Intentions vs. Goals vs. Focus Areas
Happy 2020….I’d like to tell you about my New Year’s Resolutions, but I don’t have any. Instead, each year for the past decade I’ve put some thought into the areas of my life within which I feel the most energy.
For this year, the following are serving as my Areas of Focus (AoF):
- Lifelong Learning
Beside each AoF are the top three goals I’d like to achieve. In case you’re interested, I’ve used the free version of XMind: ZEN (for macOS). This is the final map after several iterations. Here’s how I go about deriving this information.
My ‘Six’ Areas of Focus
As I stated above, every year I go through a process of determining the six most relevant areas of my life where I feel most of my current energy should be focused. It’s a method I learned a number of years ago and for nine years six seemed to be the right number of AoF to manage. However, in the template provided above, I’ve decided on seven AoF instead of six. It seems appropriate this year, but if this is your first time doing so, I’d recommend no more than six; It seems to be the best number to successfully manage.
Here’s How to Get Started
STEP ONE: I start out using my ZenJo to make a list of the AoF candidates. After some thought and some notes on each, I determine which six (or seven this year) resonate the most with the level of energy I feel for each.
A common mistake people make in setting ‘resolutions’ is that there is rarely any context around them. To avoid setting intentions/resolutions/goals that don’t align with your energy is, in my opinion, a plan for failure. I’ve certainly experienced this more than a few times over the years.
STEP TWO: I brainstorm as many ideas under each AoF that seems realistic, throwing in some dream goals to balance our the weaker ones. Brainstorm as many as you like, the more the better. If you have many to choose from, the process will be easier.
STEP THREE: Eliminate the ones that don’t resonate. By ‘resonate’ I mean those that evoke the strongest level of excitement. It’s good to have a few of these in your final version, but I suggest limiting it to three.
It’s important to take a few days for Step Three because energy and excitement can shift. What seems to the target goal one day might feel weaker the next. I’ve taken three days to complete mine, but I’ve been doing this a while. If you need more time, please take it. The goal in this planning process if get it right, not get it done quickly. You want to be working on the most appropriate goals.”
STEP FOUR: Create a mindmap diagram either online or within your ZenJo. In past years, I’ve drawn one inside my ZenJo and listed it to my ZenJo’s Index so I could quickly locate it again.
STEP FIVE: Place a star next to the one goal within each AoF that you feel the most excited about. I LOVE this step because I know that the stronger the excitement level, the more often I’m going to engage with it.
Now It’s Your Turn
You might consider adopting this method of planning your AoF for 2020. It’s the best method I’ve come across over the years. If you do, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. 😎