'Tis the season for a goal setting retreat…

I like to-do lists. I like plans. I like goals. And one of my favorite things about the month of December is the ability to think ahead to the New Year, and to New Year’s goals and resolutions. This year, instead of coming up with a traditional list of goals by myself, I took part in a goal setting retreat (at the amazing Salamander Resort) with 4 BFFs. The format was so different than anything else I have done before (great for both personal and professional goals), I wanted to share, in case you too are looking for a tool to help plan next year, or the next 5 years…

I owe thanks to a Georgetown University friend, Peter, the founder of Netcito, as he shared the two frameworks we used for our retreat.

Peter suggested we write a “Merlin letter” – a letter to ourselves today written by ourselves in 5 years, describing to our today’s self how things are. The goal is to be as specific as possible, and to appeal to all 5 senses.

Merlin Exercise Guidelines

• This is a powerful exercise for articulating 5-year vision that can inform the goals you set today.

• Write a letter to yourself as though you were living 5 years from now.  Imagine the space that you are living in, the people around you, and what you are doing. Make it vivid by capturing what you are seeing, hearing, and feeling. Multiply the feelings 2x, 3x, and 4x to anchor them in your consciousness.

We allotted an hour for each of us, and we read each other our Merlin letters (about 5 minutes), with the balance of the time being used for the group’s input and questions and suggestions and open discussion. It was inspiring, emotional, constructive, and productive.

Peter also shared a worksheet on completing 2013 and creating 2014.

• The worksheet includes questions that provide an opportunity to reflect on what you learned and accomplished in 2013.

• The 2013 questions can help spark some inspiration for which goals to pursue in the upcoming year.

Here are the questions:

Completing 2013

Look at all the areas of your life as you reflect on 2013.  Consider Career, Creativity, Money, Health, Significant Other, Friends and Family, Fun and Recreation, Personal Growth, Spirituality, and your Physical Environment (house, where you live, where you work, etc.).

  1. What were your greatest successes and breakthroughs over the past year?
  2. What risks did you take this year that you are proud of – regardless of the outcome?
  3. What would you like to acknowledge yourself for?
  4. What are you grateful for this year?
  5. Who you are grateful for (and if you haven’t already told them, be sure to do that as soon as possible)?
  6. What was your biggest failure this year?  What did you learn from it?
  7. What was your biggest disappointment or loss this year?  How have you integrated it?  What, if anything, is left to heal or let go of?
  8. What is incomplete that you want to complete in early 2014?
  9. Overall, what was this year about for you (what’s the title of this chapter in the book of your life)?
  10. What lessons have you learned this past year that you want to carry into 2014?

Creating 2014

Use the full power of your imagination to create 2014.  What if it could be exactly as you want it?  What would that look like?  How would you feel?  Who would you be with?  Where would you go?  What would you do? How would you be spending your time?

  1. What will 2014 be about for you (the chapter title, the theme, or the metaphor)?
  2. What do you want to change in 2014?
  3. What do you want to begin in 2014?
  4. What do you want to let go of or stop doing in 2014?
  5. What one significant goal (personal or professional) will you accomplish in 2014?  What other goals do you intend to accomplish in 2014?
  6. Who will you need to be to create the year you envision?
  7. What have you learned that you want to put into use this year?
  8. What support will you need? Who will help you along the way?
  9. What is the risk you must take in 2014 in order to live the life you envision?
  10. What are you ready to commit to doing in the first 3 months of 2014?

Thank you Peter for enabling us to have such a productive goal-setting retreat. And thank you to my BFFs for being a part of it!

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