Moving forward with intention
Updated: Feb 25
I'm not sure how you feel about goal setting- I know it can be an energizing and exciting experience for some, while being anxiety provoking and stressful for others.
Over time, I've found a way to incorporate goal setting with intention setting, and have found that to be a good way to stay on track and heading in the right direction, without worrying too much about the road I'm taking to get there.
I have a practice that I do every year that helps to organize my thinking, create space to dream and imagine what I want for myself, and to feel into what feels most important right now- and how I want to stay close to my values into the new year and beyond.
The practice has been collected from different sources, and of course, I've added expressive arts elements. Including drawing, movement, and writing as an important way to integrate and synthesize what feels important, and find new ways to understand what can not always be expressed in words.
So, here's how you do it:
Step 1: Set aside an afternoon. If you are a mom of little ones like me, or finding a free afternoon is hard to come by, you can break this up into at least 4 hours across a weekend, but it's best done in one sitting.
Step 2: Gather your materials. This should include your calendar or planner from the previous year & one for the coming year if you have or use one, paper, writing and drawing materials such as oil pastels, colored pencils, or markers.
Step 3: Start with your calendar or planner from the past year. Review significant holidays, events, accomplishments, and goals from the past year. Consider what you wanted to accomplish last year and what stands out to you as significant, important or noteworthy (If this is not something you've done before, don't worry. Going forward, you will have a concrete way to review your goals. For now, just consider more generally what you've accomplished from the past year). An important element here is giving ourselves a chance to look back at the past year and see how far we've come. Though there may not be any significant event that stands out, take the time to acknowledge the growth that has occurred- you're not the same person you were a year ago. Allow yourself to feel the gratitude, accomplishment, pride, grit, and strength that it has taken to get here (especially over this past year!).
Step 4: Now take a blank sheet of paper and write down these categories:
-creative self expression
Feel free to add any other category that feels important to you
Step 5: Brainstorm what you'd like to have do or accomplish this year, for example:
-relationships: develop my creative community
-work/career: continue to serve my community, maintain a good work/life balance
-health: drink more water, develop a daily yoga practice, be gentle on myself
Do this with each category. Don't worry about getting this right- there's no wrong way to do this. Allow yourself to write whatever comes up, about a sentence or two for each
Step 6: Then take a moment to imagine the ideal outcome for you in each of these categories. Let your imagination stretch to what feels like your deepest longing. Write a paragraph for each category using the statements, "I have...." "I will..." or "I am..."
Step 7: Write out the top overall goals for yourself, up to 10. This could look like: Having a happy family living in a supportive community, being able to travel and support yourself doing what you love. From there, write out your 5 Year Goals, then your 1 Year Goals, then your 6 month and 1 month goals, finishing with your 1 week goals. All goals should break down the goals above. For example, if your goals is to have a happy family living in a supportive community, your 5 Year Goal may be to save for a house in a neighborhood you love, 1 Year Goal is to have a certain amount saved, etc.
Take your time with this. If you need to take a break, get up and walk around before coming back.
Step 8: Now, looking over your goals and ideal scenario, see what feelings, thoughts or ideas emerge for you. What word(s) or phrase(s) capture what the focus and intention is with the goals you have chosen? For me, the words that emerged were Rest and Fun. Especially given the year that was 2020, I have needed to acknowledge the need to prioritize rest, as well as make conscious room for fun.
Step 9: Create a drawing that includes the elements and feelings generated from step 8. Let this be an intuitive process, and let yourself be surprised by what emerges. Here's a picture of my drawing below:
After reviewing the drawing, a 3rd word (phrase) emerged for me: Reaching out and reaching in.
Step 10: This is the fun part. Move the drawing. Pick some music that resonates with your chosen word(s), and use the drawing as a starting point. How does rest and fun feel in your body? What are the actions of reaching out and reaching in? Take as much time as you need with this, and give yourself time to reflect and write down any insights, ideas or questions that emerge.
That's it! You now have a blueprint for moving into the new year and beyond with intention and concrete action steps, as well as a felt sense of what it means to work towards the goals.
I'm sharing it here in the hopes that it can provide you with resources to develop your own reflective intention setting practice that feels supportive and sustaining for you.
Over the past few years, this has been an incredibly grounding practice and a way to feel that I am moving forward with intention.
May it do the same for you.