Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking ahead at 2011: The year of ACTION

I did a lot of reflecting in 2010, a lot of planning, reading, realizing, visioning and that's what made it the year of discovery for me. Looking ahead at 2011, I want to take all that discovery and turn in into action.

As the second part of my annual review, I set out some goals which will help define where I'm headed in the next 365 days. The trick to setting goals is to be very specific. None of this "I'm going to start exercising more" wishy-washy stuff. If your goal is to exercise "more" be specific about it. If you want to make "more" money, get specific about how much money you want to be earning next year.

I will get 30min of exercise 4 times a week. 
I will earn $xxx in 2011

That's just the first step. Then you have to identify at least one action you can do right now to take a step towards your goal. It might look like this:

I will look online for my local running groups schedule and find out when the next session is. 
I will gather my facts and prepare for a meeting with my boss to discuss a pay raise. 
I will create a plan for my small business that will earn $xxx a month to supplement my income.

The final step is to set a deadline. Do this so that you can check in on your progress on a monthly or quarterly basis depending on how quickly you want to achieve this goal. Be realistic. If your goal is to loose 20 lbs, don't set your deadline for Feb 1. You likely will not meet that target (it wouldn't be healthy to) and you will get frustrated and feel unsuccessful. Same thing with any goal. If you want to save for a downpayment on a home, set your target at something your budget will allow. Check in every quarter and see your progress all the way through the year.

I will loose 3lbs a month and keep it off. - Deadline: July 1/11
I will put $250 a month into my "home fund" - Deadline: April 15, August 15, December 15/11
I will create a career path with my boss that will include increased pay and have me reach my income targets by November 1/11 

If you're new to goal setting it can be an uncomfortable process to go through. It seems that whatever your new goal is, immediately there are obstacles that stop you. You don't have gym clothes, or running shoes. You can't afford a gym membership. Your boss is a big jerk. You have no extra money to put away to save etc. etc. etc.

You tell me your goal, and I will find 10 reasons why you CAN'T do it. That's the easy part. There are a hundred reasons why you can't, shouldn't, or why you should just do it later. Your job is to find how you CAN do it and how you can start today.  The brickwalls (obstacles) remind me of a Randy Pausch quote:

"Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out, they are there to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people"

I mentioned in my Annual Review post that this year I've taken my goal setting to a whole new level. This year, I've created categories to help become very specific about each one. If you want to get serious about your goals this year too, I suggest breaking them down in a similar fashion. You can use the same categories I did, or create your own.

I've looked at a few different possible directions for my career path over the last nine months. I've painted the perfect picture of my ideal work day and gotten specific about what I want and don't want my days to include. I've discovered that I don't want a "job". I don't like the idea of going to and from a cubical everyday and working inside a forever churning machine where the work has no end and where the only reward I get is my paycheque, two weeks of vacation and a benefits package. Some may think that security sounds appealing, but it makes me quiver. What I want is work. A project. I want something I can watch come together, something that is created out of my efforts, dedication and long hours. I want something that once it's built, I can be proud of it.

I gave great consideration to self-employment this year as well. I thought about seizing the opportunity of unemployment to start taking writing seriously. Start thinking about writing my book or putting in the effort into making my small business grow into something sustainable that I might be able to live off. While all of that came with many pros and cons, I weighed my fears against my goals and I've decided two things; one, I'm not quiet ready for that type of commitment to independence, and two, to achieve some of my other goals (home ownership and travel) I will need a regular income that I can rely on. And so, I came to my first goal of 2011.

In 2011 I will find meaningful and rewarding work that I enjoy, challenges me and provides me with new opportunity while helping me achieve my goals. 

Friends and Family
This year was particularly difficult in this category and I relied heavily on my friends and family many times throughout the year. I was surprised (although I don't know why) at how my family united and came together so closely during such hard times. They were incredible. I realized how much love surrounds me and how lucky I am to have such great examples of what family really means. 

I consider my closest friends family as well. Since my Dad, sisters, aunts and uncles live so far away, it's my friends that I have close to me during holidays, special occasions and they are who I turn to when days are tough and I need someone to talk to. They mean the world to me and I am so grateful for them.

