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Setting Goals & Intentions for the Year Ahead

January tends to be a good month to use as a benchmark for goals and accomplishments. The new year and incrementally lengthening days bring a sense of reinvigoration and fresh potential. In the spirit of looking ahead, I have tried out five different methods of goal-setting and vision calibration. You can find the methods and my notes below. Feel free to try some out and share your own findings and suggestions!


¹1¹ · The Method: Meditate & Manifest

Contributed by Sara


The Essence: Take 15 minutes to sit alone in a comfortable place. Meditate to connect to your environment and see what your heart reveals in the solitude. Journal the thoughts - write present-tense positive manifestations, list items of gratitude, and potentially identify "One Little Word" for the year.


The Setup: This one was fun! The recommendation was to sit in a circle of candles. I took this opportunity to use a collection of my absolute favorite candles and meaningful items. Feel free to be intentional about the items you select. You might be surprised by the way your intuition leads you - Listen to it! For me, it did feel good to incorporate my favorite potted plant. It did feel good to include an amethyst crystal, light the candles from a stick of jasmine incense, to softly play ocean tones in the background - gentle surf rolling over rocks. It also felt good to write with a pen that glides easily in my hand...in a special notebook reserved for treasured thoughts.


Method in Practice: I sit on the floor inside of my candle ring. Barefoot, I take a moment to dig my toes into the soft carpet and take a few deep, measured, rhythmic breaths to center myself. The irrelevant sounds of my surroundings fall away. My ears tune to the waves... water over rock... simultaneously melodic and mesmerizing. I allow myself to be in this moment...not for a set amount of time...but simply for as long as the moment wants to exist. As long as it takes. I just..am.


In this state, I am able to envision myself in the year to come. My mind naturally drifts to the areas of my life that deserve attention. As with the staging preferences above, I allow my intuition to dictate where my thoughts wander. This is the point where you don't need my instruction -- Your mind might not communicate in words. In fact, I'm almost certain it doesn't! Maybe your mind speaks in colors...numbers?...melodies! Take this time to allow your beautiful mind to self-direct.


Within the exercise, I interpreted my own thoughts through the illustrious, classic art of...doodling.


Primarily, I let my hand glide over the page, while I tried to envision a single word to loosely embody the spirit of this coming year for me. I know you might think "Oh, floating, huh? Isn't that a little on-the-nose?" Or maybe that was my internal lingering (but fading!) sense of imposter syndrome. But there really is no wrong answer here. For me, what this represents is what my manifestations reflect:


With friends and loved ones, I effuse levity in order to embrace joy and presence in our interactions.

In this year, I am remembering to be carefree as I release anxiety and stress.

I embrace weightlessness as I cast off that which no longer serves me.

Through all of my efforts I am finding new ways to fly!

The gratitude I have for the gift of each new day will shine through me: to be light and give light.

This year, I will float and rise!


Finally, I close with a brief gratitude journaling:

In this moment, I am thankful for:

○ Space to breathe

○ Opportunity for a new adventure

○ Unending affection

○ Creativity at my fingertips

○ Warmth


²2² · The Method: Open Brainstorm


Contributed by Lexie


The Essence: For 3-5 minutes, sit in a quiet space and journal everything that comes into your mind. No need to analyze, plan, or filter.


The Setup: This method is so pleasantly effortless. It's a great place to start if you're overwhelmed by the prospect of organizing your goals, or if you suffer from Analysis Paralysis (overthinking a project so much that you never. actually. start.)!


Method in Practice: I was really looking forward to trying this one out. Simplicity is such a much-sought attribute in this hectic, stimuli-rich millennium. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, I grabbed my trusty notebook and a mug of hot tea and plopped down on the couch under a comfy blanket.

Seriously - so far, so good. Titled a "Heartstorming Session", it went a little something like this:


[After two solid minutes of staring in trepidation at a fresh, blank page]

♥×Heartstorming Session×♥

Why is this so hard to begin?? What do I want for myself this year? For my family? For the world?

I've experienced several major shifts recently already! Finding my voice. Falling in love with myself again (...or maybe for the first time??), changing my career path after charging 5 years in a particular direction. On the verge of turning 35. Honestly..I feel great. So excited & more prepared than ever to take on new challenges. Is there a float spa in 2021? Actually, I'm sure there'll be many!

And so many new relationships forged by this shared passion. Now that I've finally gotten comfortable in my own skin, its time to really see what I can do - how I can push myself further. Physically, emotionally out of comfort zone. Stepping up to the mirror and really examining why I do things.. Why I react in certain ways.. Any preconceptions that I need to question. Find ways to dream bigger. Be more deeply empathetic and a better friend. I could absolutely stand to be more present - to give my full attention to people and situations. Spend time dreaming up ideas, solutions, inventions - instead of wasting time being bogged down by anxiety, guilt, negativity, small-mindedness. Fully embrace an abundance mentality and give freely & whole-heartedly of my time, my care, & my resources...That sounds pretty good to me :)


Once all of your thoughts are out on paper, it is much easier to organize, sift through the noise, and see what's important to you. You can employ this practice as often as every day. Some wake up and perform this type of data-dump as soon as they get out of bed, in order to clear out any worries or concerns that are taking up space in their conscious mind.


