Resolutions, Dreams, and Goals: Designing A Life You Love

Courtesy of iStock/abu

Courtesy of iStock/abu

She designed a life she loved.

I don’t know where this quote originated, but I found it on Pinterest and pinned it to my quotes board. Something about those words and the way they were arranged spoke to me. Those words said whatever you want, whatever makes you happy, is within your reach.

You may be setting out to create a new design for your life today. You may be dreaming and planning for a new year full of possibilities that will help you obtain a life you love.

You won’t be alone.

Every year, millions of Americans claim the New Year as the arbitrary starting point of a journey, built around a set of intentions that will help them achieve some level of self-improvement.

Unfortunately, usually sometime before February, half of those people find their intentions too difficult to make real, so they postpone or even give up on their dreams.

I have found myself on both sides of this story—dreaming and planning, and postponing—on more than one occasion. So while I have set a few repeat goals this year, I will not label them as New Year’s resolutions that start January 1st and have to be completed by December 31st. No, I’m choosing to look at these repeating goals differently because for whatever reason, when I categorize my goals as New Year’s resolutions, doubts and the aim for perfection get in my way. And, when I join the resolutions craze, my old notions and old ways of doing things also get in my way.

One of my repeating goals is the quest to complete my novel. My novel, my writing, has become a personal passion, so I consider it a goal worth reaching. That means I have to commit to the process over and over again.

The process is work—hard work that requires me to change my familiar patterns and routines. Hard work that means I must confront my doubts and perfectionist tendencies. Hard work that means I have to look at the way I handle life and possibly alter my techniques to bring my design into reality.

I think these are the reasons you and I, and millions of other Americans, give up on our dreams and resolutions a few weeks into the New Year. Not because we are lazy, but because our bodies and our minds resist the change it takes to grow into our new design. At some point, we actively decide we will put off the work until a time when it is more convenient or easy to change. That’s when 2018’s goals become 2019’s, and 2020’s, and …

Here’s the thing: I have consistently pursued my writing dreams year after year. I didn’t give up by February, but I still haven’t achieved the outcome I am aiming for—a published novel—and I think I know why.

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

I have a love-hate relationship with this statement, and truthfully, this statement is why I resist the New Year’s resolution label. I am a dreamer and I still believe the dream life can be obtained, but this statement, like the word resolution, forces the dream to be broken into chunks and placed on a timeline. A process that is not as fun as dreaming!

The hard truth is that our designs must include a carefully thought-out process—a plan—with a deadline, or our designs become nothing but unfulfilled dreams.

The design I have chosen is complex. When I look at a completed novel, I now see the detailed and mind-boggling process of brainstorming, writing, editing, more brainstorming, more editing, publishing, and marketing.

I have been chasing a complex dream with the hope of completing all of its components in one. single. year. No wonder I haven’t achieved my goal! And no wonder I have resisted the resolution label—I don’t like the feeling of defeat (failure), especially when it is tied to my dream.

Maybe, as you look over your design, you also realize your goals and resolutions need to be broken into smaller, more obtainable chunks. It is important that we set ourselves up for success by creating achievable goals, because each small success encourages us to take the next step toward our dream.

I have altered my writing plan this year, taking into account things I have learned over the previous years. I have broken my goal down into chunks and created a deadline for each one. A new group of accountability partners are in place and ready to cheer me on. And, with the gift of a new year, I have a refreshed hope of achieving the goals and chunks of goals (both writing and non-writing) that are important to me.

If your dream is important, then you have to commit to the process.

And, again, the process is the work.

The work? Well, that is where and how the masterpiece is created—chunk by chunk.

So, how about showing up, dreaming some wild and crazy dream about a life you would love, carefully designing that life, and then committing to chasing that life one deadline at a time?

I will be right here, ready to cheer you on.

Whatever your goals, whatever the things you dream to accomplish or strive to become, I hope 2018 is the year that your design takes you closer to a life you love!