Goal Setting Resources for 2013

Alright guys, goal setting time is upon us!

Resist the urge to go all hipster/ironic, or emo/anti everything, when it comes to goals. Yes, I know that only capitalistic robots who have been brainwashed by corporate America would even dream of doing something so cliche as setting goals that begin on January 1st (heaven forbid). But stop trying to be unique for just one second so you can realize that, guess what? You need to do it SOMETIME, and since most of us don’t remember the rest of the year, now is a perfect time!

To help you with your 2013 goal setting, I’ve come up with a list of resources to give you some direction!

 

Goal Setting Resources:

Discovering who you are…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. Finding a valuable identity
2. Give them something (good) to remember you by
3. Discovering who you are

Outside Resources:
1. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
2. Myers Briggs Personality Test

 

Dreaming about what you want to do…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. The Discipline of Dreaming
2. Your ideal life
3. Your entire life in one word.

Outside Resources:
1. 5: Where Will You Be 5 Years from Today? by Dan Zadra

 

Setting goals and making a plan…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. Baby Steps… yes that’s a real thing.

Outside Resources:
1. Your Best Year Yet  by Jinny S. Ditzler (I apologize, it’s a little boring, but it’s the only one I know of that gets the job done!)

 

Encouragement…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. John Mayer is a Liar and Peter Pan is a hero
2. Do Epic Shit
3. Remember why it’s worth it
4. Patience Grasshopper
5. You can do it my dear
6. Manifesting your manifest friend

Outside Resources
1. The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson *
2. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller *
*FYI: Both of these are Christian books, but still very encouraging even if you don’t agree with everything in them.
December is going to fly by, so I want to hear sounds of goal setting screaming from your computers now! Go, go, gadget goals!!!!

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Your Ideal Life (a project)

I run my life in lists.

You could also say that another way, lists run my life. Regardless of how you look at it, I enjoy lists and lists enjoy me… and that works for both of us. So when I think about possible options for things to do in and with my life, I list them out.

 

Things I MIGHT want to do with my life (example list):
Be a waitress
Sea World Orca Whale trainer (my husband doesn’t know it, but this is the REAL reason I wanted to move to CA)
√ Be a mom
Amy Grant Ariel Mermaid (see previous post about this)
Dog groomer
√  Finish my master’s degree
√  Learn Spanish
√   Write a book

However there is one thing that tends to be lacking in my most of my lists, besides lists about “my potential pet unicorn names” and “things that me and my pet unicorn would do together”. Those missing elements are creativity and emotion. I know “Amy Grant Ariel Mermaid” may seem creative, but really that was just common sense to me as a child, in reality my imagination can feel limited by lists sometimes. After all, if I expand on one too much, that one line might turn into two lines and mess up my list formatting or even force me to create a new page and then what would I do?! (if you don’t relate to these thoughts then don’t worry, it just means you’re not a nerd).

So how did I solve this creative-less list issue? And how did I open up my imagination to all the possibilities that are up for the taking in my future? I wrote a story about it.

 

Yes, I actually wrote a story called “My Ideal Life”.

Of course the crazy organizer in me made sure I categorized the different chapters in the story by 5 year marks, but it still was a great exercise in allowing my right brain to take over the dreaming responsibility so that I really could reach for the stars without my left brain rolling it’s eyes in annoyance as it tried to squeeze all of the thought tangents into one line.

I put as much and as little detail into it as I wanted in different parts. I changed some of the beginning parts to be in 2 or 3 year segments instead of 5 (gasp from my left brain!), and I included some of my husband’s dreams to be able to see how our two dream lives intersect and compliment.

 

Writing my ideal life in story form helped me in ways I didn’t expect at all.

For one, I was surprised at how young it made me feel! I ended up taking my story one 5 year period at a time, all the way into my 70′s, and up until the ? mark I left to indicate my death (I wasn’t planning on going that far, I just got into it!)! I was amazed at how many 5 year periods I could still have left and at how much I might realistically be able to do during the time I still have left! I felt extremely hopeful about how much living I still have to do!

It also helped me see the big picture which is hard to do, especially because my life often feels so fly by the seat of my pants. I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford rent 3 months from now, let alone what I’ll be doing with my days in 10 years! It’s hard to see big picture and remember that the things that seem like such a huge deal now will not actually be going on for that long or be affecting me that strongly in the next stages of my life. So even if I have 5 or 10 years of struggle, I have so many 5 or 10 year periods left that if those bad years are taking me to the good ones, it will be more than worth it!

 

Basically I’m saying that not only should you do this, but you should do it without any rules.

