I don’t set new years resolutions. I don’t believe in them. If you want to start something, start it now, not on Jan 1. I have a goal diary for the first time in my life. I have turned into that person.
I wasn’t sure where to start with this post, so let’s start at the first thing that comes to mind, when I think of this particular subject.
Lists. I love them. I love them so much I could cry. Throw in a highlighter, those extraordinary pens from Muji (they legitimately make you more intelligent and interesting) and some sticky notes, and I won’t know what to do with myself. I write lists for everything, because as you would know at this point, my brain does not like operating in a logical, step-by-step manner. No, no, no. My brain’s first method of reacting to any given situation is to splurt out all the thoughts and emotions. “The more irrational, the more fun!”, squeals Brain. And I’m left sitting there with one of those rubber band stress ball things beating around inside my skull. So ever since I can remember, I write lists, because they calm me down.
Before we left Melbourne, I started panicking about what this big move would entail, specifically in terms of what I wanted to achieve this year. So Ed bought me a goal book. The conversation went something like this:
E:(Hands goal diary to me) You need this.
Z: Lololol you’re funny.
E: Zahara. What happens when you think you have wasted a Sunday doing nothing?
Z: Bad things
E: So what happens if you think you have wasted an entire year, because you didn’t actively plan?
Z: *Silently takes diary*
See, the hardest part for me is that I almost always don’t know where to start tackling a problem. I get stressed, brain does its aforementioned dance, and then I procrastinate and become more stressed and scared, followed by more brain dancing, and you get the idea. Ed pointed out that I needed to break that cycle quick smart, and sort out exactly what I wanted to get out of this trip. What needed to happen for me to feel like this had all been worth it? What outcomes did I require?
So I sat down and worked out what I wanted from France. And I used that stupid blue goal diary. And Holy King of Lists, it’s been working. This seemingly innocent looking book helps you tackle a huge topic, one sensibly sized bite at a time.
Diary started by demanding answers to questions like what my general values in life are, and how I measure success. Then it got a bit more serious, and asked what I’d like to be doing, ideally, in 3 years. And we’re not talking broad, vague questions related solely to a career path. These were super specific and varied factors, like relationships with loved ones, time spent on community involvement, hobbies, what your average day looks like, how do you see yourself, how do others see you and it went on. Then it focused on what changes I need to make to reach those points that I had just spent time describing. Questions like who do I need to reach out to, what resources are required, what is the biggest and smallest change that needs to happen.
There’s even a section (2 pages, mind you) titled ‘Things I’m not going to do’. The purpose of this bit is to reduce the chance of making decisions that will hurt your chances of reaching your goals.
Sheesh, so personal.
And then it got to the main bit; set 4 very specific goals for each month, that will directly help you achieve whatever your bigger, umbrella goals are. Before I started on the diary, this was the part I was looking forward to the least, because this seems like a lot, especially when there is no clear direction to begin with. Except that now, it didn’t seem so scary now that I had broken up the big questions into manageable sections.
I thought this was going to be a quick list. No, this was the Mother of all lists. And as much as I was eye rolling at each question, I did answer them honestly and thoughtfully. The worst outcome is that I spent some time writing things down that I might not look at again. The best outcome is that I have a little life coach that I can refer to whenever I want to. For someone who needs to keep track of where they are going and what they have been doing, this is an excellent tool. Indeed, as my friend Benjamin Franklin once said to me, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. At the end of the day, it’s all about the Benjamins, baby.
At this point I would like to point out that I absolutely realise that this method wouldn’t appeal to the entire human population. Not everyone needs this level of structure and micromanagement, obviously. And I know there are some people reading this, and rolling their own eyes. I totally get it! For me however, ‘all hail structure’ is my motto, so whatever works, I guess. While I haven’t quite yet turned into someone who sits in a café for 7 hours just with one cup of tumeric latte, wearing active wear, writing down my aspirations and dreams, while my Lululemon yoga mat lies in obvious view for others to see, I have to admit, this whole goal book thing might not be such a bad idea.
One last thing. bossy Goal Diary Life Coach told me that I should share my goals so that I can be held accountable to them. I won’t share the mini month-by-month goals, mostly because past this month, they don’t exist as yet. But here are my big ones that I will share with you:
I will get a job as a pastry chef in Paris in 2017
I will improve my French, to the point of being fluent by the end of 2017
Calm down, for the love of all that is holy
Read more; in both English and French
And that’s that.