The absence of goals, or something bigger to strive for in life, leads to coasting; slowly bleeding away happiness. As a big believer in always having goals, reaching higher, stretching personally and professionally, it bothers me when big bulls-eye personal goals are missing on the horizon. And yet, in the past few years I’ve found it easier to set business goals than personal ones.
Maybe it’s a ‘40s thing; or a Christian thing (be thankful for your many blessings, do not covet thy neighbor’s stuff); or even a self-actualization thing (yes, I was actually paying attention during the class on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).
Even more likely? It’s a prioritization thing. Life and work are so busy that I simply don’t have time to really focus on personal goal-setting and visualizing. So sitting down in a boardroom to “plan” parts of my personal life just doesn’t work like it does for business.
I’ve given this a good bit of thought and energy and have come to two truths: you take inspiration where you can get it, and anything that isn’t scheduled into my week isn’t likely to occur.
And so, I give you… Life·crafting (the active, deliberative crafting of the life you want) just coined today for this blog post! It is a purposeful, exhilarating and ongoing process that while previously unnamed captures a habit that leads to happiness.
Here’s how it works. I go to conferences, networking events, dinner parties, meetings, etc. and meet a diversity of people. With each person I meet, I try to unearth at least one really interesting thing about his or her personal life. A few examples of cool things I’ve discovered in people this week?
- Jeff is taking flying lessons and wants to own a small plane.
- Kathryn discovered roller derby this year and now she’s on a team.
- Jennifer is headed to India in 2 weeks and then to London to deliver a keynote at a blogger conference.
- Dorien has a friend who has hosted orphaned children from other countries for the summer.
Not only do I get to enjoy interesting conversation with these folks, but also I find it helps me remember names of new people more easily (great for business), and I get to “sample” potential hobbies, possessions and activities that might be a great goal for me. Through these conversations, I am exposed to all kinds of things I never would have thought of. (Who even knew you could host orphaned children from another country?) When I find something of personal interest for myself, I put it on the list. (Yes, an extended trip to India is most definitely on my itinerary in the next three years!)
The mental “trying on” of these potential goals always elicits a quick reaction:
- Pilot Lessons – would love to, but probably not interested enough to invest the time and mone
- Roller Derby – I want to keep my teeth, 44-year-old-bones do not break well
- India – Yes, please!
- Orphaned children – could be a life-changing summer for all involved
Once a month I schedule time to review them. I make an occasion of it – sit down, light a candle, have a glass of wine (or a cup of great java), some good chocolate and sort through my list. Sometimes they are small goals, skills I want to develop, hobbies to explore, etc. But sometimes they are the spark for much larger, far-reaching goals. I ultimately became a (small scale) commercial real estate investor as a result of this process.
So I no longer plan out personal goals along with business goals once per year. It becomes a life-crafting process that evolves from month to month, along with free-flowing beverages and chocolate. And presto! There they are – cool, fun, different, stretching goals that inspire me. And that makes me happy.
How do you find inspiration that challenges you to grow? What’s on your list?
About The Author
Adrienne Cregar Jandler is the Founder and President of Atlantic Webworks, a full-service web and interactive marketing firm in Greensboro, North Carolina. When she’s not working with clients on web strategy, she’s likely to be on the lake, traveling or working on property improvement projects. She also enjoys scuba diving with her husband, and is an Indian-food addict and cupcake connoisseur. Be sure to give her a tweet and circle her on Google+ .