In 2011 I will be a better friend and be closer to my family. I will call often, I will not wait until I need something, I will not miss birthdays or special occasions (I'll at least send a card). I will tell them I love them and how much I appreciate them. I will remember to put them first, because I know, that they were there when I needed them and they always will be. 

I have ongoing issues with my back. Issues that take me out of the game and immobilize me until I rest enough to get back on my feet. Every time this happens (which used to be few and far between but happened twice this year), I'm like a teenager who's just removed the entire contents of her stomach praying to the porcelain God and mumbling "I will..never.. drink.. again..".

I lay on the couch, or on the hardwood floor, or bent over the kitchen counter in mind numbing, eyeball twitching pain and swear to whatever God will listen "If you make this pain go away, I will go to yoga everyday. I will see whatever therapist you want. I will make that appointment with the specialist. I will learn to walk on my hands if that's what it takes... anything... PLEASE!"

And in a week or so, the pain subsides so I can walk and I do a few stretches and take it easy for a few days. Then when all is well, I completely forget about the pleas and promises I made just a few days earlier. And so, I have chronic back pain. Everyday. And I do nothing about it. I live with it. I walk around like an 80 year old woman who can't stand up straight, pick up anything heavy or do any kind of impact activity like tobogganing or tubing (on snow or water). I can't risk falling or taking any kind of jolt where my spine might just give up and hate me forever. Alright, I'm overemphasizing the last bit, but you get the point.

In 2011 I will take care of my back. I will strengthen my core and stretch my back, hamstrings and glutes through regular yoga classes. I will make an appointment with my family doctor and get a referral to a physical therapist who will work with me over the long-term care and pre-habilitation of my spine.

I set a five year goal in 2010 to see the world. I said I would visit one new continent a year and over the next five years, I will have been to all 7 continents. I realized this isn't exactly seeing all of the world, but it's a good start.

This year I crossed Asia off my list when I spent 6 weeks in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. I haven't made up my mind about 2011 but it will either be Australia or Africa. Destination to be determined.

In 2011 I will see a country I have not been to. I will visit another of the 4 continents I have not been on. I will start researching the costs of different destinations what I would want to see while I was there.

I really like the idea of volunteering. I did quite a bit this summer either with committees or events and it's a great way to gain experience, give back to your community and add value to your skill set (without having to get a new job or go back to school).

This year I have already committed to being on a committee with a local triathlon organization. Triathlon gave me so much over the years that I really enjoy when I am able to give back.

I will also be leading the 2011 Powered By Noie team for The Ride To Conquer Cancer. This year we want to be at least 10 riders strong and we're already 8. We also have a team in Ontario and the interest for a team in Alberta. Together, we can raise over $40,000 for the fight against cancer.

Click here if you want to join our team! Just ask me for the password

In 2011 I will be a leader for the Powered By Noie team. I will stay focused on our goal of raising $30,000 (BC). I will stay motivated and inspire others to achieve their goals. I will stay organized and host one group destination ride for the whole team every month. 

I really enjoy blogging. I find writing to be therapeutic and I love the feedback I get from my readers / followers. I also enjoy what I get from the blogging community. I have found a few great blogs that I follow regularly and each of them present a perspective that I find refreshing or inspiring. Chris and his Non-Conformist approach, Katy and her minimalist life, Leo and his Zen-ness and all the interesting links / articles those point me to.

In 2011 I will update the look of my blog and find it a new home on another hosting site (don't worry, I'll leave a forwarding address).  I'll create a community of readers that post comments and share their own insight on the post of the day. I will write two posts a week and aim to inspire, entertain, give perspective and share my experiences on my approach to being remarkable. To achieve all this - I will have to live a life worth writing about. 

Not included in this post are a goals in the categories of Finance, Personal Development and Relationship. These are quite personal and I will keep for myself, but I mention it so that you might consider your goals in those areas of your own life.

Good luck with your goal setting for 2011. Remember to make them SMART.

Time associated (deadline)

What are your biggest goals for 2011?


  1. Hey Sarah - Great goals.

    I'm still thinking about mine and will likely do a post tomorrow or Sunday. I've so focussed on my January marathon that I haven't looked much further ahead.

  2. Thanks Alison. Good luck in the Bahamas! What a great way to start the year. I'll be looking for that race report:) Happy tapering.