As we approach the end of the year, it is natural to assess our personal and professional growth over the last twelve months. Sometimes though, we avoid structured reflection or goal setting because we feel confronted by the fact that we may not have reached the milestones and successes we had hoped and planned for at the start of the year.
If you feel this way, try out this quick 60-minute session that will encourage and empower you for the year ahead. It is broken down into Reflection, Alignment and Direction and will support you in crafting a life of intent in 2024.
Find a quiet place and consider a quick meditation first - or alternately stream some binaural beats on Theta frequency (4-8 Hz) to help you get into a flow state.
Use a pen and paper for this process - as completing it on your laptop will trigger work associations and you will struggle to be fully present.
REFLECTION (20 Minutes):
The act of putting pen to paper helps solidify your thoughts and makes the process more tangible. Too often we focus on what we did not achieve. Write a heading at the top of your list that says "I am proud to have achived the following..."
Professional Success (5 mins):
List your professional accomplishments, big or small. Did you complete a challenging project? Achieve a career milestone? Celebrate your growth. Remember that success may also look like stepping away from somtehing that was not serving you.
Personal Triumphs (5 mins):
Consider your personal life. What challenges did you overcome? What moments brought you joy? Recognise the resilience and strength you demonstrated.
Learning and Growth (5 mins):
Jot down new skills you acquired or knowledge you gained. Reflect on how these have contributed to your personal growth and professional development. This does not have to be formal learning. Consider a new hobby or interest - even knowledge gained through podcasts (those who know me, know that I love auditory education).
Gratititude Check (5 mins):
Express gratitude for the people and experiences that shaped your year. Recognising the positive aspects will help foster a mindset of appreciation.
ALIGNMENT (20 Minutes):
One of the greatest determinants of our ability to achieve our goals is that they are aligned. Often our goals are influenced by what we believe we SHOULD aspire to on the ladder of success, as opposed to what is in the best interests of our ecology (ie the impact on ourselves and on others we care about). This causes subconscious self-sabotaging behaviours, and we fail to achieve our stated goals.
Quiet Reflection (3 minutes):
Find a quiet space where you won't be disturbed. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and let go of any tension. Allow your mind to settle.
List Your Priorities (2 minutes):
On a blank sheet of paper, list the various aspects of your life, such as family, career, health, relationships, personal growth, and hobbies. Don't overthink; just jot down whatever comes to mind. You are only allocated 2 minutes to ensure you don’t overthink. If it helps, set a timer.
Circle Your Top 5 (2 minutes):
Look at the list and circle the five aspects that immediately stand out to you. These are areas you instinctively feel are important. Trust your initial reaction.
Reflect on Why (4 minutes):
For each circled aspect, write down why it's important to you. What do you value in that area? For example, if "family" is circled, your why might be "connection, support, and love."
Prioritise Your Values (3 minutes):
Review your circled aspects and their corresponding why statements. Prioritise them based on their significance to you. Which one holds the utmost importance? Number them accordingly.
Visualisation (4 minutes):
Close your eyes again and visualise a life where your top values are fully honoured. Where are you? What are you doing? Who is there? How do you feel? Picture the satisfaction and fulfilment that comes with living in alignment with what truly matters to you.
Reflection and Commitment (2 minutes):
Open your eyes and read through your prioritised values. Reflect on how aligned your current life is with these values. Are there areas where you can adjust to better honour your priorities? Commit to taking steps in that direction.
This activity will give you a clearer understanding of what truly matters to YOU. This insight will serve as a foundation for setting meaningful goals that resonate with your values, leading to a more fulfilling and purpose-driven life.
DIRECTION (20 minutes):
Set goals that resonate with the life you want to lead – not what you think is expected of you. Draw on your identified values and priorities from the Alignment activity as a guide whilst setting your goals. For instance, if "health" is a top value, set fitness or wellness goals – or it may even be to find a less stressful job! You may feel some resistance around crafting goals that are a step away from your traditional trajectory, but I encourage you to trust the process.
Goal Setting (5 mins):
It’s an oldie but a goodie because it works! Craft Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals. For example, instead of "exercise more," make it "run three times a week for 30 minutes each."
Visualise Success (5 mins):
Yes – we are doing this again! It is important here to use your senses when conducting this visualisation to ensure your goals are now aligned with your priorities. Envision yourself one year from now. How does it feel? Check in with yourself. How do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear in this new state where you have achieved your goals? Visualisation not only enhances motivation and commitment but is a litmus test to ensure our goals are truly aligned with our priorities.
Break it Down (5 mins):
Divide your goals into smaller, manageable tasks. This makes progress measurable and prevents overwhelm.
Plan Milestone Celebrations (3 mins):
Plan mini-celebrations or rewards for reaching milestones. Personally, I’m a rewards type of person. Every time I look at an item that is linked to a milestone, I am reminded of what I HAVE done and can CONTINUE to do. Acknowledging progress focusses your attention on the wins and keeps you motivated.
Accountability (2 mins):
Share your goals with a friend or family member. Accountability increases the likelihood of success. Don’t delay… get your phone and email or text them now. Set a time to meet for coffee and fill them in on your plans for 2024!
So… how did you find this exercise?
The Reflection, Alignment and Direction exercise has the ability to significantly impact your mindset and trajectory for the coming year. Remember that each step, no matter how small, contributes to your personal development and success.
Oh – and because I forgot to mention this earlier, remember to include FUN as a component of your goal setting for the year ahead. FUN is an incredibly freeing metric of success. If you fall a little short on a milestone, yet have ENJOYED the process, you’ve won - regardless!
Best wishes for a safe holiday season and a 2024 that brings you fulfilment and joy.
I look forward to connecting with you again in the New Year.