Let your right brain truly take over and see what outlandishly unrealistic dreams you can come up with! Because if you only ever dream realistic dreams, or only ever list them out logically, then perhaps you aren’t really dreaming your dreams at all. Perhaps you’re only writing out possibilities, rather than heart felt longings. Give the right brain control and then if you want, lefty over there can take it later and break it into manageable lists and goals. When both sides are free to do what they’re best at without the hindrance of the other, you may be amazed at how big, and yet how possible, some of your dreams can seem!

 

Do it, write it out.

If you need some help, use this cheat sheet to get going. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds because when you first start out it’s basically just like playing that pre-teen girl game MASH. If an 11 year old can do it, you can!

In 2 years…..
I will live:
I will be doing:
Who will be involved:
What will my days look like:
What will my free time look like:

Those are just some questions to get rolling, but take it wherever you want and make it your own!

In two years I will be writing my successful blog and working on the first draft of my book, in the same apartment I’m in now with my husband and we’ll be….

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Give them something (good) to remember you by (a project)

I was recently asked the question…

“What do you want to be admired for?”

I had a lot of fun answering this question. You see, the questioner didn’t specify that you had to already be doing these things you want to be remembered for… just that it would be freaking amazing if people actually said these things about you! As I was about to head off in the direction of “sensational lion tamer, the best in her field” and “the most compassionate miracle producing doctor I’ve seen yet”, I decided it would probably be more helpful if I took a slightly more realistic approach.

The question hiding underneath this question is, “what are your core values?”

What things do I really think are important in life? Acne free skin? Check. Dogs with fresh breathe? Check. There are LOTS of things that are important to me! This list is going to be long, starting with either free shipping from Amazon or fat free fro-yo (I can’t decide which is more significant to me).

And now you see why you can’t simply ask what my core values are… that’s just too big of a question. Asking what I want to be admired for is a great way of narrowing it down… as long as you remember to clarify that we are talking about REALISTIC things so I don’t start muttering something about how much people love the glittery aqua and periwinkle colored scales on my beautiful mermaid tail.

So you think you already know your core values do you?

Well do you really? Can you distinguish between your parents values, your community’s values, your favorite TV show character’s values? Not to mention your OWN values? I’m telling you it’s so much harder than you think when you’re wondering, “now did Ross and Rachel decide it IS okay to sleep with someone else when you’re on a break or not?”, or “did my dad say pot’s okay only if you’re at Woodstock? Or was it only if you’re 65 with back pain? I can’t remember.”. I’m telling you, core values can be a very convoluted and confusing thing in this day and age!

Now do the work.

Since I have now given you the ever important question that you need to be asking yourself to figure out your core values, go ahead and give it a shot! Identifying your core values is the first step to figuring out what your extraordinary word is… which of course is the first step to figuring out what your extraordinary life should consist of! Well actually, your values should be the starting place for anything at all in any kind of life, really! So taking the time to make your core values concrete and clear enough that you are able to actually write them out, might be a more important step in your life than you might think!

Now grab your Rare Existence notebook – that you of course started right when I told you to – and a pencil (or keyboard, you know what I mean) and start a list of answers to the question… “What do I want to be admired for?” and see what you come up with! After that, see if you can pull general concepts from what you listed and turn them into a real list of your own personal core values that you want to strive to live by… so that they actually will be things people will admire and remember about you long after you’re gone.

 

P.S. If you want to take it a step further, look at your list of values and see if you can draw out your extraordinary word from it!

*If you want more help uncovering your values, beliefs and identity’s check out some of the other projects!

Finding a Valuable Identity (a project)

Who you are, who you want to be like, and what you want… all that kind of info was on the tag sewn into your shirt when the stork dropped you off, right? That’s not how it worked for me, I was born into this world naked as a baby so I’ve been forced to do some figuring for myself.

It’s no secret that the stork with the glasses dropped me off and I was born a nerd. If you didn’t already know that, one look at this rhetorical analysis system I’ve worked out to help me figure out who I am will sear the image of a pocket-protector wearing bird into your mind forever.

This system is not actually as scary as it sounds and you don’t need a PhD to do it, you just need some time and space to do some writing with your thinking cap on (by the way, did you hear they sell those in leopard print now!?).

If you want to try it, here’s what you do…

1. Make a list of people in the world who you believe are doing something valuable with their lives.

2. Next to each name, list out single words or phrases that represent what stands out to you the most about what they’re doing that makes you see it as valuable.

3. Go through and underline the words/phrases that you see repeated.

4. Count up how many times each word/phrase was used.

5. List the words/phrases in order of how many times you used them (words used the most go at the top and the ones used the least go at the bottom).

6. Construct a short paragraph (one or two sentences) incorporating these words in order to find out what’s important to you.

7. If you want to simplify it further, summarize that paragraph into a short statement.

Here’s a small excerpt from my personal Valuable Identity project to give you an example…

People who I believe are doing something valuable with their lives….