³3³ · The Method: SMART Goals


Contributed by Hamza




The Essence: Take one specific goal and run it through this established filter to plan, optimize, and track your progress through to successful completion. This is a process through which you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, and maximize your productivity in a structured and systematic way.


The Setup: This method is essentially the antithesis of the method above (although SMART can be applied to refine the same goals discovered through open brainstorming). You can use it to achieve almost anything, from fitness / strength training targets, language learning, achieving that new job / promotion, repairing a relationship, even being a better friend, or starting a business!

Here is what the SMART acronym represents:


S - Specific

Your goal must be very clear and answer the five W's:

What do I want to accomplish?

Why is this goal important?

Who is involved?

Where is this located?

Which resources or limits are involved?


M - Measurable

There must be a way to quantify and track your progress. Be able to answer questions such as:

How much?

How many?

How will I know when this goal is accomplished?


A - Achievable

This goal should stretch your comfort zone, but still be realistic and attainable.

*Beware of setting goals that have aspects that are completely out of your control.

Ask yourself:

What are barriers of entry (including financial) to reaching this goal?


R - Relevant

This thing your working toward should align with your values and who you are striving to be.

Don't forget to consider:

Does this goal really MATTER to me?

Does it align with other goals I have set for myself?


T - Time-Bound

Your goal needs a target date and intermittent deadlines to keep you on track and to measure progress. This allows long-term goals to remain within reach.

Remember to ask:

When?

What can I do in the next 6 months?

What can I do in the next quarter?

What can I do this week?

What can I do today?


Method in Practice: This is intriguing, and I can see how it can be applied in so many ways.

The goal I've chosen to run through this filter is "I will walk/run 1000 miles this year."


First, (S) Specific -

What? I choose to move my body and travel 1,000 miles either by running, walking, or hiking by the last day of 2021. I got the inspiration from an amazing supplement / wellness company I follow - Alpen Organics (Instagram: @AlpenOrganics). They have issued a free challenge to anyone that wants to achieve this goal. They provide a tracker log, online support community, and opportunities to cheer one another on by posting photos to their shared online group.


Why? Fitness is important to me. I am looking for ways to push my body and self-control farther than I would on my own. This extrinsic motivator will keep me moving! Plus, it seems pretty fun.


Who? Me (But its also nice that I can watch and encourage the progress of everyone else signed up.)


Where? Anywhere I want. Mostly outdoors, but I can use my treadmill in the case of bad weather.


(M) Measurable -

This one is pretty easy - When I hit 1,000 miles, I will know that my goal has been achieved.

I'll keep a log (to be updated after each session) to track my progress.


Next, (A) Achievable -

I feel as though this goal will be attainable to me personally. I did not track my movement last year, specifically, but I know that my running sessions usually log 6 miles, minimum of 4 times a week (when its warm out at least! brrrr). I should be able to hit this with increased discipline and focus.


(R) Relevant -

As mentioned above, fitness is really important to who I am as a person. This goal is aligned with my mantra of "Ever-evolving". There is nothing about this endeavor that will personally compromise my beliefs or morals. It complements well with my desire to eat clean, optimize my potential, and respect my body.


Finally, (T) Time-Bound -

The #1000MileChallenge really took the guess-work out of this one for me. The timeline is

January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. To keep on track, my schedule should roughly align with the following:

83.3 Miles / Month

19.2 Miles / Week

2.74 Miles / Day


I've been tracking my progress since 1/1:

January 1st - #FirstDayHike! - 10 Miles - Cutler, ME

January 8th - 4 Miles - Brandywine Creek State Park - Wilmington, DE

January 10th - 2 Miles - Delcastle Park - Wilmington, DE

January 15th - 2 Miles - Delcastle Park - Wilmington, DE

January 16th - 3 Miles - Fairhill - Northeast, MD

January 18th - 2 Miles - Wilmington, DE

= 23 miles so far this month. And thanks to this filter, I realized I should probably pick up the pace a bit so I'm not struggling to cram them in later!




⁴4⁴ · The Method: Year in Review


Contributed by Jono & Elaine


The Essence: Before looking forward and goal-setting for the new year, refresh yourself on all that you have accomplished in the last year leading up to this point!


The Setup: Review any of your goal trackers from last year. COVID threw the world for a loop, but feel free to use any proud milestones in recent memory. It would help to consult any journals, calendars, or trackers that you used. Even social media posts and photos can serve as a great reminder of ways that you were able to persevere!


