AIM, SHOOT, SCORE Go for changes that are positive, healthy and move you forward personally.
Set meaningful, achievable goals for 2017 by taking stock
It’s Christmas week. And once we get past the busyness of preparing for it all, Christmas is a time of year that lends itself naturally to re-evaluating life. By looking to the year gone by and to the year that’s yet to come you can start to build a picture of what is meaningful to you, what you want to keep in your life and some things you’d like to let go of.
I was recently told about, and encouraged to do, an interesting and helpful exercise for making meaningful goals. It is a reflective exercise that I have adapted here for you to try.
To start with, take some time out by yourself this Christmas where you will be alone for a few hours with a pen and paper, in nice comfortable surroundings if possible.
Write down three headings: Personal, Professional and Relational. Under each heading write about what went well in the past year. What are you proud of? What worked out for you? Remember to include as much as possible, even those things that seem too small or insignificant. Following this and using the same headings write about what didn’t go so well. What are you least proud of? What didn’t work out? What were stressors in each of the areas? What did you struggle with?
Lastly, using what you have written so far, identify core things that you were happy with and things you were not so happy with in the past year. These will provide the basis for long-term goals for the year to come.
For example, it could be that you were happy and proud with how your work life has been progressing, but unhappy with how much it impacted on your personal life or your relationships. You may decide to leave it as it is or turn it into a long-term goal by cutting back in some area of your work. Another example could be that you ended a relationship in the past year. You feel this is a positive step in the relational category, but yet you now recognise that you feel lonely and isolated. A goal for the coming year could be to find ways to reconnect with others or make new friends.
I came across an interesting idea online that suggests that we identify just one task, activity or skill to learn or change at the beginning of each month. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just make it something that is positive, healthy and moves you forward personally, professionally or relationally. One thing achieved every month can be a sustainable and fulfilling way of making changes.
Most importantly, be realistic with what you want to achieve over the next year. Don’t make it all about stopping negatives. Instead make it about introducing and increasing the positives that are already in your life.
Jannah Walshe is a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Castlebar and Westport. A fully accredited member of The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, she can be contacted via www.jannahwalshe.ie, or at firstname.lastname@example.org or 085 1372528.