1. Abby Tracy– helping children, helping the poor, helping orphans, wholistic approach to helping the whole person, self-sacrifice, defending the innocent
2. Doctors and Nurses- self-sacrifice, hard work, caring, facing hard stuff
3. Good school teachers- helping children, teaching life skills, hard work, self-sacrifice, passionate, teaching others
4. Kelli Freeman– hard work, helping children, helping orphans, caring, wholistic approach to helping the whole person, teaching life skills

In the end (my full project consisted of a list of 15 people) the words/phrases that I repeated the most went like this…

Passionate- used 15 times
Caring- 15
Hard work- 14
Facing hard stuff- 12
Helps people through emotional healing- 11
Life skills- 10
Teaches others- 10
Helps children- 8
Wholistic approach to helping the whole person- 8
Self-sacrificing- 8
Defend the innocent- 7
Generous with giving money- 6

In the end, the sentence I came up with to squeeze those words into sort of a missions statement went like this….

I need to use my passion to care about others. I need to work hard and work with hard issues. I need to help others with their emotional healing while teaching them life skills. I need to sacrifice myself to help children through a wholistic approach. I need to defend the innocent when necessary and give money when appropriate.

In a simpler version that has the ability to encompass all the words…
Help children wholistically.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a flawed system… but at least it will get you started in thinking about what’s important to you!

I’m not sure that helping children wholistically is what I’m meant to dedicate my life to, but I did learn things about what I value that I didn’t expect. For example, I had no idea that I thought hard work was all that important! When I first met my husband to be, my mom tried to tell me that one of his best character traits was that he was a hard worker, but I thought that sounded boring so I decided that my favorite thing about him was that he was tall. Apparently in my heart of hearts, I really did have a soft spot for that work ethic of his that he applies to more than just his career, but to all areas of his life.

So give it a shot and see what you think! Even if you don’t follow my literature geek model exactly, it will at least give you a place to start from that might just bunny trail you off into Wonderland or some other magical place that will help you find out who you really are and what exactly you believe is important in life.

** At this point you are well on your way to completing Step 2 in finding your extraordinary life which is “Identifying Who You Are and What You Are Meant To Do”. (In case you missed it, Step 1 was “The Discipline of Dreaming“). Of course since uncovering your identity is an ongoing quest, we’ll keep talking about it here… but we’ll also continue on and eventually we’ll head straight into Step 3: “Face the Fears”.

And one more thing… if you do this Valuable Identity project, leave a comment to share what you came up with, I’d love to hear it!

(if you liked this project and want to learn more about Extraordinary Living join the  Rare Existence Facebook community)!

 

Work on your character and a good life will come to you.

Discovering who you are (a project)

Alright, enough rambling from me about the concept of identity, it’s time for you to do some muttering to yourself as well (so maybe you shouldn’t do this while sitting at your desk at work or in the middle of Starbucks).  You know how we talked about the importance of writing down your thoughts during this process? Well this is one of those times. This will be GREAT material to build from in the future, so make sure you have it down somewhere so you can reference it later.
The answers to these questions aren’t as important as the in-depth thinking process involved in getting the answers. These are meant to give you a springboard to start thinking from. Internal reflection is way important for this journey and this is just the beginning of your practice!

And away we go!!!!!!!

Talents and skills
1. What have people in your life told you that you are good at (both in the past and recently)?
2. What do you think you are good at?
3. Is there anything you feel exhilarated when doing?
4. What things do you want to learn more about or get better at?

Passions and favorites
1. What is your favorite things to work with out of the following: people, animals, nature, technology, your hands.
2. What things are the most likely to make you cry from sadness?
3. Does anything make you cry from happiness?  What is it?
4. What makes you the angriest?
5. What are your pet peeves?
6. List 10 small things that make you happy (not that hard: my list includes coffee, hot pink nail polish, and Pinterest! I’m sure many of you have a profile on some site that already has a list like this.).

Experiences
1.  What was the best day of your life?
2.  What’s one thing that made you feel exhilarated the first time you tried it?
3.  What time period in your life do you remember being the happiest?
4.  List 5 things that were the basis for why you were so happy during the period listed in #3.
5.  List 3 things you’ve done in your life that you were proud of.

Bringing it all together
1.  Are there any words or phrases you repeated a lot?
2.  Are there any similar locations?
3.  Are there any similar types of people? (i.e. kids, elderly, handicapped, injured, etc., etc).
4.  Any other trends you notice in your previous answers?
5.  From what you know about yourself currently, sum up your personality, style, and character in one paragraph.

This is a small taste of a self identification exercise! I have many more to come for you later!  If you need more right now, there are all kinds of personality tests you can take out there!  The only one I’ve done myself that I liked much was the Myers-Briggs test but look for one you think you’d like yourself if you need more help!

What do you think? Did these questions help get your thinking juices flowing?

