Embrace solitude, reflection, and goal-setting. A guide to your own personal offsite.
Step 1: Disconnect
A few housekeeping/admin items:
- Schedule and protect time. I recommend 2 hours to keep yourself focused but not rushed. And certainly, take more time as you wish. Block your calendar and plan to be somewhere with minimal distractions.
- To maximize your time and creativity, turn your phone on ‘do not disturb’ or ‘airplane mode’. Unless your situation prohibits, disconnect to prevent unnecessary interruptions. You don’t want to be distracted by text, email, robo calls, or app notifications!
- While it’s ideal to go somewhere outside your normal routine to shake things up, you don’t have to go into the woods or to a resort per se. Any place that feels fresh and inspiring to you is good. If you work from home, choose a different room or sit outside, weather permitting.
- When going through these questions, it’s great to have a journal, pad, or paper to physically write on. Yes, we’re going old-school analog. It’s a refreshing break from the norm. So pick up a pen, and let’s get to it!
Step 2: Reflect
Take notes on the highlights of your prior year. Thumb through your calendar month-by-month or week-by-week if helpful.
Notice what stands out to you.
Be sure to journal as you ask yourself these questions:
- What activities and experiences did you love?
- When did you feel most alive? What were you doing at the time? Who were you with?
- What lessons did you learn?
- What activities or experiences made your skin crawl?
- Where might you have spent time not-so-productively?
- How could you have responded differently in difficult situations?
- Where might you have missed an opportunity to learn?
- Can you think of times when you weren’t so “healthy”? What was going on, and how did it make you feel?
The next step is to delve deeper, into “Why”
Where you think it’s worth going deeper, ask yourself “Why was this important to me?” Or “Why did or didn’t I enjoy it?” Each time you discover an answer, bring out your five-year-old self and ask another related “Why”? Some recommend asking yourself “Why” as many as five times on each topic. ‘Why?’ – you may ask? Each time you ask and answer another level of “Why”, you push closer to inner beliefs, feelings, and motivators you may not have realized before.
For the questions answered above in Step 2, choose a few where you want to go deeper. Challenge yourself to five rounds of “Whys”. Examine the question with your answer and ask “Why”, “Why”, “Why”… Be sure to journal any personal discoveries or ‘Aha’ moments.
- Did you uncover any insights or clues into potential areas for personal growth?
- Did you clarify any personal values or principles? Discover insights into your own intrinsic motivations?
At this point, you could simply take these and say ‘Going forward, I’ll do more of what I love and less of what I don’t!’
But may I suggest that you look for the deeper lessons in the “things-and-people-that-don’t-feel-so-comfortable-to-me” category.
Oftentimes our greatest trials and the most difficult individuals turn out to be our greatest teachers.
Step 3: CELEBRATE
It sometimes feels trite to celebrate smaller milestones when you’re marching towards a much bigger vision or goal, but taking time to acknowledge and “celebrate” each step of the way is important. Even gaining new knowledge and personal insight is no small feat. Give yourself some props!
- What accomplishments, deeds, or situations are you most proud of, and why?
- What aha(s) just surfaced that you need to celebrate? (Even if it’s realizing a habit you need to drop – that’s a ‘win’)
Step 4: Reset & Resolve
Going forward, what do you want to accomplish or improve?
Identify one or more specific areas and then set goals for each.
Warning: keep the goals manageable! While you may have a grander “vision” you’re marching towards, setting “SMART” goals helps assure success along the way.
i.e. Goals should be discrete, measurable, and attainable over a defined timeframe. Those familiar with the “SMART” acronym know goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
Once you have these set – you may want to think of a word or mantra to keep you focused and remind you of your goals this year.
Taking it one step further, write a summary of your goals with specific timelines and share them with an accountability partner or group. The act of being accountable to someone else makes progress all-the-more likely.
Step 5: Execute – Consistency is Key!
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”— Chinese Proverb
Make progress each day or each week towards your goals.
Establish a regular check-in with your accountability partner or group. Monthly or quarterly may be a good cadence. Come prepared with a concise summary of where you are, what you’ve learned, and how you will progress moving forward.
Just knowing someone’s expecting a regular update on your progress will help keep you on-your-toes.
Go for it, and pick yourself up when you fall. We all stumble – there’s no shame in that. Remind yourself of all the “Whys” in how this goal is important!
Take the lessons, be consistent, and day-by-day you’ll be one or more steps closer than you were before.
We all want a good result. But keep in mind the process – that’s how you go about it, and the person you become. You want to enjoy and learn from the process.
Who you are and what you become is arguably more important than any single result.
Now, go get it! If you went through this exercise, we’d love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below or email us.
Here’s to continued success and good health.
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