How to set life goals. My experience with the Lululemon way.

On the 30th April 2016 I had a bit of a “moment”.
 
To be fair I had to look up what the exact date was but with hindsight, I believe my experience on that day set me up for what I did exactly 5 months later. I resigned from my job to pursue being a yoga teacher.
 
It was on Saturday 30th April 2016 that I went to a Lululemon Vision and Goals workshop here in Zürich. It was at their old pop-up style store (set-up before their new flagship opened later in the summer) and it was my first interaction with Lululemon.
 
Via their local Facebook page, I learnt about their free Vision and Goals workshop and already having a few life and career-related questions whirling around in my head, I thought I’d go and see what it was all about.

And it was good. Very good. Some of the reflection techniques were relatively simple but simple proved to be extremely effective for me (and maybe for you too?).
 
So what did we do in the workshop? The workshop followed 4 steps which I have given little names:

  1. Where to start with goal setting.
  2. Your life. Your values.
  3. Feel your life.
  4. Commit it to paper.

Before you read ahead to step 1 go and grab a cup of tea, some paper, pens and a cosy corner... are you ready? Right, then let's begin...

Step 1: To orientate us with goal-setting and for getting into the right frame of mind we were first introduced to Lululemon's approach to strong and achievable life goals. More info can be found on the Lululemon brand website but I have also summarised the key parts for you:

  1. Possibility – remove all your self-created limitations. Anything is possible. Imagine a blank sheet of paper ready to be filled with your wildest dreams and ambitions.
  2. Vision – what does your ideal life look like? Picture your life in 10 years’ time (more on how to do this with a meditation below).
  3. Balance – look at your life in a balanced way by looking at career, health and personal goals.
  4. Audacity – be bold!
  5. Format – focus first on what your 10-year goal is and then trickle this back to your 5-year goals and then 1-year goals. Use concise, affirmative language to really make sure you GET the plan. Leave no room for indecision with clear and straightforward language for all stages of the plan.
  6. Integrity – how can you make them real? How can you bring them into your daily life? Telling close friends, writing them on the fridge, blogging about them. Anything which can help give you accountability for your plan!

So now you know a bit more about how to think about goals. Now it's time to make this personal...

Step 2: Your Life. Your Values. It sounds cheesy but by answering the below 7 questions the Lululemon ambassador made me realise some pretty key stuff to what makes me tick.

  • What are the 8 things you value most in life?
  • In 30 seconds or less, write down the 3 most important goals in your life right now?
  • What would you do if you won $1 million?
  • What would you do if you only had 6 months to live?
  • What have you always wanted to do but have been afraid to attempt?
  • In looking back at all the things you’ve done, what gives you your greatest feeling of importance?
  • What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?

From answering these 7 questions I certainly found repeated ideas, intentions, ambitions, desires and dreams coming through. Try it for yourself now before moving onto step 3!

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Step 3: Feel your life.
This step is the one that did it for me. Framing my perspective in step 1 helped set the scene. Answering the above 7 questions in step 2 certainly focused my attention. But step 3 brought it to life through meditation. I can close my eyes even now (10 months later) and see my visualisation and FEEL it. Powerful stuff.
 
So taking a comfortable seat with your back straight (sitting on a chair is also great if you have any back tension). Start by closing your eyes and bringing your attention to your breath. After a few rounds of grounding breath begin to visualise yourself by looking down on yourself in the room you are sat in right now. Hover above yourself looking at the top of your head. Take a few breaths here noticing how pretty your hair is from above ;) Next, begin to move out and visualise the full room you are sat in from a birds-eye view. Take in the view. Then slowly move further out still and visualise the building you are in. Continue very slowly to move further and further outwards until you see your entire street, then your town, your state/region, your country, until eventually you are looking at the entire continent and then the whole planet. Take a moment to pause and acknowledge the fact that you are one little person in a whole world of life, sat down there somewhere doing this current meditation.
 
Next begin to slowly move back towards yourself, but instead of coming back to yourself as you are right now, move closer and closer to the earth and find yourself in 10-years’ time. Get closer to the country, town, street and building you are in. Once you have found yourself 10 years in the future, now is the time to really pay attention.
Where are you?
Who are you with?
What is in your environment that stands out to you?
How are you spending your time?
And most importantly how do you feel?
There may be other details you can see from the visualisation. Maybe you can already tell quite a lot from what you can see. But I urge you to pay particular attention to how you feel. This is the aspect that really stayed with me even now 10 months after doing the visualisation.
 
When you have spent some time with the future you, it is time to come back home to the now and digest what your visualisation means.
 
Very gently begin your journey home by gradually moving away from your 10-years-in-the-future-self until you can again see the building, the street, the neighbourhood, the town, the country, the continent, and finally the world. Take another moment to pause and admire the scale of the world we live in.

And then very slowly begin to descend back again to earth but this time coming back to you as you are today. Coming in closer and closer until you are back with yourself sat down right now on your blanket or chair. Pause for a few breaths before opening your eyes and reaching for your pen and paper…

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Step 4: Committing your experience to paper is your chance to write down all you witnessed and felt during your meditation. My advice here is to just keep writing. Don’t worry about it being full sentences, or even making any sense. Write down words, colours, feelings, ideas, thoughts and try and digest what you have seen in your visualisation.
 
On first glance maybe you didn’t learn too much from your visualisation but remember that anything you experience can help guide you to your 10-year goals.
 
Keep writing for as long as you can and then pause and take a moment to review all your notes. Having brain-dumped your entire experience on a sheet of paper it is now time to try and bring some structure and maybe “sense” to what you witnessed.
 
During the Lululemon workshop we were then asked to complete this sheet and it may be useful for you too. Use the left hand side to document your visualisation (grab extra paper if the small space doesn't quite do the job), and then use the right hand side to turn this into your 3 goal areas: personal, career and health. And then as you digest and get to know your life vision in 10 years' time, you can then start trickling this down into 5-year and 1-year goals.
 
This is where it is also useful to bring back in step 1 (where to start with goal setting), to make sure you stay on track with ambitious, audacious and balanced goals, as well as affirmative and clear language to help you realise your goals in 1, 5 and 10 year stages.

Phew! How do you feel? How was the experience for you? For anyone out there who may be experiencing the same sort of life questions I was, I hope you find it useful. I especially can’t recommend the meditation technique enough as something which really bought my plan to life.
 
And one other thing to note… don’t just do this once. Repeat it every so often and sense-check you are still on track to realise the life you want. Things in life change, priorities shift, you learn about yourself as you go, and so it won’t be surprising that goals also adjust and move. Allow them to be fluid and to stay true to you. By using these 4 steps I hope you can learn some great techniques to get a bit closer in setting intentional and meaningful goals. And most importantly, to live your life exactly as you want :)

I would love to hear how you get on with this if you give it a try? And does anyone have any other techniques or ideas for tuning into your life goals?