Without a destination new resolutions and actionable goals lose their power.
Your destination is likely to change over time. Storms will blow you off course and desperate times will require you to deploy the lifeboats. And yet, a heading gives purpose and clarity to goals and plans. At times disruptions will move you further along, once you recover from the unexpected. You are more likely to recognize them as opportunities if you have a destination in mind.
Start with a 5-year perspective. How old will you be in 5 years? How about those closest to you? I used to consider my spouse and kids. Now my children’s ages are less relevant, they will still be adults in 5 years. More impactful are my parents and grandchildren, 5 years will create significant change. How about your pet? I also added in my car.
Writing and drawing are thinking out loud. Use a plain piece of paper and draw stick figures of your family in 5 years. Imagine what day to day life might be like. What significant goals or milestones will be reached? What will your finances look like? How will finances or obligations change? Drawing your future self helps you better imagine reality. Your two-year-old will be in school. A teen will be an adult. Days take a long time, years fly by. Look ahead so you are better prepared.
Play with the possibilities. Imagine options and decisions. Extend your imagination out farther than five years. What life experiences do you hope to enjoy? Is there a legacy you want to leave?
Looking back at the five-year mark how do you describe your desired destination? Write it down in as few words as possible. Don’t dwell on the details. Take a fresh piece of paper and draw/write it out.
Now that you have a destination there is one other question to consider.
What are those things that only you can do? For example, when I was pregnant no one else could keep the baby inside me healthy. There was no delegating that responsibility. You are the only one to keep your body healthy and brain active. If you are a parent no one else can provide your child with the parent-child emotional bond that matters so much. If you have a spouse/partner, no one else can take care of your half of the relationship.
On the other hand, there are things that need to be done, but they don’t have to be done by you. Someone else can teach your child math. Someone else can take care of the committee. If funds allow, many things can be hired out. Some short-term goals may need to be let go in favor of the long term.
Taking your stick figure future self, consider what needs to be done to head in that direction, and which pieces only you can do. From there you have a map toward the future you want. Given your destination what needs to happen this year, or in the next few months, to head things in that direction?
Now resolutions and actionable, measurable goals can be useful.
Where are you heading?