What Do You Want

The New Year is a great time to figure out what you really want from your work and life. In order to enhance your well being or maintain a strong work- family, life balance , you must know what your priorities are. Then you give yourself the opportunity to succeed.

Knowing what you want is like going on a road trip. To reach the destination you must map out a route. Of course, like any great road trip, there will be detours along the way, but these won’t throw you too far off track if you have a desired end point in mind.

So, the first step is discovering what means the most to you. There are seven areas most people say are key to their sense of wellbeing and happiness:

Relationships

Building and maintaining successful relationships increases a sense of belonging, camaraderie and contentment. It is helpful to define what you want from the myriad of important contacts in your life. For example you may want to focus on enhancing your relationship with your workmates, friends, a spouse, or a boy/girl friend. Perhaps finding a partner, dating or improving a relationship with your ex partner is on your agenda for 2008. The first step is to decide what relationships you want most to focus on. Maybe a situation with a co-worker could be improved, maybe more time with your spouse or girlfriend is in order, or you may want to connect more with the neighbours. Choose a relationship that would make an important contribution to your overall wellbeing.

Family

Focusing on parents, children, brothers and sisters can make a big difference in your life. Some people tend to examine the type of parent they are to their children, while others look at maintaining a healthy relationship with their own aging parent. Still others may want to focus on relationships with siblings. Ending toxic relationships with a particular family member, while difficult, may be in the offing as well. Creating endings or beginnings in your family, nurturing or preserving the strengths and improving relations can be on your “wish” list for 2008.

Recreation and Leisure

Many hope to gain more enjoyment from their downtime. Rejuvenating and recuperating by doing things that bring pleasure is important. Taking up an unfamiliar activity or hobby, or learning something new could be on the agenda. Going on an adventure, traveling or purchasing a new gadget could provide a diversion. What is your passion – do you like to dance, laugh, sing? Refraining from being too serious about a pursuit and just doing something silly for its own sake or discovering a new interest can make 2008 a very good year.

Personal Development

Perhaps you will choose this year to focus on personal development. You may wish to learn a new skill, add to your intellectual repertoire, take on something that scares you – like public speaking. Maybe it’s a spiritual pursuit, such as exploring your own religion or others. Take yoga, meditate or join a gym. Go to therapy or get a coach. Whatever you think would make a difference in your life this year, is the goal to pursue. Look at what you would like to strengthen (e.g., my squash game), improve (e.g., my ability to tolerate ambiguity and be resilient to change) or quit (e.g., smoking, drinking, overeating). This is an important area for personal fulfillment and a lifelong challenge, any changes made here will net big rewards in all spheres of your life.

Financial

You may wish to increase your salary, decrease your debt or build a nest egg for an important purchase. Perhaps, you want to look at spending habits, whether overspending or stinginess. Planning for retirement, increasing your wealth or starting a rainy-day fund may be important goals. Maybe you want to look at how you handle money, take a money management course, explore the role money has played in your life and understand your attitudes about it. Some people may assess how they arrange joint finances or explore creating a new business partnership. A lot of people like to focus on this area to increase a sense of security, boost their wealth or settle old debts.

Work

We spend a lot of time working so it is important that we like what we’re doing. What do we want from our career, what career would we best suited for and what kinds of people do we work well with? What aspects of our work excite us or bore us – and how do we balance these? Deciding what you want from work is the first step in obtaining your desired result. It may seem like “pie in the sky” to believe you can get what you want from a workplace whose goals might not necessarily mesh with yours, but knowing where your passion lies helps you realize a work-related dream.

Home

Are renovations on your wish list this year? Perhaps purchasing a home or sprucing up the interior of your current abode would make you happy. Renting a nicer apartment or house could be on the agenda, getting out of town or investing in a recreational property may be what you want. Our homes are important as a source of shelter, security and comfort. Look carefully at what you want for your home environment as where we hang our hats is important to overall happiness.

Once you’ve identified one or two key areas upon which to focus, answer the following four questions:

1. What aspects of this area do you wish to preserve, nurture or maintain? If you have chosen to delve into what you want at work for example, you may observe that you like the industry you are currently in. You are committed to the product, pursuit or service. Define what you like about this aspect of your work and use this knowledge to build your goals in step four.

2. What aspects of this chosen area do you wish to change, alter or improve? For example, if you chose recreation and leisure, you may notice that you haven’t been able to “turn off” lately, life has just become one long “to do” list and that this has squeezed some of the enjoyment out of life. Or, you have noticed that you are not making time for enjoyable conversations with friends or, you are feeling stagnant intellectually. Look at what is not working for you in your chosen area and begin to think about what a change might look like.

3. If you could wave a magic wand and preserve what you want in this area and change what isn’t working, what would you be doing differently in your chosen area be it work, in your relationships or financially, etc?

4. What is the first step you would like to take towards your ideal future defined in step 3?

By focusing on what you want in one or two important areas of your life, you will have a better chance of making lasting and gratifying changes. Success, wellbeing, happiness and wellness hinge on knowing what we want and planning to achieve our dreams. Without a general road map, we could end up anywhere or worse, nowhere. Figure out what you want in 2008 and check in the following year to see what you accomplished. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Dr. Jennifer Newman and Dr. Darryl Grigg are registered psychologists and directors of Newman & Grigg Psychological and Consulting Services Ltd., a Vancouver-based corporate training and development partnership. They can be contacted at sunmail@newmangrigg.com

Identifying information in cases cited has been changed to protect confidentiality.

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