Be All That You Want to Be: Using New Year's Day to Reflect on Your Relationships

Be All That You Want to Be

Melissa Gosselin

Happy Wednesday, everyone! 2021 is coming to an end, and it got me thinking about personal development and goal setting for the New Year. January 1st is when I go through all my journals and planners to see if I’m happy with how I spent my time. Some of my big goals for 2022 are to deepen my relationships, widen my social circle and improve my communication. 

Over the years, I’ve found different goal setting strategies that work for me. One challenge I’ve often faced is getting caught up in the needs of the moment then falling out of line with my overall mission. So this week I thought I’d share with you how I'm mapping out 2022. 

One of my favourite personal development books of all time is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I love it because it seems to consolidate many of the things I've read about in the “self help” world — self-management, visualization, goal setting and effective communication, just to name a few. Another thing I appreciate is how the book doesn’t just focus on professional development; it also outlines how you can be the most authentic representation of your values in your family, amongst your friends, at work, and in your community. 

So here’s a short summary of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In the book, Stephen Covey outlines seven habits: The first three are within the realm of what he calls “Private Victories'', which focus on self-management. The next three habits are in the realm of “Public Victories”, which focus more on interactions with others. The seventh habit is about renewal — eating right, exercising, continuous learning and anything you do on a regular basis that will help you take on the challenges of the day. 

Today, I want to focus on two habits in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Begin With The End in Mind” and “Put First Things First” (which are habits #2 and #3 respectively). These habits are the framework I’m using for my 2022 planning session.

Visualize how you want your relationships to be

In the chapter of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People called “Begin With The End in Mind”, Stephen Covey provides a powerful exercise. He suggests picturing your funeral three years from today. (I know, a little morbid — but bear with me!) What would you want your family to say about you? Your friends? Your coworkers? People from your community? Take five minutes and write down your reflections. 

Once you’ve done the visualization, Covey suggests dividing your reflections into categories: Family, Friends, Work and Community. Next to each, think about what character traits, what contributions you’ve made and what achievement you’d want to be highlighted. Do you want your family to say you were nurturing, that you were always checking in on them, finding ways to serve? Is your achievement that you built a family of your own? 

What did the visualization exercise yield? Write it all down and create your mission for the year. It doesn’t really matter how you do this: use pictures, write out your priorities in point form, write it as a manifesto — the point is that your mission is there to refer back to. 

Break your goal down into smaller actions and put them in your schedule

Or as Stephen Covey says: “Put First Things First”. No matter how you schedule your activities — in a journal, a planner, or a yearly calendar — add “Call grandma” once every couple of weeks; add “Family dinner” every day at 6PM or coffee with your friend Janet on a Wednesday afternoon. 

Stephen Covey also suggests setting mini weekly goals based on the roles you’ve identified in your life. In the previous visualization exercise, you divided your reflections into the categories Family, Friends, Work and Community, but you can get even more specific than that. What are your goals as a husband or wife this week? As a daughter or a son? As a friend? 

Most importantly, review your schedules every so often — I like to do once a week with a more in depth reflection at the end of the month. Did you see everyone you wanted to? Do you like how you’re spending your time? 

Finally, keep your ultimate goals at the forefront. There was a time when I used to frame my goals for the year and keep them on my desk, but I’ve since found it most helpful to just stick a copy of them in my planner. I prefer doing it this way because I’ll sometimes tweak my goals throughout the year — I’ll find quotes that I feel perfectly sum up my values, or I’ll find that I need to re-prioritize. 

Final thoughts

In the past, I’ve put the majority of my focus on personal achievements and left the flowering of my relationships up to chance. I’ve since learned that there is a richness that comes from being a comfort to people you love, of knowing you play an important role in their lives, and that creating spaces in your week for relationship building is worth prioritizing. There are so many unknowns in our lifetime, and we ultimately don’t know how long we have with our loved ones. So even though there is a lot outside my control, what gives me solace is that I can choose to live each day with intention  with reverence to my highest principles. 

Want to read more about journal questions and reflections? Check out the post I did to cultivate kindness

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