I really cannot watch ANY more Christmas films.
What is it with stuff on TV at this time of year?! You get to the stage where you’ve watched all the classic movies and all that’s left are the ones made for Netflix, which are actually just the same re-hashing over and over again.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good festive film on a chilly, dark day. But you do get rather jaded when they’re all totally predictable – versions of the same old story, where the main character ends up falling in love and remembering the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas in the end.
So in that period between Christmas and New Year, where all we seem to do is watch telly, eat cheese, and not know what day of the week it even is… what else are we meant to do with that time?
Well, maybe it’s the perfect chance to reflect a bit and think about what you really want.
I mean what you really want – in your life; in your business; your marriage; your friendships; your relationship with your children. There is literally no better opportunity to take some time away from the noise and bustle of our usual daily lives, to think about the deeper questions.
When I do this with my clients, we usually use a vision board.
We create something simple in Canva, where I ask them to look for 9 pictures that represent things they want to have and places they want to visit, but that also represent feelings they want to create.
How do YOU want to feel, this coming year?
When did we last stop and ask ourselves that? Let alone actually getting intentional about it?
Because ultimately, we run our businesses to create an income, so that we can buy the things that give us the feelings. It’s very rarely about buying the things at all.
When I say ‘things’ I don’t necessarily mean material things – because having money buys us freedom and security. It buys us a way of paying our bills so that we can take time out of our business and not need to work 40 hours a week (unless we really want to, of course).
Without getting intentional about which feelings we really want to experience, it’s all too easy to chase things that leave us feeling a bit empty when we finally get or achieve them, rather than fulfilled. Which is when all the hours we put into our businesses start to feel like a grind.
So if you were going to use the time over the festive break to think about the important things, here’s a great way to start:
Step #1 – Gratitude
This is such an easy place to begin – by making a list of all the things that you are grateful for. The big things and the little things. Your home, your car, your family, the relationship you have with your dog, the duvet that you snuggle under at night…
Whatever it is that you are grateful for, write a list until you can’t think of anything else, and then add another 10 things on the bottom of the list. This is a really useful step because it reminds us how far we’ve come.
One of the things that I really enjoyed when I walked the Great Wall of China in 2007 for charity was that from that altitude, the views are amazing. But when you stop by one of the little watch towers dotted along the wall, you can look back and see all the others that you’ve been through on that day, stretching for miles and miles and think “I was there, and now I’m here”.
It’s a sense of perspective that we don’t often get when we run our own business. How often do we forget to acknowledge the small things, or remember how far we’ve come, or reward ourselves?
If you had a job, you’d have clear milestones like getting promoted. You’d have performance reviews, where someone else tells you what a great job you’re doing. You’d most likely have a boss who’d give you a bonus or pay rise or other incentives and rewards.
But we don’t have a job. It’s up to us to reward ourselves and sometimes we get so busy that we forget to do that. Making a list of all the things you’re grateful for is a great place to start, and the down time over the holidays is a great chance to do it.
Step #2 – What do I want long term?
By long term, I usually mean 5 or 10 years into the future, or even longer. Depending on how old you are, this might be thinking about retirement, or it might be thinking about the time between now and then.
What do you really want? If money were no object, and you didn’t have to wonder how you were going to get there… what’s the life you want to live?
Maybe you want to travel the world. Maybe you want to buy a beach house. Maybe you want to move to the city, or the country.
Maybe there’s all sorts of things that you’ve thought about but have never really expressed fully or got down on paper.
Maybe, you just don’t know.
This is your chance to get it all out of your head. Write it all down. What does the long term future look like for you?
For me, it was this dream home deep in the English countryside, where we live now with our alpacas. We didn’t just wake up here one day – we had the idea, decided this was what we wanted, made a plan and then we moved forward step by step, to make the dream our reality.
Ultimately, I’m a great believer that you can achieve anything you want in life, if you’ve got a plan and then you take action on it. And this time of year really is perfect to spend some time thinking about where you want to end up, and how you want to feel.
Long term, where would you love to wake up each morning? How do you want to spend your days?
Are there experiences you want to have? People you want to be with? Places you want to see? Material things you want have in your life?
Make yourself a big list. There’s something about getting this stuff down on paper, that really helps to clarify your thoughts.
And then finally:
Step #3 – What do I want in the next couple of years?
What are the things you’d like to happen in the next year or two, on the way to your long term vision for your life?
We’ve got a notebook here with a pretty cover, which sits on the mantelpiece in the bedroom. On the front of this book it says ‘Things I Love’ and inside we’ve written down places we want to visit; places we’d love to stay; life experiences we want to have and various other things we’d love to do or have in our lives.
Towards the end of the year, as we do each year, we’ll sit down with a bottle of wine and go through the book together. We’ll cross out the things that we’ve done, add some new things that we want to do, and cross out the things that we no longer want to do (because ultimately, life moves on and plans change!).
A few weeks ago we went to the Christmas market in Worcester – somewhere that’s in the book, that I’ve been meaning to go for ages. This year, we finally got round to it because earlier in the year I had a look in the book, picked a couple of things, and then actually went on Airbnb and booked somewhere to stay, and a house sitter, and the tickets.
Would it have happened if we hadn’t written it in the book? Probably not. I’d have remembered in December, too late to sort everything out, and another year would’ve rolled by without going. Which would’ve been a real shame, because it was brilliant!
Together, these 3 steps are a great way to start getting clear about what you want. It’s important to do all 3 because without being grateful for what you’ve got and seeing how far you’ve come, it’s almost impossible to feel clear about where you want to go next.
Writing it down is important too, rather than just thinking about it – because when you do, you might realise that some of those long and short term goals are not your goals. They’re things people say you should have; things you used to want; things that maybe your parents wanted, or that seemed like a good idea at the time… but aren’t what you REALLY want from your life now.
So what’s on your list?
What’s the one thing you’d like to achieve next year?
I’d genuinely love to know. Click here, send me a message and let’s have a chat about what that thing is and what it looks like.
And as a bonus, if you send me over a screenshot of a picture of what it looks like and tell me a little bit about it, I’ll send you over a free gift as a reward to you for taking action!
Until next time,