My word it's been quite a year. It would be hard for me to sum up in one post but here's a try:
-lots of learning
- farm changes
- started new projects
- managed to not keep up with a few projects ;)
When I look back at 2015, there are a few things I'd like to do differently next year. Rather than writing a bunch of resolutions, I'm going to take some time tonight to reflect on the year that was and what worked as well as what I would have like to have been different (did that even make sense?).
Only after I've spent some time on that, I will be reflecting on who I really am and where I really put my energy. You see, it's all well and good to have resolutions and goals and aspirations but if your goal is to swim across some big body of water by the end of the year and you can't swim and you're scared of water, you might want to reconsider. Unless the "why" is really compelling (like you're raising money for some cause that deeply touches you and this is the only way to do it or something).
So, start off thinking about what you want. Want to write a book? Want to paint? Go on a trip?
Now, think about what you're going to give up to get that. That's right, you are, inevitably, going to give something up to get it. If you're a working parent who wants to be an at home parent, you're probably giving up most of your income. If you're hoping to write a book and need at least an hour a day to do it, you have to find an hour with something you want to do less than write a book. See what I'm saying? Want to swim across the aforementioned body of water? Run a marathon? Plant a garden? Lose weight? You absolutely will be giving up something to do that.
Don't think so? Consider this - if not, then why haven't you done it already? It's not probable that you hit Dec 31 and suddenly thought "I want to write a novel this year". It's possible, I grant you, but most resolutions are things that have been brewing for weeks, if not months, and years. So, spend some time thinking about why you didn't give up something to make room for it before.
So maybe before you start off with where you're heading, you could back track a little. Where have you been that you love? What makes you not care about the basics (like hygiene and eating)? What could you live in a tent for? What could you work in [imagine your worst job ever] to finance? What is as essential to you as life? If you never made any money at it, what would you be doing with your time?
If it's Candy Crush (or something like that) are you being honest with yourself? Do you really want to give up an hour of "downtime" (secret: it's not down time to your brain) to write a book, paint, run, garden, swim, whatever? Really think about it instead of setting an impossible goal and then feeling like crap when you didn't meet it.
If there is an hour you could give up (or 30 minutes or whatever) figure out how you can use that time to make progress towards your goal. Maybe every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you'll use one of those hours to write, swim, whatever. I see it all of the time in my day job-people are going to drop out of life and live off the land, write and sell the next [insert big title here], paint a tonne of paintings, sell all of them and be famous, run a marathon, whatever. And they head out great guns only to have an injury because the last time they ran a 10k was 10 years ago or they waste hour "researching" the particulars of Victorian mourning rather than rocking the plot and making a note to come back to it (I may resemble that) or they pick up their phone and start onto Boom Beach and then they haven't started their Etsy shop, baked their sample cakes, or whatever.
So be realistic. It's not a big thing to give up 30 mins every day or every other day for something you're really into - or is it? Instead of saying you're going to do it for a year, try it for a week. If you do it for a week, do it for another week and so on. Before you know it, you may have a whole year wrapped up and feel like you've achieved something.
On the other hand, you might get to the end of the first week and realize you don't really want to make your own Willy's Wonka chocolates but you've only taken a week to figure it out. That leaves 51 weeks of the year that don't feel like you've failed. It's a big distinction. I've watched this cycle over and over and I can tell you that failing to meet your goal weekly for 52 weeks will knock the wind out of someone's sails. Failing to meet your goal for one week is usually no biggie.
So before you get all resolutiony, may I suggest a few things to help?
First of all - throw out the vision board crap. Seriously. People spend hours on those things and then sit back and wait for them to come true, or worse, rack up debt trying to shoehorn their life into having whatever they've cut and pasted without giving up anything to get there.
Do some people use them well? Can they ever be useful? You bet but only as a visual reminded of where you're headed. Maybe do a board of what you're willing to do to make your dreams happen? That might be more useful. In my experience, Vision Boards are less than helpful. More energy goes into making them than achieving the goal they're supposed to represent.
