“Have As Much Fun As Possible, and Be Able To Pay For It (In Cash)”
That’s how this whole crazy journey got started back in 2012. The most fun year of my life to date, all started with this simple intention (aka goal) for the year.
I didn’t have an action plan, flow charts, or even a single “smart” goal. All I had to guide me was this one sentence on how I wanted my year to be.
I won’t bore you, or incite jealousy, with the details now. You’ll just need to trust me that, especially compared with 2011, having a lot of fun and making more money than I spent was a leap forward in my life.
My Take On New Year Resolutions
I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. If you want to do something, like lose 15lbs, why wait? Specifically, why wait until January 2nd when the gym will be extra packed?
I also don’t think specific goals work for everyone. Yes, some people do thrive on number goals. Increase sales by 30%. Earn $10,000 per month. Gain 8lbs of muscle. Whatever it is, they’re somehow able to pull it off. If you’re one of these people, well, I’m a little jealous.
The rest of us don’t do so well with these kind of goals. We’re more emotionally driven, and, can tend to be a little too optimistic when we set goals. Especially when we’re young, we aren’t great at estimating the difficulty of a goal or planning for delays and roadblocks that will come up. This can lead to a cycle of setting goals with unrealistic time-frames, and in so doing setting ourselves up for failure. Pretty soon nobody, including us, ever believes we’ll achieve the goals we set and the process loses its power.
The Intentions Approach
Now that you know how I feel about New Year Resolutions, I have to tell you, I am a very big fan of setting an intention for the year ahead. The intention is like a guiding framework for where I will focus my energy.
See, while it is possible for someone to be super healthy, rich, happy, and fulfilled all at once, it ISN’T possible to become all these things all at once. The only reason someone can be all these things is because they’ve built incredible habits, habits that take substantial time and focus to build.
This is one of the reasons I try to break my life into focused periods. 2012 was “Have as much fun as possible, and be able to pay for it (in cash)”.
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That made a lot of sense, since 2011 was devoid of fun and packed with struggle and financial debt (if you’re curious, you can read my full story here).
And as I’ve already said, 2012 was the most fun year of my life (at least in the jumping out of planes, bottle service, and driving exotic cars sense of the word). So that’s the first check-mark for the intention system.
We don’t grow if we do the same thing over and over again. So, for 2013, I set a new intention: “Shift my income to residual and passive income (from project based income working as a freelance copywriter), and to develop more meaningful relationships (versus the ‘fun’ of the year before if you catch my drift).”
The parts in brackets are just for you. I keep the intention for myself as short and simple as possible. So my actual intention for 2013 was just:
“Shift to residual and passive income, and develop more meaningful relationships”.
Now, looking back on 2013, I can say I’ve shifted 90% of my income to residual and passive sources, and am in a very passionate and fulfilling relationship with a girl I love dearly (perhaps another benefit of location independence?).
In December, as I was reflecting on 2013, I decided there had to be something to this intention approach. I couldn’t just chalk up the incredible changes I’d made to chance or coincidence.
Details Of The Intentions Approach
When I talk to my clients about the Intentions Approach I say your intention(s) should be:
“Vague in Wording, Specific in Meaning”
What I mean in the first part is that your intention statement shouldn’t be too long or specific. A lengthy statement filled with exceptions lends itself to confusion and gives you too much wiggle room. On the flip side, overly specific wording can trap you or render the statement meaningless as your situation changes; a year is a long time, and things will change.
Specific in Meaning relates to the effectiveness of your statement and can be broken down into 3 elements.
- To Be Effective, Your Statement Must Aide in Decision Making. When faced with a choice, you should be able to refer back to your intention statement for a clear answer. For example, let’s say your intention statement was “To have new experiences and do things I’m afraid of”. If you were invited by a friend to go skydiving and weren’t sure if you wanted to, your intention statement would make the answer pretty clear.
- To Be Effective, Your Statement Cannot Be Contradictory or Mutually Exclusive. It wouldn’t have worked if my intention for 2012 was to have as much fun as possible and triple my income (although ironically I did), or if my 2013 intention was to have more meaningful relationships and date as many girls as possible. Another bad example would be: “To relax and be more spontaneous, and to get up every day at 6am”.
- To Be Effective, Your Intention Statement Must Be Simple and Clear, Helping To Paint a Picture Of What Your Year Will Look Like. For example, if you think of a year where you “have as much fun as possible”, you probably have a rough idea of what the year will look or feel like. If you think of meaningful relationships and discipline you’ll likely have a different image or feeling pop up.
Final Dos and Don’ts
If you like the style of this approach, give it a try this year. Here are a few more tips to help out:
- Don’t try and mix money with fun or travel. Decide on one area as your primary focus for the year. (Ironic Twist: If you focus on travel, friendship or fun, there’s a good chance your income will increase as you meet more people and expand your network. If you focus on money there’s zero chance you’ll have more fun or travel.)
- Money, business and health mix well, as they call all benefit from a consistent daily routine, discipline and focus.
- Relationships and romance can tie in with other intentions quite well. A boost in income or travel rarely hurts one’s dating life.
- Don’t mix Bailey’s and Vodka. I learnt this one the hard way on a flight to New York. I suppose you could apply this lesson to your life. Just as two good alcohols don’t always make a good drink, two good goals don’t always make a good year. A goal of waking up early may work nicely with building your self-discipline, but perhaps won’t mix well with learning to relax. Sure, it’s possible to do both at once…but possible does not equal probable. So why not put the odds in your favour?
That’s all for the Intentions Approach. In the comments section below, share your intention statement for 2014.
P.S. I sent out an offer to my mailing list for a free 45 minute New Year Strategy Session. Those spots filled up FAST and so I’m not able to offer anything special here as I had originally planned. If you’d like to be one of the first to be notified of offers like this in the future, you can join my mailing list here (and receive a free e-course on psychology, location independence and entrepreneurship).
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P.P.S. If you’ve enjoyed this article and want to read more, you’ll also enjoy The Rules, The Dream Big Manifesto, and Choosing Location Independence: 21 Inspiring Stories.