Experience Life Magazine

Setting a Course

This time of year, a lot of us start thinking about the big changes we want to make in our lives over the course of the next 12 months.

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This time of year, a lot of us start thinking about the big changes we want to make in our lives over the course of the next 12 months. It’s a natural time to reflect on the things we’ve been frustrated by, the things we’d like to do better, or do more of, or do differently.

That’s all good. The trouble is, this sort of contemplative process takes real time and focus. And instead, like most things that fall into our schedules during this busy time of year, it too often ends up being done in a rushed frenzy, if at all.

After spending about 10 minutes pondering what’s “wrong” with our lives (or maybe, if we’re feeling really ambitious, what our ideal fantasy life might look like) we dash off a hasty list of resolutions that reads more like a series of barked orders: “Get in shape! Spend more time with family! Finish kitchen remodel!”

This rarely works. For one thing, this drive-thru approach to ordering up change doesn’t give us an opportunity to consider what we’re really hungry for, and why. It doesn’t give us a chance to consider why we’ve been doing things the way we have, and what the unconscious payoffs for those behaviors might be. More important, it doesn’t give our bodies, hearts and minds an opportunity to get on the same page with our souls and decide how they are going to work together to bring about integrated, values-based change (which is generally the only kind that sticks).

I have learned all this the hard way, from personal experience. I am an action-and-results-oriented guy. And it seems like I always have a dozen major projects that demand all my attention, right here and now. I’m also not known for being patient. But this year, I made arrangements to do my New Year planning a little differently. I headed out of town and into nature for a couple of days. With no cell phone, no interruptions and a more relaxed, peaceful setting, it was much easier to get a higher-altitude perspective on my life.

I spent the first day reflecting on last year’s most notable successes and failures, contemplating relationships, work, health, community – pretty much every aspect of my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual life. I spent the second day doing analysis, prioritization and planning. And I documented the whole thing – observations, objectives and tactics – so that quarterly, when I do my mini-review check-ins, I can see where I need to make course corrections. And so that next year, when I do the same exercise, I can see where I made significant progress and where my intended changes got derailed.

I have no illusions that it’s easy to schedule this kind of time. But I know it’s worth it, and the right thing to do. And with this “Life Launch” issue of Experience Life in hand, you’ve got some great tools (including the Resolution Workshop, page 40) at your disposal.

So my suggestion to you is this: Rather than sitting down and spending an hour working on your long list of things to do, start by spending an hour sitting with your calendar and making arrangements to give yourself at least one full day (or several partial days over the course of the next few weeks) that you can fully dedicate to developing your own Life Launch plan. Then, once you’ve made that time happen, write us and tell us how it went!

You can look forward to lots of inspiration and support in the pages of Experience Life this year. But only you can make the choices and energetic investments that set you on the right trajectory.

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