Method in Practice: I scoured my social media accounts, old Outlook calendar, and my phone photos to refresh my memory. You can track your accomplishments however you like, but I chose to pick one great thing from each month. Remember, if it matters to you, then it MATTERS! Nothing is too small if it's meaningful in your heart.


Recap of last year's accomplishments:

January - Created a home gym so I could stay active without leaving the house. (Foreshadowing??)

February - Became a member at East Coast Float Spa, serving as my intention to commit to this wellness practice long-term

March - Consciously increased my volunteerism (although the events quickly became virtual)

April - Completed my first "big girl run" - the [virtual] Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

May - Became a Quarantine Sourdough Queen (self-anointed)

June - Brought my daughter home from her 3-month quarantine in Maine (happy tears)

July - Was nominated for a Readers' Choice Award for my work

August - Lia and I successfully transitioned her into Kindergarten

September - Ran the Broad Street 10-Miler remotely

October - Hiked the Precipice Trail in Acadia - my highest peak to date

November - Completed a really difficult certification for work

December - Launched a blog!! (Haaay! You know a little something about that!)


Its pretty clear to me what's meaningful in my life in these moments: family · fitness · floating.

I'll be sure to continue these themes going forward. One of my contributors suggested that you take what's important from last year and ask yourself "What is it that I need so desperately that I would walk through walls to get it? Because, believe me, you will have to!"



5 · The Method: Bullet Journaling


Contributed by Chrissy


The Essence: This one is for the Creatives! A beautiful blend of arts & crafts, precision, organization, and whimsy. You take a gridded notebook, choose a theme to embody your desired vibe, and follow a somewhat meticulous system of lists to keep track of your productivity over the course of the year.


The Setup: Most tutorials I've read say you can start with just a notebook and a pen, but it seems as though to do it "right", you'll want a gridded notebook, colorful pens, markers, washi tape, stickers, and various decorative aspects that convey your personality. If you miss decorating your high school planner, you'll love this. Initial setup will take 10-20 minutes.


Method in Practice

Step 1: Grab a notebook with blank pages or a dot grid (experts recommend to AVOID lined pages).

Step 2: Customize the first page to your heart's content. This is your Title Page. Doodle your name, the year, or a favorite quote. This helps to "break the ice" so your hand and brain are both ready to dive into the structured design of the subsequent pages.


Step 3: Create an Index. Reserve the first three pages past your customized Title Page for your Index. Beyond these three pages, you'll want to start numbering all subsequent pages (starting with Page 1). The Index serves as your Table of Contents so you can flip to sections easily. You don't have to fill it in yet, but eventually it will contain, at a minimum, each section and page number. You can also

color-code it when you get comfortable.


Step 4: Create a Key (or Legend). Bullet journaling is all about shorthanded lists, so its important to

convey some aspects using symbols. You can use whichever symbols you like, but here are some commonly used shapes & terms:


Step 5: Setup the Future Log. This lists all upcoming notable dates and events. It is basically a list-styled calendar. It will also serve as a reference guide for your Monthly & Daily Logs. Future Log is essentially, your Year-At-A-Glance.




Step 6: Add your Monthly Log. This will correspond to whenever you want to start (no need to start on January if it has already passed. Basically, you will use a two page spread to organize the month. You will have some version of a calendar on the left page and then list out your tasks / assignments / goals. On the right page. Feel free to take full artistic license in the layout, but here's a good example (from someone with much better handwriting than me!):




Step 7: Add the Daily Log. This is the real heart of the bullet journal system. This is where you get really granular with your tasks. As the name suggests, you will encouraged to created a new Daily Log every single day to keep yourself on whatever tasks you've outlined for the month. As you go about your routine, you will either cross items off or, using symbols from your key, move them forward to the next day's log. Generally your actions will be to Complete, Migrate, or Cancel a task line.


Step 8: Add any additional lists / collections you would like. There are plenty of fun inspiration lists like "Favorite Playlists of Jan 2021"; "Mood Tracker" where you color a grid according to how you feel each day, a sleep tracker -- The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and a google search!


Step 9: Don't forget to go back and fill in your Index once you've started to fill out your pages. You can really go down a rabbit hole getting "BuJo Inspo". I have referenced one of my favorite YouTube content experts in the notes below.


So now, I'd love to know: Would you try any of these? What do you do to get yourself aligned with your dreams for a new year? As always, thank you SO much for reading. Happy New Year & welcome to the beautifully abundant Age of Aquarius!


-A




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"...There are plenty of fun inspiration lists like "Favorite Playlists of Jan 2021"; "Mood Tracker" where you color a grid according to how you feel each day..."

Love this idea so much that I altered it a bit by creating a "Mood Blanket" where I assign a color for each type of emotion my day could be: yellow for happy, blue for calm, pink for inspired, etc. At the end of each day I decide what my overall feeling was and mark it in a journal, and then I crochet a small swatch on to the previous day color. By the end of the year I will have a blanket about 60 x 65 inches representing my overall feelings fo…

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