‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.’
January is a great time to focus on what you want for the year ahead. I’m not talking about New Years’ resolutions. Instead of focusing on what you want to give up, direct all of your energy towards what you want to attract and achieve.
I’ve found from experience that while not everything I wish for happens, it certainly is true that if I don’t set my intention on something it’s very unlikely to happen. If I set my intention, say, on traveling to New Zealand for three weeks in 2019, there’s a good chance that with careful planning I may go. I may not manage it, but I probably will.
However, if I don’t set my intention on traveling to New Zealand, how likely do you think it is that I will go?
I always start the year by making 5 separate wish lists for the year ahead, and I encourage my clients to do the same. I’ve been seeing amazing results.
Each wish list covers a different area of life.
- Career and Finances,
- Health and Personal Growth,
- Family and Friends,
- Romance and Home,
- Travel, Adventure and Fun
Get yourself into the zone of thinking and feeling about whatever area you’re inclined to target first. Let’s say it’s Career and Finances. Imagine what it will feel like, a year from now, when you’re looking back at the success you’ve had in this area. What milestones, achievements and events would make you feel, a year from now, that you’d enjoyed real, staggering success in the area of Career and Finances? Now write down a list of specific measurable targets. To help you, one of my clients, James, has allowed me to print off his list, which he read to me in his last session of 2018.
Career and Finances
- Increase my income by 30% for the year
- Put $50k aside by end of year towards purchase of holiday home
- Convince board to invest $2m in new incubator by August
- Hire PR and get at least two feature articles written about current business in Wired or FT or WSJ
- Recruit one of the four people (listed) to start as COO by June
- Reduce time in office to 3 days a week by Feb
- Take one week day off every two weeks
- Travel to SF no more than four times
- Set daily reminder that work is a game I’m choosing to play
- Chanel my inner Jeff Bezos (note: this is a personal reference to one of the “team members” that make up my client, James’s crew)
You’ll see that most of James’s bullets are specific and measurable. He’s even put the month in 2019 by when he wants to have achieved them. At the end of the year, James and I will be able to see whether he has achieved his big, scary ambitions. Other bullets, such as how much time he’ll spend in the office or whether he’s remembering that ‘work is a game’ are a bit softer, but we can check on these too: Did he set the daily reminder? Did he channel his inner Jeff Bezos? What did that feel like? How did it help him?
Now, take on a new area. Let’s say it’s Travel, Adventure and Fun. What would having great fun in 2019 look like to you? If you imagine looking back at the year, 12 months from now, having had a year of adventures, what adventures will you have had? What trips will you have taken?
Go ahead and list them out. My client, Naoimi, has allowed me to print off hers. Yours will be very different, but the key thing is for you to be a little terrified by the ambition of your lists. If you’re thinking, ‘Oh, that’ll be easy,’ you haven’t been ambitious enough. At the other extreme, if you’re thinking ‘Help! I’m NEVER going to achieve any of that,’ then the wish list you’ve made isn’t right for you either. Everything you write down has to come from a place of pleasure, desire, and pride for you.
Travel, Adventure and Fun
- Plan two-week hike for August along Hadrian’s Wall with S.
- Block off six long weekends to explore cities I’ve never been before such as Lisbon, Porto, Madrid, Barcelona, Pisa and Manchester.
- Take up kick boxing: Enroll in Suzie’s class in Walthamstow on Tuesday’s
- Learn how to make (well) 8 new recipes from Ottolenghi’s new cookbook, Simple
- Invite 4 people who I haven’t met yet (Dec 2018) to dinner at my apartment by July
- Plan one week away in Scotland with my best girl-friends next December and get everyone to pay 1/4
Some of what’s on Naiomi’s list might be a walk in the park for you and you might not even think it sounds that much fun, but the point is that for her, every bullet seems a little beyond what she feels she can hope to achieve right now. That’s what each of your 5 lists needs to seem to you: Specific, measurable and a real stretch.
It’s really important that you make a list of goals, achievements and milestones that define what a successful 2019 would look like for you in each of the 5 areas.
Don’t hedge your bets by being vague. If, for instance, you’re looking to meet a new romantic partner, don’t write, “Meet a man.” Write something like “Meet Mediterranean looking man, who speaks German, is no less than 5’11”, loves the outdoors and wants children.”
When you’re done, read all 5 of your lists aloud to a good friend and to your partner if you have one. Don’t skip this part, it’s important.
Now, file away the lists under “2019 Wish Lists” or if you’ve written them by hand, put them away in a drawer, where you can find them later.
In one year from now, I want you to go look at your lists again and see how much of what you listed here you (and the universe) have actually brought into being.
There are two important aspects to this exercise.
- If you don’t dream it and declare it as what you want, it has very little chance of happening.
- If you don’t achieve everything you dreamed up, that’s not failure, but by defining (in advance) what success would look like to you, you’ll avoid the trap we all sometimes fall into of defining our personal success by other people’s standards. These lists are a reminder of what success is to you – on your terms.
It’s so easy to say: ‘I’m such a failure. James made 30% more this year than he did last year and Naiomi went to six new cities, and I didn’t earn more or go anywhere. However, if earning 30% more or traveling to new cities were not on your lists, then that’s not what success looks like to you.
At the end of this year, if you’ve achieved some of what’s on your amazing lists -and I guarantee that you will- then you’ll have had what you dreamed of as a successful year. And what could be better than that?
Remy Blumenfeld is a creative life coach living in London. He empowers leaders to play the game of life with purpose, grace and ease. Before training as coach, he launched a TV Production company which created dozens of ground breaking, TV shows.