A New Approach to Summer Goal Setting

Though it's currently winter in Cusco, to me it still feels like summer. The anticipation of time, open space, sun rays, and plenty of moments to savor. To me, summer is a season to take in, let loose, and enjoy. 

Photo by Megan Shipley

Photo by Megan Shipley

This time it's a bit different since I'm overseas, yet I feel the same anticipation in my spirit, longing to savor and enjoy and taste true life. I recently wrote an article for a friend who owns her own personal training / nutrition coaching business and she asked about my beliefs on health. I thought for a while and answered that I think the most freeing way to approach health is to view it as something to enjoy, rather than something to fear or shame. 

I've done too many things out of shame. And I know enough to know it's not how life is meant to be lived. As the first official day of summer approaches, I think to myself that my summer goals should be things to enjoy, like my health. The months leading up to summer can be spent performing and reaching, perfecting this and that for the arrival of summer. Now that summer is here, take a breath, pause, and give yourself permission to savor. 

If you need a starting place for your summer goals, see the questions below. I hope you take time to breathe deeply, rest, pause, savor, and enjoy. 

1. Pay attention to how you feel entering this new season.

Are you tired, ragged, exhausted, and in desperate need of rest and a little extra space? Or are you feeling excited, motivated, and anxious to experience all that's before you? Maybe you're somewhere in between, but once you're aware of how your spirit feels, use this as a starting point to determine your needs and rhythms. 

2. Identify where you want to be come August or September.

What do you want to receive or build or be? Think about your needs heading into this season and imagine the finish line. Take a moment to imagine your life at the end of this season and paint a picture for yourself. Now identify two or three areas you'd like to focus on in order to achieve that end. Maybe it's your health or a new skill or time spent with the people you love. 

3. Think about what you enjoy most about summer.

Is it days at the pool, fresh watermelon, roadtrips to the beach, or hours with your summer reading list? Once you identify your favorite summer pastimes, make a list of two or three you want to prioritize this summer. 

4. Ask yourself what would stand in the way of you getting what you need and enjoying this summer?

Is it comparison or your inability to say no? Is it the little lie in the back of your head that makes you feel obligated and ashamed? Bring it to the light, write it down, and tell yourself out loud you're not going there this summer. 

5. Try something new.

Make a list of a couple things you've been wanting to try but haven't found the time for. Maybe there's a new restaurant in your neighborhood your friends have raved out or a new recipe you found online. Maybe you've always wanted to learn to surf or play tennis. Pick a couple and then schedule a time to try each one! 

I hope that by following these five steps, you'll step into Fall refreshed and full, ready for the next season and thankful for the last. 

20 Questions To Ask Yourself Before the New Year

Anyone started on their New Year's resolutions, yet? 

After Christmas I typically put aside some time to process the past year, look for themes, and identify and articulate what I learned along the way. Reflection is powerful - if neglected, we forfeit the opportunity to build on what we learned and experienced throughout the year and often become ignorant to our own lives and what's happening under the surface.

Once I spend time reflecting, I look forward. It's popular this time of year to set goals, but I also think through how I want to achieve those goals and what sort of rhythms or boundaries I'm going to put in place so that I know what to anticipate and what to say yes (or no) to. Even if you're more spontaneous than structured, preparing and looking ahead creates an opportunity to take advantage of, anticipate, and be expectant for the new year. And I for one could use a little hope moving forward. 2017 is going to our year, friends. 

Below are some reflection and anticipation questions to help you get started and feel prepared heading into the New Year. 

  1. What are some highlights of 2016? Make a list of 5-10. 

  2. What kinds of disappointments happened in 2016? Make a list of 5-10. 

  3. What are some game changers of 2016? Maybe a specific friendship or a goal you set or some kind of rhythm you put in place. 

  4. Can you list any specific "grace moments" you experienced this past year? Where did you experience grace and from whom? 

  5. Who did you most learn from this year? And what did you learn? 

  6. What worked for you this year? 

  7. What didn't? 

  8. Can you identify any themes? What's something you kept coming back to? Maybe some word, phrase, category, or passage comes to mind. 

  9. Now can you begin to list your top 3-5 takeaways? 

  10. Out of your list of takeaways and themes, which do you wish to focus on or develop this year? 

  11. What are you hopeful for in 2017?

  12. What sort of promises or dreams are you believing for? 

  13. This is the year that __________.

  14. Who do you want to learn from this year? Why? How? 

  15. What do you want to grow, advance, or move forward? This can be in your own life or in some place you're investing in. 

  16. What's your edge? In other words, where are you going to dig a little deeper, move a little closer, risk a little bigger?

  17. What do you feel most passionate about or invested in going into the new year? How can you make these things a priority? 

  18. What sort of rhythms will you put in place this year? (Daily, weekly, and monthly)

  19. What will you say yes to this year? List your top 3-5 priorities to help guide you. 

  20. If you were to sum up what you're most excited for, what you want to focus on and develop and move forward with, what sort of theme or word would you choose? I like going into the new year with a word or phrase that's easy to remember. I'll often keep it in front of me in creative ways throughout the year. 

After answering some of all of these questions, think through the best ways to check in with yourself throughout the year. I like to take a weekend (or at least a day) 2-4 times throughout the year to revisit my goals and plans. It helps keep me focused and hopeful. 

Lastly, once you reflect and think ahead, do yourself a favor and thank the people you learned from this year and notify those you want to learn from next. You may even decide to send your questions to a close friend for accountability or a second pair of eyes. I think we're our best selves in the context of community - don't be afraid to reach out and recruit others to help you meet your goals!