Each New Year's Eve since around 2008, Bill, our two boys, and I have gone out to dinner armed with notepads and pens to set our goals and intentions for the coming year. The boys’ goals have gotten bigger as they have grown but Bill’s and my goals have stayed rather stagnant, focused on growing our businesses, exercising more, blah blah blah.
However, this year I approached my goal setting process a little differently. I read Danielle La Porte's awesome book "The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful & Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms" in which Danielle explains that most of us go after our goals in a completely backwards way. We often set goals believing that we will feel a certain way once we've achieved them. Have a baby and feel overjoyed. Get a promotion and feel confident. Buy a home and feel secure. But so very often it doesn't work that way. We feel overwhelmed with the new baby, insecure in the new job, anxious in the new home. No closer to happiness, confidence, or comfort than we were when we originally set out.
"Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have," writes Danielle La Porte. "Generating those feelings is the most creative thing you can do with your life."
So I started at the end by figuring out how I want to feel in 2014. I made lists of my strengths, of what activities I enjoy, and when I experience my very best self. I daydreamed and wrote and figured out what I wanted more and less of in my life. I narrowed pages and pages of yellow notebook paper down to four core feeling states: delighted, vibrant, generous, and effortless.
From there, I made more lists of what I wanted to do to create those feeling states - today, tomorrow, a month from now, later this year - to feel delighted, vibrant, generous, and effortless. For example, spending time outdoors on bikes or hiking with Bill and my boys, now aged nine and 11, delights me. Sundays are family days and I’m mapping out bike routes, discovering new hiking trails to explore, and filling up the calendar with ideas for our Sundays.
I feel most vibrant when I’m with a group of mommies sharing ideas, tools, and techniques to help make motherhood more joyful. I also feel generous when I’m sharing my ideas with moms, whether it’s in this newsletter, in my life coaching practice, or at free presentations for moms. I speak regularly at Sequoia Hospital’s new mothers group and I’m hoping to begin other free presentations to mommy support groups in the near future. I also have a lot of ideas on how I want to build a community for moms and I'll be sharing my plans soon.
As for effortless, that comes from trusting that nothing needs to be forced into being. Effortless means giving myself permission relax and enjoy the moments as they unfold, maybe not in the exact way that I imagine but in the very best way nonetheless.
So how will you start from the end and work backwards? How do you want to feel? And what can you do now - as in right now, right this very moment - to make those feelings come alive for you?
I'm a mother of two incredible boys, wife to Bill White of Happy Baby Signs, author of the books The Well-Crafted Mom and Signs of a Happy Baby, and an intuitive life coach. I like to blog about my adventures with my family and the life lessons I'm learning along the way. I hope you'll join me on this journey.
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