Resolutions, I am not in favor of as a way to start the year. Truthfully I’m tired of them. Resolutions are declarations of desired end goals worded in a superficial way, “learn to make sausage”, “lose 15 pounds”, “get a new job”.
I like questions that get at the qualities I want to experience, because qualities speak to the beneath the surface this-is-so-important-to-me-its-hard-to-put-into-words-desires that motivate my projects for the year. Qualities are the answers the questions: “What would learning to make sausage do for you?” “What is ultimately desirable about losing 15 pounds?” “What would it mean to you to get a new job?” Without those answers it’s all too easy to fail.
Qualities reflect the value, the essential worth of what you want to experience and feel. The kind of thinking that uncovers qualities doesn’t happen with your logical mind in high gear. It draws on all your senses. A few years ago one of my mentors, Isabel Parlett, introduced me to an excellent and reveling exercise to do this and I’d like to share it with you.
Get out a piece of paper and something to write with. Do this exercise by hand.
Don’t Just Use Your Head
Now, don’t think too much, jot down what first comes to mind for each of these questions:
If 2014 were a flavor what would it be?
If 2014 were a color what would it be?
If 2014 were a scent/smell what would it be?
If 2014 were a place/location what would it be?
If 2014 were a texture what would it be?
If 2014 were a sound/piece of music what would it be?
Here are a few examples:
- Flavor: Dry rose wine
- Color: Emerald green
- Sound: Jazz from the 1920’s
- Place: A rocky beach
Uncover Essential Qualities
Take 5 minutes to write down the qualities that come to mind for each of your answers to the questions above.
- Flavor: Dry rose wine- fresh, crisp, quenching, friendly, easy
- Color: Emerald green – rich, timeless, verdant, elegant, alive
- Sound: Jazz from the 19202 – zippy, exuberant, fresh, joyful
- Place: A rocky beach – bracing, soothing, everlasting, comforting, familiar
Cluster Your Qualities
Next take a review your lists of qualities. Do you see some clusters emerging? Make note of these.
Tap into Your Natural Tendencies
Bringing more of these qualities is a challenge that will take time, and you’ll have to think or act in new ways. To bring some ease into that process draw on your natural tendencies.
How could you tap into your nature tendencies to bring more of these qualities into your life?
Jot down all the ways you could do this. If your ideas are a little unpolished that’s normal, just capture these until you feel you have a full list.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Expand my professional network and connect with new organizations that will bring some fresh/bracing/verdant experiences by tapping into my curiosity.
- Use my good judgment to develop streamlined systems in my office, so that is a friendly/comforting environment.
Pick Your Projects for the Year
Once you have you complete list select 3-5 ways to focus on as your projects for the year. Pick the ones that are most exciting (or unsettling) to you. Those are juiciest ones.
I hope you’ll try this approach. It’s lead many fruitful outcomes for me over the past few years. Like some guest blogging this month and next (more on that later). Plus when things got boring or hard I could easily recall what this is so important to me and persevere.
And if you do try it, let me know what you discover, just post your insights in the comments below.