As 2016 drew to a close, many of us were eager to kiss the year goodbye and get things going on a clean slate. While there are certainly many great accomplishments to be celebrated among us, the election of a proto-fascist to the presidency of the United States has filled many of us with a sense of unease about what the future holds. We’ve been under no illusions that this country, or any of its institutions, have ever truly met the needs of our people. Now, we’re equally clear that new and still unknown challenges are waiting on the horizon. Our joyful New Year celebrations were tinged with a sense of fear and anxiety that, while perfectly understandable given the circumstances, threatened to narrow our vision and rob us of our ability to make use of our God-given gifts and manifest the greatness that we’re here create.
Now more than ever, it’s important that we get clear about our visions for the year ahead, particularly what we’re feeling called to do with our time, energy and resources, and how we can bring those visions to fruition together in community. On Saturday, January 7, 2017 members of New Day Church gathered to do just that. If you weren’t able to join us, there’s still plenty of time to draw up your next year’s blueprint. Here are some suggestions for how to get started:
Begin with a time of contemplative prayer and meditation.
Sit in a comfortable position, then take a few deep breaths to bring yourself fully into the moment. As you settle into the natural rhythm of your breath, have the intention to keep your back upright, shoulders relaxed and away from your ears, and palms facing up in a gesture of receptivity.
Let yourself enter deeply into meditation, and ask Spirit to show you all that the last year brought into your life. Begin with January, then move through each month of the year, revisiting the highs and lows, successes and failures, moments of grace and moments of challenge. Without clinging or rejecting any of it, let what presents itself pass by the screen of your mind like a movie reel. When you come to the end of December, allow yourself to rest in stillness and clarity. Speak a blessing over all that came to pass, and open to the limitless possibility that lies ahead. Consider closing your meditation with this short reading from the prophet Jeremiah:
View your life holistically.
Before creating your vision for the new year, it’s helpful to broaden the lens through which you view your life. There are often one or two areas of life that we are most focused on in any given time, leading us to short change other areas that are equally important and worthy of our attention. In her Urban Atabex "Self Healing in Community" workshop, Esperanza Martell* presents a framework for looking at your life as being comprised of nine major areas:
- Relationships (family, friendships, romantic partners, etc.)
- Work and Career
- Fun and Leisure
- Home and Quality of Life
- Health (physical, emotional, sexual, etc.)
- Community Service (volunteering, organizing, movement work, etc.)
Note your accomplishments.
By seeing our lives in this way, we can see the different facets of our life that contribute to our overall wellbeing. We’re almost ready to envision what we’ll create in each area in the new year, but, before we do, there’s a critical next step – don’t skip it! In line with the process developed by Martell, sit down and spend some time free-writing all your accomplishments from the previous year in each of these nine areas. It's far too easy to approach goal setting from a place of lack, and overlook the abundance we’ve already been blessed with. Where did you see growth? What relationships were healthy and nourishing? What did you learn? No accomplishment is too small. Take at least 15 minutes, put your pen to the paper and, without stopping, celebrate yourself!"
Now that you’ve seen all that you’ve accomplished in the last year (and shifted to a more abundant mindset), it’s time to set your goals for the new year. Using a modified version of Google career coach Jenny Blake’s visual tool for creative goal setting, you can map out the powerful things you’re ready to create in the coming months, in all nine areas of your life.
Create your vision map.
Start by writing the year in the center of a large sheet of paper, and draw nine lines out from the center, like spokes on a wheel, pointing to each of the nine areas of your life. From each area, draw additional spokes for what you’re feeling called to manifest in that area. As you’re visioning, ask yourself questions like, “What’s important to me about this?”, “What would it look/feel like for me to achieve this goal?”, “What are concrete ways I’ll know when I’ve met it?” Dream big! What would you do if you were completely unstoppable? This map will be the North Star guiding your path through the coming months, so be unreasonable and set your imagination free. Get specific! Make your goals actionable and measurable, so you can look back at the end of the year and have a clear sense of what you’ve accomplished. But most importantly: Have fun! Use lots of colors, add pictures, doodles, glitter – whatever gets your creative juices flowing and unleashes your magic.
That’s it! This is your blueprint for 2017. Post it up on your wall so you see it at the start of every day. Share it with your friends and family. People are happy to help us live into our dreams in any way they can, but they can only do so if they know what we’re up to in the world.
Armed with this clarity, and strengthened by our community, we can be sure that no matter what challenges arise with the political winds this year, we will step forward with intention and resolve. We will support one another in making our dreams reality and activating our gifts in service of the healthy, abundant and vibrant lives that we all deserve.
*Correction: This post has been edited to adequately give credit to Esperanza Martell for her nine areas of life framework, in recognition of the importance of acknowledging the work of radical women of color that sustain our movements for justice and healing.