The Discipline Of Dreaming (a project)

Most people don’t spend their days thinking about “what could be”.  And if they do, they are most likely thinking pretty small like “if I only I had enough money to get my car detailed instead of just hosed down”, or “I wish I had the time to go shopping this weekend”, or even smaller, “too bad this isn’t a white mocha with whipped cream instead of a non-fat latte”.  Yes my friends, this is what American dreaming has become!  These are the things we spend our days pining for…with a little “I wish I could go on a week long dream vacation” mixed in on particularly long Mondays.  But the kind of dreaming we’re going to start doing is the “3 wishes, genie in a lamp” kind.  I don’t care if you’re picturing a silly blonde genie who hangs out with Major Nelson, or a big blue guy that sounds an awful lot like Robin Williams… as long as your 3rd wish is to cheat and wish for more wishes, because this time you get as many as you want!

Ever since I began the “discipline of dreaming” I’ve been amazed by how incredibly hard it is! 

You’d think it’d be easy to figure out what you want in life if you could have/do/be anything!  But it’s not!  Most people can’t figure it out without putting a lot of time into it, myself included. We’re overwhelmed… either by the amount of options,  by the challenges in making them happen, or by our lack of knowledge about ourselves.  But dreaming is a necessary beginning for extraordinary living because in order to find the life you are meant to live, you need at least some idea of what’s important to you.

Your “pre-project” project.

It’s time to stop believing that the good life is for everyone else. It’s time to start finding your own good/extraordinary life. So I’m giving you a project today. But before we start I have to tell you about one of the main things that I believe will make the difference between people who will read this blog and then forget about it, versus people who will read this blog as a guide while they actually change their life. The difference?  WRITING ABOUT IT. I don’t care if you are the “writing type” or not. If you are the “person type” then when it comes to changing your life, unraveling your identity, or anything that requires any self-reflection at all (so basically everything in this blog), you will only make it so far if you don’t commit to spending a good amount of time and thought investing yourself in it.  Writing it down will help you clarify your thoughts and give you something to build on as you go. So your “pre-project” project is: Designate a place to write down everything you learn about yourself, think deeper on, or complete as a project while following Rare Existence.

Your Project.

Since (you guessed it) your project assignment is going to be to start dreaming (dream as individuals first, then together with your spouse/partner), I’m going to give you an example of what my dreaming looked like in stage 1. I think this will also make you feel better if you think you might be too lame, weird, shallow, or… sort of retarded,  to live an extraordinary life- since as you are about to see… I too am all those things.

Breanna’s dreams:
Be on Chelsea Lately (I’m not a comedian or an actress- the 2 main requirements for the show- but I’ll find a way).
Become a published author.
Have a house with a fancy guest room where people can come to feel rested.
Travel to all the major world cities (New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Rome).
Only work 1-2 days a week for the rest of my life.
Continually audit college classes for enrichment.
Have a long-term community of people around me that I love and live life with.
Spend one day like a millionaire.
Learn to be a great multi-media artist.
Swim with dolphins (yes, even after watching “The Cove”- call me heartless, but I REALLY want to do this!).
Change someone’s life 180 degrees for the better.
Spend a day in the most beautiful garden in the world.
Own a smart fridge (if it plans recipes and grocery shops for me).
Have a good enough budget that I’ll never be in debt and always have extra to give.
Go to Disneyland at Christmas time.
Go on a romantic date in New York at Christmas time.
Raise extremely healthy (physically, emotionally, spiritually) kids.
Have a home that is seen as the “community hang out” for our friends.
Often be an “anonymous donor” when I hear of a major financial need.
Have my own art room.
Spend 1 month with my friends in Malaysia.
Learn what “healthy eating” is and stick to it for the rest of my life.
Learn fluent Spanish (8 semesters of Spanish with no memory of any of it, says this is a bigger dream than it sounds).
Be taken on surprise trips by my husband with all the details worked out ahead of time.
Host a beautiful garden party
Host an awesome rooftop party on a high rise in the middle of a downtown somewhere.
Do some public speaking from time to time.
Get my old ’66 Mustang back and keep it in good condition as a “fun weekend car”.
Stay under 130 lbs for the rest of my life (not counting pregnancy of course!)
Be a terrific influence on my grandkids and very active/involved in their lives.
Have the time to volunteer for any organization I really believe in.
Find ways of exercising that I really enjoy and stick to a regular workout schedule for life.
Make a movie with my husband.
Always have my own pretty outdoor space where I can go to find relaxation and peace.

So Your project is: Write down your dreams. If it helps, go buy that coffee mug at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf that says, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” to drink your inspiration juice out of while working on this project (it actually did help me to think of some of this as an answer to that question).  Just write…no matter what you discover about yourself, no matter how petty you feel, and no matter how scared it makes you. If it frees you up to write the truth, I give you permission to sign someone else’s name on your list (as long as it’s not mine).