Envisioning the Future

Hard to believe that 2010 isn’t much longer for this world. As Americans turn our clocks back (an extra hour of sleep, yeah!), we can all look back at the past year and marvel at how quickly it’s gone. And as we gear up for holiday celebrations and weather changes, we look ahead to the murky future.

Did you set New Year’s goals last year? How’s your progress coming along? Do you plan to set goals for 2011? In my psychology practice, I’ve worked with many clients to set SMART goals:

      S  = Specific
     M = Measurable
     A  = Action-oriented (what’s your plan or process to the outcome?)
     R  = Realistic yet challenging
     T  = Time-oriented (short and long term goals)

For example, after finishing reading a book for one of my book clubs, a SMART goal might be something like “I will post my review of By the River Piedro, I Sat Down and Wept on goodreads.com by 1:30 p.m. today, by noting my favorite quotes and passages and by searching for other reviews online so that I can try to understand what in the hell Paulo Coelho was talking about in the book.”

See? I was specific, noting details about the what, when, and where, which also makes the goal measurable (knowing whether or not I will have reached the goal). I’ve laid out a specific plan for achieving the goal. I think the goal’s realistic though the longer I spend writing this blog post, the more challenging it becomes. 🙂 And, it’s a short-term goal. My long-term goal is to read and review all of the books written by Omnific Publishing authors. Eve of Samhain by Lisa Sanchez is next!

Written goals are wonderful, but visionary goals are even more inspiring. One member of my book club works at a women’s prison (you can bet I picked her brain for my novel With Good Behavior), and she has formed a book club of her own with the female inmates. They read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and decided to make “vision boards”. One prisoner’s vision was to be free, and voila! Miraculously she was released from prison, ahead of schedule. You can imagine how popular the prison book club became after that event!

My friend brought the vision board idea to our book club, and we all made our own boards last December.

What are vision boards, you ask? You simply take a piece of posterboard and fill it with images, stickers, words, you name it, representing what you want in your future. We had a stack of old magazines that we flipped through, cutting out pictures and words that we envisioned for our bright futures. Then, we went around in a circle sharing our vision boards with each other. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other, reflecting and looking forward, and have supported each other in pursuing our vision the past year. When we have our holiday party in December this year, we’ll review our progress and make new vision boards for 2011.

It’s been a great year for reaching my goals, some expected and some unexpected. Here are some of the pictures and words on my vision board:

1. Go to New Zealand to visit my college roommate Maggie. I can proudly announce that I have a trip booked for early 2011! Can’t wait.

2. Get healthier. This is still a goal in progress. (Feel free to skip over this health saga.) I’ve been plagued by hip and lower back pain for years. Last year I had a hip scope to repair a torn labrum and just two weeks ago I had radiofrequency nerve ablation to quiet the nerves in my S/I joint. A doctor got in there and fried those little suckers and now I’m almost pain free in my back, woot! I’m also finally rectifying my vitamin D deficiency. Now my goal is to get back to jogging and eating more healthfully to tackle my weight gain associated with these health problems. My trip to NZ should also help my health. Maggie and I were college swimmers together, and I predict she’ll be cracking the whip with a very rigorous hiking and sightseeing itinerary.

3. Develop professionally. I’m serving as president of my psychology organization this year, so this goal is going well.

4. Fall in love. (This goal totally violates the SMART guidelines in oh so many ways, but what the heck). Well, this goal is yet to be reached, but I’m hopeful for 2011. I haven’t really had the time or energy for dating with all the other cool stuff going on in my life, though I think I’m closer to being ready to diving back in.

5. Write. It’s funny, but on my board I have a tiny little word cut out from a magazine: writing. When I made my vision board, I hadn’t yet found the wonderful treasure that is Omnific Publishing, and I seriously doubted my ability to become a published author. What a difference a year makes! My first novel was released 7/13/10 (see sidebar for a giveaway I’m hosting) and we’re making steady progress on editing the sequel, Bad Behavior, slated for release in 2011. You can bet my NEW vision board will be filled with goals about improving my writing and continuing to meet awesome folks like yourself.

