Last April, I sat down at my computer, opened my text editor, and typed out a document titled “One year from today.” I had recently started my new job at Support Driven. I had been on board about three weeks: little enough time to still have a newcomer’s outside view and long enough time to get an idea of where we wanted to go.
On that day in April, I sat down and thought, what do I want my life to look like one year from now? What would I like Support Driven to look like one year from now? What will my work life and my personal life look like together?
I’m currently reading The Secrets of Six-Figure Woman. If we go a little broader than that title, than focusing solely on salary, and reframe it as The Secrets of Successful Women, the first secret is that women who succeed (and maybe men, too, I’m not sure) is to set an intention. To say “I intend to find a new job where I can succeed while also having time for me and my family,” or “I intend to make $150,000 next year.”
I didn’t intend my “One Year From Today” exercise to be a set of goals I wanted to achieve. I didn’t intend for it to be a statement of intention. I wrote it as a daydream to figure out what I want. I wrote it to answer the question, If it were totally up to me, where would I be with my work and leisure time on this day one year from now, and what progress would Support Driven have made? What would the details of my day look like? What would be in place at Support Driven that would help us achieve the long term goals of sustainability and scaling so the organization can grow with and serve the community for a long, long time?
After writing for about 20 minutes, I saved the document on my computer, closed it out, and didn’t think about it again. I didn’t re-read what I wrote, I didn’t reference it throughout the year. I forgot it even existed. Until one year later.
A few weeks after my one year anniversary with Support Driven, the founder Scott and I wanted to do annual reviews with each other. As I was reflecting on the year, and especially trying to recall what things were like when I first joined, I remembered my April “One Year From Today” exercise.
I found it on my computer, read it, and was delighted and amazed by it. I expected it to feel like a time capsule, which it did. But it also felt like a crystal ball.
Many of the things I wrote had come to pass, not necessarily via the path I had imagined, but the result was there even if the way we achieved the result was different. Other things I wrote had turned out to be fairly enormous projects that wouldn’t be possible to achieve with the time and resources we have. And this was okay! At the time of writing, I had no idea of their scope, only that they were things we wanted to aim for. After a year, we had done research on those projects, understood more about their scope, and were in a better position to make decisions about prioritization.
And the life I wanted for myself? With time for leisure, gardening, hanging out with my family, and the Caribbean vacation I wanted for the four of us? Check, check, check, and check.
I hadn’t meant for the exercise to be a statement of intention, but I’m realizing now that such a statement doesn’t have to be formalized as “This is my statement of intention.” Instead, the act of writing out my wishes helped me clarify what I wanted in my life, what things needed to be in place to provide that life, and what I thought might be possible for myself and Support Driven together. I think writing it out set me onto the path that would get to where I wanted to go.
Yesterday I sat down and wrote a new One Year from Today document. I’m not sure what’s going to make me remember it in June of 2020 since it’s not near my work anniversary or any memorable milestones. Maybe it doesn’t matter if I remember it. Maybe now that I’ve written it, I’m already on the path to get to where I want to go.
One thought on “If it were up to me, in one year my life would…”
Great post, Andrea. I’ve found that many women are worried by setting goals or intentions. Goals feel like another potential for failure. Or it’s difficult to come up with ideas how to achieve them. Thanks for showing how they can silently guide us along the path to fulfillment.