Looking ahead | Goal setting and personal development

Usually I’d get onto this whole goal setting and personal development year-in-review exercise much earlier, but the last part of 2015 has been fraught with distraction and even a little bit of devastation.

It’s New Year’s Eve, however, and so this morning I pulled from my bag a printed, crumpled sheet that I’ve been carrying around for a few weeks – Suzy Greaves’ annual review questions. Suzy is a life coach and editor of one of my very favourite magazines, Psychologies UK, and she’s full of wisdom. Join her mailing list for more at suzygreaves.com.

Rather than emphasising that we choose one big goal and set to work on ‘achieving it’, Suzy reminds me that reflection on what’s gone by, and intentions for the new year are much more important than setting major milestones that we may or may not reach (that’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for our best). I do think this is a healthier exercise, and it’s one that can be done at any time of the year, not just December/January.

On my personal reflection I realised that although this past year has had some major challenges, it’s come with lots of laughs too. Both Cooper and I had the absolute pleasure of spending time with our parents who visited the UK all the way from Australia – that’s very special, and we enjoyed many times where we laughed uncontrollably over shared stories, jokes and London survival strategies (stay to the right on the escalator!!).

And on the family front, we’ve got an aunty, uncle and cousin in Queensland who we offer eternal gratitude to, for loving and caring for our dog (and fur baby) in his golden years. While the end to that story is too difficult to write about still, I’ve been shown tremendous examples of kindness that the only way to repay is to pay forward, and I will.

We’ve got gorgeous family of all generations; true friends where distance and time do not matter; and an abundance of good things in all directions. Gratitude gratitude gratitude. If you care to consider it…

I had a good think about situations that got me down at work and in life, but then realised some proud moments where I made a move to change these for the better. Through my own practices of goal setting and personal development, I know now that I’m happiest and at my best when I can bring light to those who need it most; when I can be creative and travel and inspire the one person who really wants and needs to hear what I have to say at any given point in time. I’m proud that I have encouraged people to get out of their comfort zones and travel. Some have, or are on the way for a visit soon!

The TBEX gathering was a highlight, not only for its ongoing creative, entrepreneurial and fun energy, but because I reconnected with a person I’d previously worked with who will be a life-long friend now. Plus, there’s always Spain – the backdrop of our favourite conference this year. Yep, I could live there one day.

Back to reflection though, an important aspect of my year has been attending other goal setting and personal development workshops and seminars, like Hayhouse’s I Can Do It, as well as Rebecca Campbell and Robyn Silverton’s wonderful Spirited Urban Retreat. I strongly recommend you take advantage of any type of workshop or conference you can get your hands on in 2016 because aside from any helpful, practical tools you can take away from the sessions at such events, it’s the positive energy you’re immersed in that really makes the difference. Spending dedicated time with like-minded people who want to implement positive change (despite wide and varied obstacles) does make a significant impact, and truly worked for me this year. My advice is don’t underestimate it – go with an open mind, ready heart and choose to let a day like this make a difference. I can’t wait to attend Gabrielle Bernstein‘s upcoming workshop in London!

While I’m reasonably good at identifying larger situations in career or life that I need to make changes on, I’m not so good at managing the smaller aspects that can get me down – that is, I consistently fret about not having enough time – for work, friends, phone calls home, blogging, upkeep of this site, social media, networking, travel, downtime… the list goes on. But, my reflection this morning has reminded me that I know that when I intend for there to be time, there is. Daily meditation and being consistent at taking twenty minutes a day to write, going to the gym with Cooper; and weekly yoga and creative outlets are my lifestyle aims for the coming year.

Suzy asks, ‘what is the moral of your story in 2015?’ I think one for me is that just when I think I’ve got it all in hand, something shows up to challenge my understanding and comfortable space. I realise now that life isn’t about getting to a particular point (financial, career, family or otherwise); it’s about the journey, lessons learned, adapting and thriving. I think in the end, it’s about an unapologetic pursuit of happiness and freedom to be yourself (that will obviously mean different things for different people).

One thing I know for sure is that this past year I’ve helped people, and I like it! It might only have been a handful of souls, and in the only ways I know (chatting, writing), but I’ve made a difference, just like others have done for me. One small step at a time – but this year I learned that sending that energy into the world is a far stronger force than pushing out fear (or upset, worry, obsession over all the bad things that are going on). I believe this. I liken it to the adorable film Monsters, Inc when they realised that rather than scaring kids and gathering energy from fear, they did far better by generating the vast reservoir of energy garnered from happiness, laughter and love.

I think if I can look back on the moments of a year or period in time and recognise how I was challenged, how I dealt with it, what I learned and what I could have done differently (or will do in the future), then that’s an achievement for me. That’s success, and living. What do you think?

Goal setting and personal development – in a word

My mate, Madonna Williams, shared a wonderful post this morning, encouraging her friends and yoga clients to consider the one word that they might use to describe the year gone by, and the one they will use for the year ahead.

I’ve chosen ‘allowance‘ for the past year because it represents what I kept coming back to during scary, difficult, upsetting and even exciting times brimming with opportunity. Letting go and allowing – a very big thing for me. Next year I’ll go with ‘abundance‘, because I want to attract more creative endeavours, travel, adventure and even a few more dollars into my world. And dogs, lots and lots of dogs.

What are your descriptive words, or your stories from the year gone by? Drop me a line in the comments.

And if you would like to take a look at Suzy Greaves’ questions, she’s kindly linked them here.

About the author: Sarah Blinco

Writer, editor and digital content manager – find me on social media @sarahblinco PS - if you found this piece helpful, I would be really grateful if you could take a moment to leave a comment below.

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