So, what’s your vision? I’d love to hear it!

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17 thoughts on “Envisioning the Future”

  1. I like your SMART idea of getting things going, plus I like the vision board idea. I've heard about doing those but never have. I don't really set goals at the beginning of the year, because I think you should have the freedom to set them whenever. My main goal this year was reading a different novel in a different genre each week. I'm on number 45! I must say, my reading has been incredibly varied because of this goal, but I'm glad it is. It allows for me to see what else is out there on the market and how my work compares. Have fun on your trip in 2011!♥ Mary Mary


  2. Hi Jennifer…I found you via the blog hop! Admittedly, I have a hard time with writing goals per se because it seems as soon as I start \”left braining\” to organize and plan, the right brain muse takes a big hike and nothing gets done. Funny thing is, I've done NaNoWriMo several years running and beat that challenge every time. So SOME part of me can manage goals–I just can't get started sitting around with calendars or boards because I get too into the planning of it!


  3. Well you had a VERY good 2010, and I'm sure 2011 will only be better. I guess my goal is better time management so I have time to set some goals. Ha. Oh, but I too will be crossing the pond in 2011—not quite as far as you—but to London to visit my sister. 😀 It was a goal for 2010, but one year off isn't too bad, ey?


  4. Mary Mary,45 different books from different genres? Wow! Are there actually 52 different genres out there? I know it's probably hard to compare, but do you have a favorite novel or two you've read this year?I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions because my gym gets incredibly crowded in January. Fortunately I know that the crowds will soon thin out come February and March, ha ha. Thanks for leaving a comment!


  5. Tamara–I forgot to mention another goal-setting guideline: there is no failure in goal-setting! 😉 Thanks for stopping by.J. Rose, nice to seee you! Interesting thoughts about using your left brain to set goals interfering with the creative right brain process of writing. I know that it's difficult to write under pressure. In an effort to achieve the goal I set about posting my review on goodreads, I ended up being rushed and late to work!


  6. Better time management so that you can set some goals? Sounds like an excellent goal, Nicki! Wait, you're already setting goals, see? ;D Your sister lives in London? I didn't know that. My sister lived in London in the 1990's and I got to visit her there–so fun. I saw five West End shows!


  7. How awesome is it that you’ve not only made great strides in achieving you 2010 ‘vision’, but in at least one area (writing), you’ve exceeded it! :)It’s true that if you don’t set out (achievable) goals for your life, you’ll just drift along wherever life takes you.‘Falling in love’– CLEARLY not very s.m.a.r.t! I suppose that if you want to achieve anything, you have to break it down in achievable steps (e.g. go *somewhere* once every *so often* to meet new people). That said, ‘falling in love’ is easy – it’s the having it reciprocated and maintaining a relationship that’s the hard part! 😉


  8. I seriously doubt you or I would just drift along (knowing our Type A personalities), but it is an extra little push to get some goals down on paper!I don't know about you, but falling in love has definitely NOT been easy for me. I'm sure that maintaining a relationship wouldn't be easy either. *sighs* ;-)Thanks, loyal blog follower Nix!


  9. Brilliant ideas in this post. I like the SMART goals, and the vision board has been part of my life from time to time.Our biggest fear can be to articulate our goals, cos they are part of our dreams too. And then putting a time limit on it, well, it seems a bridge too far. But it's actually the bridge that enables us to reach those goals.Health is always top of my goals, cos I believe it's the most important thing. And my current goal is to get my book finished, but it's actually a schoolbook.Re your back/hip problems- have you ever taken Udo's Choice Oil- it's brilliant.


  10. Hi Mimi! That's so true–articulating your goals to others is a bit intimidating. It makes me much more accountable.You're writing a schoolbook? Like a textbook? What's the topic?I googled Udo's Choice Oil and I'll keep that in mind. I already take fish oil and occasionally have flax seeds in my diet. It looks like good stuff. I think the nerve ablation FINALLY knocked out the pain, but now I need to focus on keeping healthy.Thanks for stopping by!


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