Well, it’s that time again. A new year full of possibility. The time when we all ask ourselves.. what will this year hold? What do we WANT it to hold? Like most people at this time of year, I’m full of an urge to make this year an awesome one. I feel inspired to use this energy to make my dreams a reality.
I’ve been thinking of my goals for 2016 all week; I started with simply writing everything I could think of that I’d like to do/be/work on in this coming year. It was a great brainstorming activity that gave me direction about what’s important to me right now, and what areas my goals should be set on. While figuring out my goals for the next year, I stumbled over a question I’ve landed on a few times before.
What do I need? Do I know me? What do I know about me? What don’t I know? Beside my list of possible goals for 2016 I found myself scribbling out an inventory of my needs (or at least everything I know about my needs).
At first I found this a strange tangent off the course of my goal setting agenda, but on further consideration I see how valuable doing both of these simultaneously can be. Seems there is a method to my, albeit subconscious, madness.
By making a list of what it takes for ME to be MY best self, I have a recipe for success, targets at which to set my goals. Even if I know I won’t meet everything on my list, knowing what I need and why I’m not my best self is powerful in itself. There is a lot of power in knowing who you are and what you need. My needs assessment also gives me knowledge of where best to put my efforts. It helps me personalize my goals to meet my needs, instead of meeting an arbitrary “healthy/happy” image. Your needs may not always make sense, or be what you think they should be. One of my adventures over the last year taught me that I need regular time in nature, specifically solo time, surrounded by trees. I could shrug it off and sarcastically make a hippy joke of myself, but instead I choose to listen to it and accept that it is best for me, and try to meet it.
If you keep failing to meet one of your goals, it might be best to reevaluate that goal and look at why that is. Sure you can say “I’m lazy” or “I have little willpower”, add it to your resolution list every January, and swear “this year I will do it”. What can be transformative, though, is looking at what you truly need and why meeting that goal and meeting your needs are clashing.
Every year I used to write down “get more exercise” as a goal, but after years and years of failing at this task I’ve started looking closer at why that is. If I’m honest with myself, when it comes to lifting weights and squats I’m simply unenthused. I have no desire to do these things, the closest I come is wishing I was someone who had the desire to do it. What I’ve learned about myself is that I’m motivated by activities that involve mental depth or a spiritual practice- my passions- and purely exercising for the sake of it just doesn’t check those boxes for me. Instead of making “exercise” a goal; I’m making dance, yoga, and hiking goals this year. These do more for me than a gym membership ever could, and because they are things I need (for other reasons than purely checking off my ‘physical activity’ box) I will be much more apt to meet them.
There are some needs I’ve identified that I’m not super happy about. I don’t like that I’m a person who needs 9 hours of sleep to be my best. Especially since I’m a night owl, and night is my best time for indulging my creativity (which is another need). Being honest about this and finally owning it, instead of beating myself up for it, is allowing me to start thinking of ways I might actually meet that need.
If I can work with who I am (a night owl) and still meet my 9 hours/night, it’s better for me than trying to force myself to go to bed early and miss out on that part of who I am. I’ve tried it many times, and failed each time. Now I can see that I kept failing because I really do treasure that part of me – I like being creative and writing at night. I get pleasure out of sitting by candlelight and listening to music while typing away. I don’t want to give that up – and quite frankly I don’t think I should have to. I used to think I was the problem. Not anymore. I’m not the problem, my circumstances that hinder my ability to wake up later are the issue. So I’m working on it.
It was easy to think I was being irrational wanting this. Most people don’t get this so why should I? Well, I’ve decided IT DOESN’T MATTER! If you can meet your needs, go for it! You owe it to yourself.
Some of my needs
may will certainly seem ridiculous to others, but to be authentically me I’m owning up to all of my needs- whatever they are and however ridiculous or lavish they seem to others. My job is to know me, own it, and take care of me.
So, how well do you know you? Are you trying to meet your needs or meet goals that clash with those needs? I invite you all to make a list of everything you know about yourself and see if your 2016 goals are set up to take care of YOU.