First, Go Big – The Practical Idealist’s Guide to a New Year (Part I)

It’s the eve of a new year! One of my favorite times of year.

I love the energy of anticipating a fresh year, ripe with so manypossibilities.

When faced with a big new opportunity, my Idealist side is first to step forward. I love to first imagine all the possible wonderful things that could come of it.

I’m not aiming for the stars – yet. Instead, I’m looking up with curiosity, appreciation, wonder, and an optimism that there really is a universe out there, an infinity I can’t quite see.

As you get ready to make your own plan for this fresh, new 2016, I want to encourage you to take some time to daydream, look heavenward, up and all around you, even through the things that seem concrete. Begin imagining all the possibilities you might have before you.

Create space for private reflection and ask yourself: What is in the field of all possibility for me this next year?

Three ways to tap into your Idealist

As you plan for a new 2016, try one of the following creative brainstorming tools.

(Note: With any of these, keep it light and playful. We’re only generating ideas now. Our Practical side is not yet pulling us down to earth, to sort, discard or plan.)

#1 - Write

Get your ideas down on paper. Here are some questions to guide you.

  • If there were no limitations on you this year, what would you do?
    • What would these things satisfy in you?
  • What would your ideal year definitely include? 
  • What are all the opportunities in front of you now?
  • How could you expand your perception of these possibilities even further? (Tip: Look for examples around you. Get the advice of people who know you well, or who are doing things you want to do.)

#2 – Mind Map

A fictional 2016 mind map example, using Scapple.

A fictional 2016 mind map example, using Scapple.

  • Get out a big sheet of paper and a marker. (Or try a mind map software. I like Coggle and Scapple, which have a free version or trial, respectively.)
  • In the middle of the page, write “2016” and draw a circle around it. This is your central node. Everything else will branch off this.
  • Answer: What would you have in your ideal 2016? Jot all your answers down and connect them to the central node.
  • Next, write down all the possibilities and associations you make with each of those nodes.
  • Keep going so your visual of your brilliant 2016 keeps growing and growing.

#3 – Vision Board

  • Grab your old magazines, scissors, glue stick and a big piece of paper.
  • Cut and collage images that represent your amazing 2016. Anything that strikes your fancy.
  • When you’re finished, sit back and observe.
  • Take notes about what you see – or talk it over with a close friend or coach. What images did you include, and why?
  • Put it up on your wall for inspiration all year long.

If your big ideas stress you out

I know that feeling stressed can often be a by-product of thinking big.

We start worrying about how we’ll ever achieve all our ambitious goals. We put heavy pressure on ourselves and kill all the happy feelings we first felt when we cooked up our wild, grand ideas.

I’ve definitely done that before.  

Here are a few thoughts.

First, I truly believe that a wide-open, optimistic brainstorm is worth running the risk that you might stress later.   

Managing self-imposed pressure and unhealthy stress is a very valuable skill. You can start learning right now.  

Begin by thinking of your big ideas as light, positive aims for yourself. You’re using them to provide focus. They’re inspiration.

Neither you, nor anyone else in this world can guarantee that you will achieve a certain goal. It’s okay, because the world won’t end if you don’t get it, and in fact, maybe you’ll be surprised to receive something even better along the way.

The journey is going to be the best part.  

Hold these big, lovely aims lightly. Allow yourself to believe they are possible. Use them to direct your efforts.

The greatest benefit is that you are asking yourself to stretch, to be creative and ambitious when it comes to living your best life. Do this, and you are so much more likely to get closer.

Which one of these brainstorming techniques will you try out week? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Happy New Year! May it be a marvelous one.

Done with this and want to know what's next? Go to Part II, Now For First Steps. We’ll call on our "Practical" side, to root our ideas in our present reality and create a plan for them.

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