2019 will be a great year if___________. Yes, you have to fill in the blank. What event, challenge, situation, or accomplishment will make 2019 stand out? Take a moment to think about what that would mean to you. Fill in details. Can you see yourself on stage accepting the award? Can you feel the sea breeze from your hammock? Bring all your senses into it. Don't stop at an outline, color it in. In fact, color outside the lines, and paint a vibrant picture of your 2019 pinnacle event. Regard what’s familiar and notice the new in your masterpiece.
I recently led a workshop called “What to do now to make 2019 Great”, and I asked each participant to spend five minutes writing about the accomplishment or achievement that will set 2019 apart. I urged the group to bring this event to life, to describe it in "living technicolor." How will you feel? Who will be there with you? Where are you? What exactly are you doing? It took a few minutes, but eventually, pens started moving across the paper. I saw smiles flirt across faces, shoulders relaxed, and the room came alive. One by one the participants shared their goals, portraying vital details that brought their dreams for 2019 alive.
Why is this important? Because goals don't just happen. They take work. Most people don't set goals for the mundane or routine. We don't set a goal to brush our teeth twice a day, or to have a cup of coffee in the morning; these things are done automatically. Goals by definition require us to do extraordinary things. But even in the unusual, there are elements of the familiar. Taking time to flesh out a goal highlights essential details, and we can count on the familiar and plan for the unfamiliar.
My husband and I are taking our family of 12 on an epic vacation this summer in celebration of our 40th wedding anniversary. Our family is consists of, four sons, two wives, one fiancee, and three grandkids. I know what a perfect trip looks like. It starts with having the whole family making the trip. A week free from domestic chores. A week of sunny skies, sea breezes and warm water. A week where each person spends the day doing what they want and every evening gathered together laughing and sharing our adventures. A week with no squabbles, happy, cheerful grandkids, and no adult drama. A week where my husband and I are thanked and appreciated and revered. I can practically feel the sand, taste the nightly cocktails, and hear laughter as we share our stories. The cost of this trip is way outside of our normal budget and it marks a significant personal milestone. So it's a pretty big goal.
Keeping my vision for the week in mind helped my husband and me to plan this vacation. We decided on a week at a Caribbean island. It is relatively easy to fly into, so if work demands surface, family members can join us for part of the week. The house we're renting comes with a staff, so we don't have to negotiate cooking and cleaning duties. There are countless recreational options, beaches are close, a pool on site, and even rafting nearby. That's important because our family has very different interests, ranging from sports to books and video games. Some may want to snooze in a hammock, others want to hike and go to yoga classes. We've routinely vacationed with our family, so we are familiar with their varied interests, food requests, and love for the sun. Vacationing near the ocean in the summer is very familiar.
But this is an important anniversary, and we wanted the trip to be more than our normal week at the beach. Going back to Nags Head wasn't going to set this trip apart, but a trip to an island might. It combined what we knew the family liked with something more. Something new and outside our expertise. We talked to trusted friends about their Caribbean experiences and they helped us to find viable options. The island we choose has an airport, the house is near the ocean and has plenty of room. A van is provided to allow for exploration and there is internet access to meet tech needs. We've never vacationed in a place with dedicated staff, so that checks a couple of other boxes.
Thinking carefully about what ingredients will set this experience apart helped us to plan. Of course, mother nature or cranky bosses may throw a monkey wrench into my plans, but at least I've done what I can. Goals require us to tackle things we haven't done in the past. Take time to fantasize and visualize the details, it will reveal the familiar and energize you to address the unfamiliar.