A few days ago a close group of friends and I rang in the new year. Amidst the somewhat blurry memory of whiskey, dancing, glowsticks and laughter (see right) I remember feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of events that had taken place over the last twelve months. New jobs, new relationships, new outlets; some sad goodbyes, some unexpected outcomes and lots of filming. 2014 was huge, but now we’re saying goodbye, getting organized and looking to the future. Here’s how I like to start a new year.
The List: You can thank Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson for boosting the term ‘Bucket List’ into the general public’s vocabulary. Whether you’ve seen the film or not it’s become a relatively common feature in a lot of our lives, and mine is no exception. A Bucket List is generally regarded as a list of things to do before you die - most popularly things like swim with dolphins, learn a second language, skydive, etc. I made one a few years ago but found that it didn’t motivate me to actually do the things on my list. I found myself saying “I’ve got plenty of time. I don’t need to swim with dolphins right now. The time will come for me to pester those adorable mammals.” It felt too big, too much to take on at once, so I decided to narrow it down. I created a yearly Bucket List and to appeal to the competitive gamer in me I named it my 2014 Quest List. I dedicated one page to Personal & Experience related quests (visit a new country, go camping, charity fundraising, bake a cake, etc) and another for Creative & Videography related quests (make a showreel, write a short story, finish my website, etc). This soon became my productivity catalyst for 2014. I’d check the list every day and see if any quests could be completed or worked towards. It kept me on my toes and made sure my habit of procrastinating was kept in check. Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on my Quests for 2015 and it’s coming along nicely. Seeing a full list without any items yet ticket off provides a real sense of impending adventure and creativity for the year to come. If you feel like you’d benefit from a bit more focus and motivation in your life then try giving this a go yourself!
The Goals: I used to made videos for a training company and was exposed to countless hours of management training footage so I feel qualified when I say this - they bloody love acronyms. There’s seriously an acronym for everything, however there was one that stuck out to me and it happened to be regarding goal setting. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound, and I apply this system to my quests. I’ll not go into each one as there are hundreds of websites that explain SMART goals in more detail, but I’ll provide some personal examples - read 10 books, visit three new countries, donate blood, go hillwalking, run a 10k, go to a festival, learn to drive, see the Northern Lights, fix my guitar, make thirty videos, make a travel video, create a digital VHS archive and create a 2015 Highlights Reel similar to the one I made in 2013. These goals are obviously specific to me and my long-term goals but perhaps they’ll ignite some ideas towards your own goals you’d like to achieve this year.
The Result: Every small progression made through the quest list is a small step towards a final result, which in this instance is an idea of who and where I’d like to be by the end of the year. Change is inevitable whether you take control over it or not, which I think has been summarised nicely by Heraclitus - “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” What I’ve learned is that personal change is generally slow by nature, but leaving a trail of evidence provides a position of relativity to look back from. This makes it easier to see the difference between you a few months ago and you right now.
Looking back at my 2014 Quest List I can see my stand-out experiences and the fond memories associated with them, and it only excites me more about the potential that 2015 harbors. Try it for yourself and see, and have a great new year!