I had planned to write a really bright and cheery post about the promise of the new year. There would have been rainbows and unicorns and sequins (not glitter – I am glitter intolerant) but that was before the week that was. The shine of my 2016 has been tarnished a little by the loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, eerily similar deaths from cancer at age 69, just days apart.
Bowie’s songs are woven through the soundtrack of my teenage years, having discovered who he was (before the internet really got going) by listening to the director’s commentary on A Knight’s Tale (in which Golden Years is transformed into a medieval court dance number), Shrek II (featuring a fantastic duet of Changes with Butterfly Boucher) and Moulin Rouge (showcasing dancers dancing to and named the Diamond Dogs). Another slightly haunting and not particularly well known performance is Bowie as electrical engineering pioneer, Tesla, in The Prestige. If you haven’t seen The Prestige, you really should. If you have seen it, then you should really watch it again.
My social media accounts are full of evidence of my Potter-obsession (see above) so you will expect that I am mourning Snape all over again. Thinking about the Lily-Snape relationship always makes my eyes well up with tears. Always…
Recently, one of the mantras that echos in my mind is, “The Willoughby will never change… You deserve the Colonel Brandon.”
Essentially, for the non Sense and Sensibility addicts, you deserve the suitor that treats you like the lady you are, and not a charming but lying womaniser. With this in mind, Rickman’s performance in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility as Colonel Brandon represented to me the epitome of Mr Right, arguably, even more so than THE Mr Darcy, which makes his departure even more heart breaking.
Having the mortality of your heroes shoved in your face puts a different spin on goal setting. Goal setting for me seems very much about control but in reality, it seems more and more obvious that we aren’t the sole captains of our own destiny. Perhaps it is this thought, the perceived lack of influence on our own outcomes, that means that 80% of people don’t even bother to set goals.
I used to think that this was a sensible mindset. Not really having a target means that you can never miss; you will never fail. But this is ridiculous. You have a much greater chance of getting where you mean to be if you actually articulate the intended destination, mark the route on your map and steer in that direction rather than jumping in and being randomly swept along by the current.
In place of not particularly specific, measurable, achievable, relevant or timely New Year’s Resolutions as usual, this year, I invested in a goal setting workbook from Leonie Dawson and actually filled it out. This colourful companion full of gorgeous drawings asked me questions about what I wanted from all aspects of my life (my creativity, soul, mind, relationships, family, body, home, travel adventures, finances, and self-care); things I hadn’t thought I was missing or some I really didn’t like to acknowledge. There was also the optional opportunity to make some motivational and/or therapeutic artwork relating to the goals, mantras, word of the year etc., shown below.
I broke down my goals from the workbook into tasks and scheduled them using a Pivot Table in Excel (I’m so over MS Project). So, now, I essentially have a to-do programme for the year. I actually feel quite optimistic about the coming year which will hopefully end with a feeling of measured accomplishment and not the feeling of running out of time. After completing this whole goal setting and task scheduling process, I realised how similar it actually was to the 5 Step System Engineering V Lifecycle, shown below superimposed on my to-do list folder/portable mood board.
So, if you’re looking for an awesome 2016, I urge you to apply Systems Engineering to your life goals:
- Requirements – Ask yourself what you want in detail and document your requirements (maybe with an awesome book like this, or just write minutes for the stakeholder meeting you have with yourself)
- Design – Determine how you are going get what you want; design the plan; schedule the tasks
- Implementation – Carry out the plan
- Verification and Validation – Periodically evaluate your progress ensuring that your outcomes match both your plan and your original wishes
- Handover – Depending on the nature of the goal, make this change a permanent feature in your life (that is, go into maintenance) or finish off the task properly
And remember that these steps are not necessarily linear, like life in general. They are iterative and it’s okay to modify your requirements if things change (you’re the client here too, you are always right).
I’d love to know how your goal setting goes, what you’ve found works for you and your resolutions, and what you’re focussing your energy on this year! Also, if you wanna know anything about Leonie Dawson swag and/or Systems Engineering, send your questions my way, ’cause I’ll rave about them all day if given the chance!
Happy planning, good luck and have a fantastic 2016!