Building a Vision Board to help you stay the course, to help you dig in and work harder to achieve your goals, and to help you feel motivation when motivation is flagging is a very worthwhile endeavour. Building a Vision Board because the Law of Attraction will magically bring all of your wishes to you? Um, no. I agree that putting negative out often gets negative but if it were that simple, why does Donald Trump have so much and lovely refugees who may be the kindest, most positive people live in refugee camps. You see what I'm saying? Yes, you need to be positive but thinking that it's as simple as putting positive out there and waiting for good to come knocking on your door is lame and, frankly, privileged.
Want more on that? Read Mark Manson's take on the Secret. It's awesome.
Second - take some time to just think and be quiet. Don't have that in your life? You might not want to have a goal that requires that. Reflect on your life - all of the experiences you can remember, both good and bad - that's what's shaped you. Do you like who you are? Do you want to change?
Third - realize that you may never find your passion or have a passion or live off your art or whatever thing you feel you should do. I loved Elizabeth Gilbert's statement to this effect in Big Magic. You might think "easy for her to say, she wrote Eat, Pray, Love" but guess what, she had been published before and didn't want to try to live off her art because she wanted to make the art she wanted to make, not burden it with being her income too. So yes now, she can live off her art but Eat, Pray, Love (not one of my favourite books, by the way) was written how it was because she had no thought of commercial success. We can all take a page out of her book and remember that when we're looking at goals.
Maybe you can live off your art but consider this - what happens when earning your living means you have to compromise the integrity of what you are doing? And I don't just mean severely edit a book but really, to get the sale/contract/deal you have to do or say something that goes against all of your values. Are you someone who can scale down your lifestyle? Would you want to? Those are things to consider before you decide on big career changes. Or maybe that's the trouble- your company has been bought out by another company and you find their [whatever] practices odious. Can you live off less and work somewhere that you feel good about? Do you stay where you are and balance that out with working on the side for a non profit that's in line with your values?
All things to consider.
Once you have and you have a goal or two swishing around your unconscious (or conscious, whichever), here are some steps.
1: Inventory - who are you? Seriously. Are you a shy, introvert (no, they're not the same thing), nerd who loves to code and wants to be at home and never leave? Are you a go getter? Do you play well with others? Be really honest with yourself. You can burn or shred this later but really, if you don't get to the heart of who you are, it is so much harder to set goals that will fit you.
How do you spend your time? So, you are interested in mechanics but you've never worked on any of the 16 cars in your yard? That would make me wonder what it is about mechanics that interests you. If you see that in yourself, ask that question -why do I think I'm interested but I don't actually do X, Y, or Z (that's zed here, by the way)?
How motivated are you?
I would ask that last one on a scale. From 1=I would sit on my couch, order pizza, and let the whole house fall apart around me while I watch Downton Abbey (or your own drug of choice) to 10= I am the type of person who can easily commit to giving up 30 minutes of TV (or whatever) in the evening to get up early and do that thing I want to do.
2: Where do you want to be by the end of the year? Not just what goal do you want to achieve but overall, how do you want life to look? Do you want to be in the same house? Same town? Same job? Same group of friends? Same academic or training programme?
3 : What are you willing to give up to make it happen? Seriously. This is a big one. I don't know anyone who is looking for time to kill on a regular basis. So much for the freedom computers would give us. If you're working a 60-80 hour work week, when would you train for a marathon? Would you take a different job to do it?
4: What are the baby steps to get there? It's not a big deal to allocate 30 mins a couple of times a week towards you goal. You can try it for a week and see how it goes. Add in the next week when you're successful. Hit the snooze button instead of getting up to the gym? Time to re-evaluate. Maybe you don't really want to [do that thing] as much as you want to stay up gaming. Maybe that's ok.
5: Who are you trying to impress? This is a big one. Your motivation to lose 30 lbs to prove your hotness to your ex much be huge in the first week post break up but it's going to lose oomph over time (which is a good thing, you want that to happen). Figure out a goal that's for you (and not to boost yourself esteem, just because it would be awesome). and go for that. Forget about proving anything or impressing anything, do the thing for the thing's sake.
6: How do you want to feel at the beginning, middle, and end of the process of getting there? Those are biggies and will give you clues about whether or not you're on track.
7: What big thing do you want to accomplish? It doesn't have to be anything. You could set a bunch of little goals throughout the year but fast forward and consider what you want to see when you look back at the end of 2016.
Alright? I think you've got some work to do, now get at it.