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Published January 01, 2014, 04:39 PM

Positively Beautiful: Looking back, moving forward

I’ve told my son, Grant, that I have eyes in the back of my head so I can keep track of him. He had thoroughly inspected my scalp, but I’ve told him that these are invisible, but they are still there because I’m a mom.

By: Dr. Susan Mathison, INFORUM

I’ve told my son, Grant, that I have eyes in the back of my head so I can keep track of him. He had thoroughly inspected my scalp, but I’ve told him that these are invisible, but they are still there because I’m a mom.

As we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome 2014, eyes in the back of our heads might be useful! Wouldn’t it be great to have an even better 360-degree view?

The business world has a formalized process for getting this kind of feedback from colleagues. Consider creating your own way of looking back, moving forward and having perspective of your surrounding impact. Taking time for reflection helps you set better intentions, goals and maybe even a few resolutions.

Author Chris Guillebeau takes time each December to do his Year in Review. He asks himself two simple questions: What went well this year? What didn’t go so well this year? Some people add “aha” moments and a gratitude list to this exercise.

Guillebeau writes six to eight answers for each question. He uses these to help him write his goals for the upcoming year in these categories: Writing, Business, Friends & Family, Service, Travel, Spiritual, Health, Learning, Financial (Earning), Financial (Giving), Financial (Saving.) He suggests that even if you are a go-with-the-flow type, coming up with goals that direct your life plan will change your life. He even has a spreadsheet you can download and use as a template.

Business consultant and blogger Chris Brogan uses a practice to create three guiding words and to use these as representations of three major focuses for the coming year. The concept is this: think of three words that sum up what you want to change or work toward in the coming year.

He suggests, “Instead of a goal like ‘lose weight’ or a better goal like ‘lose 30 pounds in the next year,’ you might choose a word like ‘green’ to represent an overall commitment to having more plant-based foods in your life, and to restore your body to a more natural state. See the difference?”

Measurable milestones and action plans make up his goals. His three words are symbols that give him easy mental access to his bigger life beliefs and give a framework to his goals. In 2006, he chose Ask. Do. Share. In 2008 they were Believe. Loops. Farm; and 2011 was the year to Reinvest. Package. Flow.

Some people go even simpler and choose a theme for the year. Authors Dan Britton, Jimmy Page and Jon Gordon wrote “One Word That Will Change Your Life,” and feel that the simplicity of choosing one word makes it a catalyst for life-change. Clutter and complexity lead to procrastination and paralysis, while simplicity and focus lead to success and clarity.

The book shows you how to cut through to the core of your intention for the next year. It explains how your one word will impact the six dimensions of your life – mental, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual and financial. My word for 2014 is Joy. I want more of it in my life.

Others create vision boards to set goals and future plans. Coach Deb Lange expanded on this concept and developed a process called “Embody Your Future,” based on the work of Dr. Jean Houston. It uses all of your senses – hearing, taste, touch, smell and vision – in creating your goals for the new year. She suggests that you activate each sense individually, then tie it in with what you want to accomplish.

For example, imagine hearing rain drops on the roof, then a beautiful symphony. Next, think of something wonderful you’ll hear about your project. How about imagining a spoonful of ice cream melting in your mouth, or a bite of hot buttered toast? Then think about a celebration meal you’ll enjoy when your goal is achieved.

Houston suggests that what you have just done is engage the sensory pattern of the mind, as well as energizing the hormones in your body to feel and sense the energy you need to stick to the project you were thinking about. It activates the mind-body system to higher creativity, purpose and destiny.

One of my favorite authors, Danielle LaPorte, suggests that tapping in to your core desired feelings gives you “goals with soul.” In her book “The Desire Map,” she suggests that knowing how you want to feel is the most potent clarity you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerful thing you can do with your life. A goal of losing weight becomes “I want to feel good in my body, and move with grace and energy.” A goal of earning more money becomes “I want to feel secure, abundant and generous.” We make our daily decisions based on how we aspire to feel.

Most of us spend more time planning a week of vacation than we do the year ahead. Maybe one or more of these reflection and planning ideas will resonate you. What will you focus on in 2014?

Dr. Susan Mathison founded Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo and created PositivelyBeautiful.com. Email her at shesays@forumcomm.com.

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