sweet afternoon

image: Lo&

I love January & February because I see them as a time when I can set my intentions for the year. I love feeling energized and inspired after a little time off, and taking the time to lay out plans to make sure I’m doing what I can to have an amazing year.

What’s talked about less at this time of year is that it’s also the perfect time to consider the way we think about our goals & plans for the year, and how that can impact our daily life, and what we decide is worth spending time on. So much of the time our concept of goals or plans have an external or “end results” focus. They’re things that we can physically observe or experience and feel rewarded by. Job changes, hair styles, losing weight, travelling- these aren’t negative things, but they’re only one way of thinking about the coming year and how we can spark change for ourselves.

This year I made a point of shifting my focus from the end result focused changes to changes I wanted to make to my experience of the coming year. These are what I call expansive & experience focused goals, because they allow for more room to breathe and flexibility in how you carry them out.

Some of My Experience Focused Goals:

    • Do what I can to have a rested body & positive mind every day
    • Strengthen my relationships with my family & friends
    • Get my body stronger and explore healthy savoury foods I can make at home
    • Spend more time on handmade & cooking
    • Add more personality into my home’s decoration
    • Make choices that are stress reducers to decrease my experience of GAD
    • Give myself unscheduled time in the evening’s and weekend’s

Moving my focus to goals and priorities that are experience focused has made a huge difference in how I think about the coming days & months. Knowing that I’m an over achiever, when I make goals focusing on end results they can quickly change into rigid schedules that aren’t realistic, but that I’ll still feel guilty about not living up to. We’re taught to goal set in this scheduled, To Do list way during school, and while checking items off a list is effective for some things, ultimately our lives are the sum of our everyday experiences. Thinking about the little choices you can make to have more of a fun, authentic and energizing daily experience can have an incredible impact on your overall happiness- but it does takes a little effort to change the way we usually think about what a goal is.

So far, I’ve felt like my effort has been well spent. Switching the focus of my goals to from end results to experiences means that I’m putting value on how I approach and feel during every day, which helps me make choices that are great for me in the long term but that I’ll also benefit from right away. So far that makes it both a stress reliever, and a fun experiment!

1. Think about the end result focused changes that you’ve been wanting to make, and try to see the experience behind it. Is there a feeling that you’d like to have as a result of achieving that goal? Is your end result goal an attempt to schedule in a bigger experience? (e.g. Reading two books a month could be part of a bigger goal to keep learning or to explore the lives of historical figures you’re curious about)

2. Is there a way you can make that experience your goal, and then schedule different ways to achieve it every month? Separating out the feeling you want to get from how you’ll build that into your life means you can work toward your bigger goals in ways that are flexible and grow with you. You’ll still have that item on your To Do list to cross off, but if your new goal is to keep learning and previously you were going to read two books every month, you could listen to an audio book while walking to get your groceries and go to a free lecture at your local university. This flexibility in approach will help make it enjoyable to stick with throughout the year.

3. Schedule a “check in” reminder every one or two months. I’ve found that digital reminders on my smartphone are the best way for me to remember these maintenance tasks without cluttering up my daytime, and scheduling them to reoccur is extremely easy. When my reminder goes off – mine are always on a Sunday afternoon – I’ll take a detour what I’m doing to make a pot of tea and sit down for 15 – 30 minutes to look at my expansive, experience focused goals and schedule fun ways I can meet them every week of the month.

4. Make a reward system you can love! Using a results focused way to motivate yourself is an amazing way to get moving in the short term. If you were trying to blog more projects like I am, for a month you could “earn” a drink from your favourite coffee shop for every week that you posted a project on your blog, and then you could change the motivator after a month or move it to another goal you want to focus in on.

5. Remember that your life is about experiences, not items on a check list. Even though I’ve married myself to my day planner, sometimes I lose track of what I want my experience of daily life to be as my routines and looming deadlines take over my focus. Creating expansive goals that focus on my experience is a monthly reminder to ground myself in how I’m living every day, and to remind myself that adventure and possibility are always waiting for you to invite them in.

I’ve asked a special blogger I love  to share her thoughts and today’s post features Diana from Our.City.Lights:

Advice & Insight from Diana of Our.City.Lights:

“2011 was a year for recovery and planting roots. After overhauling my life completely from the people I shared my time with to my diet, I’m ready for 2012 to be a year of growth. I don’t have exact goals, but documenting my vegan and sometimes raw diet through Instagram has been a huge step for me. What I put in my body determines my day & sharing the healthy choices I’m making through photography has made sticking with my new habits something I look forward to”



Thanks for sharing Diana, I love how sharing your vegan diet through Instagram
has added another element of something you love to your day & helps you stay motivated.

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