions and to work at them. Also, be brave in the sense that if you selected a certain approach and it’s not working for you and no longer serving you, change your approach. Be fluid and dance your way towards all that you aspire to. Also, if you’re in one of those ruts where you don’t know what to aspire to, I recommend making a list of lots of new things to try. Perhaps you may gind new things daunting, so pick a handful that stretch you just enough to experience something new but aren’t wholly offputting. At best, you will find that very inspiration that you’re looking for or at worst you’ll have injected some fun and variation into your life and broadened your horizons. It’s win-win.

6) Review, review, review

You’ve done the hard work of placing in time to create goals. The hard work of planning is done, so do yourself justice and periodically review your goals. You’ll either have the satisfaction of checking a completed goal off your list or remind yourself of what’s really important to you. It puts your personal objectives at the forefront of your attention and makes sure you keep on top of what matters most in terms of leading a fulfilling life.

7) You will accomplish more than you dreamed of

The thing about planning and creating, doing and achieving a set of goals is that your journey doesn’t stop there. Sure you may switch your main theme/focal point each year (if you write a plan similarly to how I have), but the seeds you have sown and harvested in the first year continue to flower time and time again. I always wanted to help people, but never had an outlet to. I started this blog as a vehicle to hopefully reach some people and make a difference. From there (and in combination with my other goals), I ended up attending events and classes and learning more about how people have different approaches to being happy, as happiness is personal to each of us. All of these interactions resulted in opportunities presenting themselves. I signed up for a masters degree in Mindfulness and also have recently been presented with an opportunity to run workshops in stress reduction. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t first created a goal and gone after it. Each goal is just a beginning, from which other opportunities sprout and grow.

Final note

It can be easy to think that life goals and goal setting each year or whatever period works best for you is just a simple to do list like a shopping checklist. But it’s so much more than that. If you follow it diligently, you actively live the life that you want to live. Many of us (myself previously included) allow life to happen to us. I remember someone saying to me how lucky I was. And they are right, I am a lucky person. But most of that ‘luck’ came as a result of applying myself and putting in the hard work first. Remember that happiness and fulfilment is not an entitlement, just as sadness or anger or despair need not be a life sentence. Often it’s easy to let life happen, and it’s fine for this to be the case only if you’re fine with it. If not, do something about it. Even if it’s something seemingly silly like bouncing about in a trampoline park because you simply don’t know what you want and what goals to set. The power truly is in each of our hands.

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