It's that time of the year again! We are soon to close the chapter on 2018 and will open up 2019. A new year with new opportunities lies before us, 4 seasons of exciting life adventures. But how do we make sure that we will make the most of this new year to come? By setting meaningful goals that will actually make a positive difference in our lives.
A few years ago I came across a book which is said to be the blueprint for all the self-help books out there. It explains how goal setting works and how it helps improve our lives in a way that, for the first time, made sense to me. Before I read that book I only heard about goal setting in a way that, if we believed something hard enough or do all the right things, the Universe would collaborate and it would happen, which I don't believe in. Or in a way that if we set a goal we have to work hard to make it happen, which I haven't seen work very well either.
In 'the new Psycho-Cybernetics' (cool title, right, the first edition was published in 1954), Maxwell Maltz describes how goal setting actually helps us to create the changes we want to see in our lives. According to him, when we have a clear goal to work towards, we can let our Automatic Success Mechanism help us to get there. So once we've set a goal and can make a mental picture of the outcome, we automatically focus our brain towards that outcome. Our brain then calibrates towards seeing opportunities around us which we would otherwise have missed and will use it's creative forces to come up with plans and ideas to work towards this goal. Your subconscious can be your best buddy when it comes to achieving your goals. It's a bit like trying to find the answer to a question and it's at the tip of your tongue, but you can't find it. Then you relax and move on, but 5 minutes later the answer pops up in your head. During the time that you were busy doing something else, your brain had continued to work on the question. And the same thing happens with our goals. We can work together with our subconscious in achieving them. This doesn't mean we can sit back and let it all come to us, but we can rely on the fact that we will have ideas and see opportunities which will help us get closer. And as we relax, helpful ideas will pop in our minds, because we give our creativity the opportunity to think outside the box. The work it takes to realize our goals, just becomes a lot more enjoyable this way.
So how do we make sure the goals that we are working towards are actually meaningful?
Before we figure out your meaningful resolutions for 2019, we need to take a little step back and look at the difference between goals that are based on strategies and goals that are based on needs. We often have trouble seeing the difference between the two, but for real results it is absolutely necessary that we do.
Strategies are things we do to fulfill a need that we have.
We eat to fulfill our need for food.
We meet up with friends to fulfill our need for friendship and love.
We go to museums to fulfill our need for aesthetic and beauty.
We spend time in nature to fulfill our need for connection and health.
Knowing this difference is important, because we can get stuck in a strategy that isn't leading us to where we actually want to go. When we focus on our needs we can be more creative and flexible. We can come up with numerous strategies to work towards fulfillment of our need, so if one doesn't work we aren't lost, but able to figure out another way. It also shows you that not the strategy, but the need is what is important. Everything we do is to fulfill a certain need, we just aren't always aware of it.
Here is how you can formulate your meaningful goals for 2019
Below you can find a list of our Universal Human Needs. First I want to ask you to look at the topics and choose the one that you would like to create more of in 2019. Do you want more harmony, community, nurture, relaxation, meaning or connection?
Click on the image to download this overview for free
Then secondly I want you to choose two needs from that topic. Don't think too long about it, you know what you need more of in your life.
Now imagine how it would feel if these needs would be fulfilled. Can you imagine a situation in which this would have happened? What are you wearing, seeing, smelling, feeling? By keeping this image alive you will keep pointing your mind in the right direction.
If you have this image clear, write down your topic and two needs. It's time to get creative. For the next 2 minutes, write down anything that comes to mind which could contribute to your vision. What can you do? What changes of circumstances would help? Who could help you? Try to write down at least 5 things.
Now, we are going to take full responsibility for our needs. We can ask for help or request others to contribute to our needs, but we can't change them or make them do anything. You have to take responsibility for you and your needs. So looking at everything that would contribute to your vision, what actions will you take? Write those down "I am going to.....", try to have at least 5.
Great, you've now given yourself a vision and some actual actions to start working with. You can now see that there are multiple things you can try to achieve your vision. You are no longer stuck with just one strategy. Now put a number in front of your actions based on how likely you are to try out this strategy. This will show you where to prioritize your efforts.
'About 6 years ago I had this vision of my life. I saw myself lying in the grass, staring at the clouds. Something that I had loved doing as a kid. I was extremely busy at that time, working 24-7 as a primary school teacher. I didn't know the last time I felt relaxed enough to just lay in the grass and see the clouds pass by. I was looking for ease and simplicity in my life. I remember one year later, after I had done my mindfulness teacher training, had quit my job and had started working for myself that I found myself lying in the grass, watching the clouds go by and I remembered this vision I had. I felt quite emotional that I had made it there.'
I never consciously worked towards my vision, but subconsciously I did. So I am not going to tell you to now work hard putting your actions in place. There is no need to force anything. If your vision is strong enough and your longing for it deep enough, you will take action and your mind will filter out the opportunities necessary to get there. If you feel inspired to take action now, go for it. If you don't, give yourself some time and keep remembering where you want to get to. When I started my mindfulness teacher training, I didn't force myself to meditate. I wanted to get there, but life was hectic and busy. I set the intention to meditate and one day, I just started doing it. And then it became a regular thing. It is okay to be kind to yourself and take it easy.
And remember, the start of a year is not the only moment we can start creating a positive difference in your life. If at any point you feel inspired, come back to this page and see what's next.
I hope 2019 will be a beautiful new adventure for you!