If you have a clear vision of where you want to go and a plan to get there, then it is much more likely you’ll arrive at your desired destination.
To get a vision of what you might really want the next phase of your life to look like generally takes some work. Sometimes it helps to literally see pictures to know what kind of life you really want. My friend and colleague, Susan Rochester helps people do this through visual journaling. Check out her work and resources on her website, Artephilia.
You can also identify role models and study their lives, activities, and behaviors. Sometimes this type of analysis helps us get a clearer picture of who we really want to become.
Reflective journaling can also be very useful. Write about your passions, talents, and experiences. Look for themes that keep popping up. This can take some time. When I went through a divorce over twenty years ago, it took me months of reflective journaling to start seeing my next life clearly. Once I had that picture of what I wanted my new life to look like, I was able to start moving into that new life. I’ve had no regrets since then.
After you start getting a picture of your next best life, start breaking down aspects of that life and write it as a statement. For example, part of my best life is to stay active. Exercise is one way I can keep active now and in the future. My statement (using present tense) is: I am physically active.
Once I have that statement, I can break down physical activity (exercise) into specific components that I can put on a scale (from achieving to struggling) and measure.
Achieving Maintaining Struggling
|Exercise:||1. Cardio 45 min
2. Strength training /core 10 + minutes (weights, etc.)
3. Balance work 3-4+ minutes
4. Stretching 3-5 + minutes
|1. Cardio 30-40 minutes
2. Strength training /core 8-10 minutes
3. Balance work 2-3 minutes
4. Stretching 2-3 minutes
|1. Cardio less than 30 min
2. No strength / core
3. Random balance work or none
4. Stretching randomly or not at all
If I do 45 minutes of cardio each day on a regular basis, I am achieving my desired amount of exercise in that one area. This measurable action plan (MAP) is kind of like behavioral orthodontics. Are behaviors slowly change over time. Once we get the the point where we want to be, then we maintain those behaviors. It is not the same as goal setting. These are new behaviors that become part of who we are (or maybe our new behaviors define who we become).