Last week I wrote a post that reviewed how 2011 went for me and today I want to talk about my plans for next year. Originally this post was going to be a set of goals with timescales attached, but as I got to thinking about goal setting, I started to think about the possible downside of setting in stone everything I want to achieve next year.

Goal setting – good or bad?

There are a lot of different views out there about setting goals and as I thought about my plans for next year it felt important that I consider the pros and cons of such an approach. Personally, I love setting goals, doing so makes me feel inspired and excited for the year ahead and until I read differing views on the subject by people I respect, I couldn’t really see a downside.

Not living in the present

Leo Babauta is probably the most notable advocate of not setting goals. For me his argument against goals is best summed up by the following quote:

“Goals keep you focused on something in the future, instead of being present and enjoying what you’re doing right now. Goals keep you fixed on one path, which might not be the best path in a week or a month or a year. They keep you fixated on one thing, rather than being open to new opportunities, being flexible as the landscape changes, being free to pursue something you’re newly passionate about rather than sticking to something you’re tired of.”

Corbett Barr also wrote a recent post called ‘When goals make you crazy’ and asks similar questions about the dangers of not living in the moment:

“Maybe goals are like cameras. If you spend an entire vacation behind a camera, do you really experience it? Sure, you captured some shots to look at later, but how often will you really look back on them? If you spend every moment chasing goals and shaping your future, are you ever happy in the moment?”

My tips for getting the most out of goal setting

Taking into consideration what I’ve read on the subject as well as my own experiences of setting goals I’ve decided to go ahead as planned but to take into account the following three tips:

  1. Don’t be afraid to change your goals if your priorities or circumstances change. It’s no good ploughing on with something if it no longer meets your needs.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet all of your goals or if you meet them later than expected. If you are struggling to achieve a goal, accept that it might need more time or resources than you originally planned for.
  3. Enjoy working towards your goals as well as the end game of achieving them. I think you can still live in the present moment as you work towards achieving a goal, you just have to enjoy the step in your journey that you are on right now rather than always be focused on the future state. I talk about this in more detail in a previous post, ‘No future is worth wishing away your present for’.

A Year of Creating

I’ve been reading the way in which Chris Guillebeau plans for his year ahead and love the fact that he gives every year a theme. Previous themes for him have been ‘convergence’. ‘scale and reach’ and 2012 will be his year of ‘finishing’. This got me thinking about what the theme for my year would be and I’ve decided that 2012 is going to be a ‘Year of Creating’.

The reason for this is that I feel this past year has been one of discovery, research and understanding and it makes perfect sense for me to now move into a place of creating on the basis of what I’ve learnt.

I can’t help thinking of next year as a year of two halves. I will spend January, February and March in the UK preparing for my travels and then from April onwards I will be travelling the world. Although I’m keen not to tie my plans for next year up in too many deadlines, it made sense for me to set some goals to achieve before the end of March and save other goals for while I am on the road.

Jan to March

1. Get rid of 98% of what I currently own.

This is a no brainer, I leave the UK in March to travel for at least a year, so it makes economic and spiritual sense to get rid of the majority of my stuff. I’ve made a decision to keep six boxes of stuff in a friend’s loft, five of which contain books and one of which contains photos, letters and some mementos. Everything else needs to go in the next three months.

2. Learn to play guitar and write a song.

This one is thanks to my awesome friend Kellee Rich who gave me, among other things, the beautiful gift of ten free guitar lessons for Christmas, because she knows I’ve always wanted to learn. She is also a gifted songwriter herself so the best placed person to help me tick these two of my list.

3. Launch digital course with C.A. Kobu and Kathy Sprinkle. The name of our exciting new creation is yet to be confirmed but the content is underway and looking brilliant. Watch this space for more on this one.

April to December

The main reason it made sense for me to split the year into two is the dramatic change in my personal circumstances that will occur after March 2012. In a nutshell I will go from working an eight-hour day and travelling a four-hour commute to getting those twelve hours a day back to do with as I choose.

Potential creations

1. Digital course 

At some point next year, I would like to launch my own digital course. At the moment the topics that feel closest to my heart are those of facing your fears and achieving your dreams but I’d like to conduct a reader survey at some point soon to find out what you would most like to see me create.

2. First draft of my novel

I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to take part in National Novel Writing Month with the aim of getting the first draft of a novel down on paper. I’ve been carrying around the idea for this novel for well over ten years and I see this intense approach to writing as a potential vehicle to finally get my thoughts out of my head.

3. A Blueprint for Living without Limits 

For some time I’ve wanted to write a blueprint for living without limits, my manifesto if you like. With the pressures on my time that I currently have this hasn’t been possible but it’s likely to be one of my first creations in 2012.

Travel

My travel plans are very loose and open to change but so far I’m fairly certain that I’ll visit South East Asia, India and Africa between March 2012 and April 2013. Having said that, the thing that excites me most about this trip is the uncertainty of it all. I have chosen not to buy a Round The World ticket and instead bought myself a single flight to Bangkok, departing on March 27th 2012, what happens after that is up for grabs!

1.    Visit South East Asia

South East Asia is the area that I’ve thought most about, probably because it’s where I head to first. However, my plans are still fairly loose. I plan to travel north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and from there visit Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and then back through Southern Thailand. From there I will head to Nepal when I intend on doing some serious trekking and climbing to Everest base camp.

2.    Visit India

From Nepal I will head into India. I’ve barely done any thinking about where I want to go in India but I know that I’d like to go to Kerala as I’ve heard great things about the place. Other than that I am open to suggestions.

3.    Visit Africa

Again I haven’t done very much thinking about where in Africa I want to visit. Right now I have no real desire to visit South Africa and I know that I definitely want to climb Kilimanjaro but other than that I’m feeling fairly open-minded about where I’ll visit.

A Year of experiments

I talked in a previous post about the benefits of 30-day experiments and I would like to conduct a year of monthly experiments and document my results here on this blog. I hope to tie these in with other goals I have so for example, January’s experiment will be to play the guitar every day, which ties neatly in with my plans to learn guitar and write a song. February might well be a month of giving something away every day, which would also help me with my goal of getting rid of my stuff.

I’m not going to decide now what each of my monthly experiments will be as I think things will come up for me throughout the year. I will be posting about my experiments here though, just in case some of you may wish to join me in my endeavours or to share any experiments you might be taking on.

Blog goals

There are a number of goals floating around my head about this blog and where I’d like to take it in 2012. Goals around increasing traffic and the number of subscribers I would like to have, but at the moment it feels as thought I would be plucking figures out of the air. In April, I plan to start producing monthly reports on how this blog is growing in terms of traffic, my finances whilst travelling and also to give an update on my personal goals. Once I’ve done some analysis of traffic to date, I think it will be far easier to set realistic goals for future growth.

I also want to start posting twice a week once I’ve quit my job and will be giving some thought to other types of post I want to introduce to the blog. Suggestions are welcome.

As much as possible I’ve resisted putting timescales next to my plans for next year. Some of my plans or goals are time-bound but many are not and I’d like to keep it like that as much as possible. What I’ve written about in this post by no means covers everything I want to do next year but gives a flavour of the big things I’m aiming to do.

Have you had a chance to think about what you’d like to achieve next year? Or like Leo, are you are believer in not setting goals? Either way I’d love to know how you are feeling about 2012 and what it has in store for you. If you like this post please don’t forget to share it by hitting one of the buttons below. Oh and Happy New Year, I look forward to seeing you again in 2012 🙂