Welcome to 2009, the best year-in-the-making so far. With a new calendar to fill and a pristine canvas of 365 days and nights (ok, by this publishing a few less than that), we are ready to paint the Life we want by doing what we love and loving what we do.

We got through 2008 and its ample helping of peace & war, generosity & greed, enlightenment & creationism, a newly elected U.S. President, a musically brilliant but disgracefully mixed Metallica album, and choices accurate & blunderous by just about everyone on the Planet. Good and bad news have come and gone, but if you’re reading this, the fact is that we’re still here. The day has arrived to wake anew with fresh plans and, even more importantly, an unshakably positive attitude.

The best way to get 2009 rolling fast and strong is to set up a plan of action that will keep us moving toward the Life we want and away from complaints, finger-pointing, and getting stuck under dark clouds of bad news. And let’s not call this “new year’s resolutions“, as this word has been redefined as “yeah-right” by years of being forgotten long before February arrived. I purposefully publish this during the second week of the year as an ass-kicker, since many resolutions have likely been forgotten already.

Let’s call these Goals for 2009, since goals tend to actually get done. As we see them today, resolutions are diets that never started on Mondays that passed by unnoticed or unconscious, whereas goals more often than not become realized dreams that exist outside of someone’s head. A specific list of goals to achieve will be the compass to follow while Earth embarks on its next turn around the sun. This will be our North Star on the way toward what we truly want to be, do, and have.

The first step is to list and assess our values, or what is most important to us. This will put our interests into perspective and prioritize the top few things that we are passionate about. This can range as widely as spending time with the family, developing one’s career, helping neighborhood kids with social activities, or eating a PBJ sandwich under a tree wearing neon green undies. They should be placed in order of importance, with the most important at the top. A list of five to 10 should be enough.

An important guideline to follow is to write and order these as we actually value them, as opposed to what we think our values should be.  This is very important.

Once we have our values on paper (or screen, although I recommend handwriting) we write down the specific activities we want to be involved in that resonate with the present and future we want. Include deadlines for each goal. If a goal will take longer than a year, slice it up into smaller ones that you can do within this year. As an added measure for motivation we can include the reasons why each of these goals is important to us. Also, make sure they are stated in the positive, rather than the negative. For example, “Spending at least four evenings with the family every week” works much better than “I don’t want my family to complain about my working schedule”. State a solution, not a problem.

There’s a magical correlation between writing down goals and their accomplishment. Most highly successful people will attest to this, and I have to say that it’s also worked for an average Joe like myself.

When both lists are complete we can compare whether they correlate or not, and make modifications so that they are aligned. The more these two lists are in harmony with each other, the more fulfillment we will obtain as we work toward their fruition: the time spent working on our goals will equal the time spent on the things that are most important to us. This may seem like a “Duh!” statement, but it’s so simple that we neglect to see and apply it. As Walt Whitman said, “Truth is simple. If it were complicated everyone would understand it”.

After making both lists, read them twice every day. Repetition is one of the best ways to make something “stick” in our memory. This will keep our goals at top-of-mind, while fears and worries will drop in priority (or even fall away). When your mind is focused on what you want, there’s little room for anything else, and motivation grows so that you move toward your goals. This is not to say that we’ll ignore the current financial and global situation altogether, but that when we work toward what we truly are passionate about, our experience of life changes dramatically. We can use global information as part of our map for the year, as a guide for detours, for example. And there really is no failure, unless we quit.

In addition to having a concrete set of goals, an unwavering, positive attitude is the other most important tool to wield while carrying out our plan. Beyond any other attribute or skill, attitude is the foremost progenitor of success. When our plan is multiplied by an “I can”, “this is cool” attitude our actions shift toward these goals with much stronger momentum. We begin to create circumstances that generate the resources we need to achieve them. Other people with similar goals and attitude are attracted to us (ask: which attitudes would I like to attract?). Roadblocks become learning points. Getting up after a downturn becomes much easier.

Rise above last year and its paradigms. They’re done.
Just like our goals will be when 2009 rolls off the calendar next January.
And good luck; remember that we create our own.

Stay conscious,