The past few days I’ve read with fascination (through a haze of viral meh-ness) a hundred differing posts about the New Year. Whether it’s a year in review, resolutions or intentions for 2019, a refusal to make resolutions, or an acknowledgement that we’re probably okay just as we are. It seems everyone has a New Year’s Opinion!
I guess I am no different. Though I’m not one for telling people what I think they should do (you do you hun!), I would like to share my own thoughts about the start of 2019. I’m not really a ‘New Year new you’ type of girl but it is a natural marker in our calendar to have a look at where we’re at.
Looking back at your highlhlights of your past year is a great way to take a moment to see what you’ve achieved. It’s so easy to just keep going and not stop to take a moment to smell the roses, pat yourself on the back or have a word!
The thing about highlights reels though, is that mostly they are only interesting for those who play a part in them. I don’t know about you, but sometimes seeing other people’s success without the context of their struggles can make me play the comparison game (that one never ends well). In the efforts of staying positive I’ll limit my thoughts on the new year’s social media bragging posts (we all know that person!) with a question “Who are you trying to impress?”
As much as I am supportive of celebrating anyone’s victories, I’m far more interested in understanding what we learned along the way and acknowledging how much blood sweat and tears went into making that shit happen!
Meeting goals is really important from a strategic point of view, especially if you’re running a business. However, a comment I saw in a recent Instagram story (I knew that was time well spent!) made me think about it a very different way.
It was Laura Jane Williams (@superlatively LJ) who talked about setting goals for how you want to feel, rather than what you want to achieve.
This idea has been hanging around in my brain this past week and I want to dig a little deeper into it.
Surely saying I will be happy when xyz or I will be successful when abc goals are met leads to a place of wishing time away and setting ourselves up for failure? What if xyz never happens? Will you never be happy?
Things themselves to not make us happy. How we feel about those things is what matters. So starting by working out how we want to feel surely makes more sense than trying to choose an object or a material measure of success?
So why not make the feelings the goals? The steps on how to get there will flow from them, not the other way round. This leaves so much more room to be flexible.
I have been looking through my goals list for last year. I split it into business goals, personal development and things I wanted to learn or try. All in all I did a reasonable job at hitting my targets… though some went totally by the wayside and other achievements were not even considered in my original list. I’m okay with that. That’s just how life goes.
But when looking at the list I now think about why those goals made the list. What did I think achieving that goal would bring me?
The first one was to make a sustainable living from my crochet business. I’m not going to lie, that didn’t happen. I mean it’s a slowly slowly catchy monkey thing and I believe I can get there, it will just take more than 12 months. But the reason I wanted to do that? Because I want to live a life doing what I love, feeling creative and challenged and being in charge of my destiny. That was what that goal was really about.
There are lots of other more specific goals,like getting designs published in a print magazine (I didn’t hit 2018 but look out for the March Issue of Inside Crochet!). This one was a bit of a milestone goal, like selling my first pattern – I still remember the mix of excitement and terror (but what if it’s shit?) when I made that first ever sale!
But what would getting published achieve? A sense of pride? Of feeling like NOW I am a real designer? How does that one feed into how I want to feel? Confidence maybe? A way to beat imposter syndrome? I’m not sure. Perhaps that one was about satisfying my ego.
Interestingly there are a few references in my goals to building networks. Well that feeds right into my desire to have a sense of belonging. When you leave an office environment (as I did in 2017) where the social network is provided for you, it takes a lot of work to build a new one in your chosen field. A sense of belonging is a pretty important need to fulfil (just ask Maslow) so even though this was probably subconscious, I’m glad I wrote that one down.
I will continue working on this in 2019 but realising that I could put myself out there and make that happen felt good. I met some amazing creatives, mentors and friends last year. Those wonderful people who have supported me daily or from afar would definitely make my highlight reel!
Interestingly, the goals I made less progress on are the ones which were more purely financially driven. Whilst this is impractical in terms of keeping food on my table, it makes perfect sense when framing goals as steps to feel something desirable.
To me at least, making money for money’s sake is kind of boring. Feeling financially secure is really important but it’s a satisfier (as in we don’t notice it when it’s there but we sure as shit notice when it’s absent). Making the numbers work is essential yes, but it is not something that motivates me beyond, food, water, shelter. I recognise that money is an important motivator for many because of the security and freedom that it brings. If it’s status symbols you’re after though I would love to understand what feelings you associate with that. I worry for folk who link their self esteem to closely to their bank balance!
There is a train of thought that says if you work hard at doing what you love then the money will follow. I am an advocate for this philosophy but think it rarely manifests in ways you expect. There is a lot of work and trying different avenues involved. You may have to take a step backwards or sideways to achieve it and might end up in a place you never foresaw. But I believe that if you keep trying, learning, adapting and staying open to changing attitudes and opportunities then it is achievable.
Where there’s will there’s a way and all that!
So this year as I sit down with a blank sheet of paper before me, trying to work out what I want to achieve, I’m going to start with how I want to feel and work back to what I need to do to get there.
I’ve decided to limit it to 5 very top level things (because otherwise it kind of loses focus). In no particular order, this is how I want to feel in 2019.
- Part of some bigger community
- At ease with myself and free from “I should”
- Confident in my gut instinct
Joy just missed the cut. It was a close one but I left it off because i spent a lot of 2018 making finding joy a habit. One which I hope I will continue through this year without too much extra effort needed!
This list isn’t a start from scratch thing. I already do a lot to find ways of feeling these emotions. And this list don’t come at the expense of other areas, they are just where I want to place my focus at this point in time. Today is about is working out what I need to carry on doing, what I need to stop and what I need to start to make sure that this time next year I can say “yeah… that was me in 2019”.
You might wonder why I left happy off this list. Mainly because it’s a bit too vague. I don’t think happy can be one single thing, I think it’s an umbrella word summarising the cumulation of thoughts and feelings and experiences. And those things in my list. They are all part of what consitiutes my happy. What makes up yours?
I’ll leave you with that question as I head off to scribble down ideas in notebooks.
Just before I go, I would like to wish you a HAPPY new year and a big thank you to anyone that has read or commented or encouraged me in my little life lesson challenge over 2018. Only 7 weeks left until I hit my other New Year!