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Explore Life Coaching, Patti Phillips

Ready to Take Charge of Your Life in 2017? 3 Steps to Mapping your Life Path

I don’t know who will actually read this article with it being one of the busiest times of the year. Only four days until Christmas and eleven days until 2017. But if you are reading this, my guess is you find value in taking a moment to slow down and consider new perspectives and ideas.

It’s these moments when we do slow down that we have the opportunity to direct our future rather than letting life simply come at us and function in reaction mode. Imagine the difference between going to a new city with a map or just arriving at the bus station with no plan, no contacts, and no information about the city.

With the map, we’re able to identify where we are, we can see all the options of where to go, we can choose a preferred route to get to a desired destination, and we can measure how far we’ve travelled. With no map, it’s doable, and sometimes even desirable, to venture out into the unknown. It can be extremely exciting if you truly don’t care what you experience and where you end up. But for most of us, we are motivated to learn, grow, achieve success, and experience a sense of fulfillment.

It’s at this time of transition, as one year flows into the next, that we tend to take that moment to slow down and reflect on where we’ve come from (what’s happened in the past year) and where we want to go (what we desire for the upcoming year). This moment typically comes in the form of a setting a new year’s resolution.

Setting a new year’s resolution often goes something like this; 1) review the past year and highlight the things I don’t like about myself or my life. 2) Tell myself I’m going to change and set an unrealistic goal (without a clear plan and list of supports). 3) Feel bad about myself by mid-February because the goal hasn’t yet been met 4) Determine that the resolution should just be abandoned because I’ve already failed six weeks into the new year. Does that sound familiar?

What I’ve been doing the last few years as an alternative to making a new year’s resolution is claiming a “word of the year”. If you’ve been following my blogs for a while, this idea isn’t new to you. Many of you have also begun to use this strategy and from all reports, it’s been very useful for staying focused on an intention as well as providing a marker for how close (or far) one is travelling from that intention. Words like patience, growth, focus, mindfulness, motion, clarity and accept have been shared with me.

Using a word of the year as a guide to personal growth and development is about inspiring a way of being in every area of one’s life. Unlike a resolution that is typically measured by accomplishments that are either met or not met, success or failure, the word of the year is dynamic with a sense of flowing along a continuum. It can easily be assessed at any given moment, on any day of the year, to what extent one is honouring the word. A minor adjustment in attitude, perspective, or action can quickly bring one into better alignment with their intention.

Here is a three step process to mapping your path and taking charge of your life. I would suggest setting aside a good one to 3 hours to take yourself through these steps.

1) Know your starting point. Evaluate the past year.

When going on any sort of trip or journey, you must first identify where you are on the map. Without a starting point, you don’t know the distance to the destination nor can you start figuring out the route.

For the purpose of a life map, your starting point is figuring out what’s most important to you in your life right now. Take some time to reflect on the past year and consider what were some of your best experiences? What do these experiences tell you about what you really value in your life? Make a list of all these values.

2) Identify your destination. Choose your word.

Imagine standing at a trailhead in the forest. There are several different paths you could walk, all going off in different directions. Until you choose and commit to one, you will stay stuck at the trailhead wondering which is the “right” path.

Choosing your word of the year is going to come from your gut more than it’s going to come from your head. The value words you identified in step one are useful here. One of those words may jump out and say “pick me, pick me!” Or there may be a word that brings together all those values. Or it could be a word that’s unrelated.

The trick here is to pick one word that inspires you to be your best self. The word should challenge you to grow in some way and you may not know the how yet. Once you settle on your word, do a 3-5 minute meditation focusing on that one word to see what comes up. There is no right or wrong here.

3) Consider your route. Map your path.

If you use Google maps to figure out how you’re going to get from one place to another, it asks you to enter your starting point and your destination. Once that information is entered, a number of different routes are recommended. Some are direct, some have more twists and turns. The travel times are different. There’s always more than one way to get to where you want to go.

Your last step is to create a Life Map for 2017 following the concept of a mind map. Wikipedia does a good job describing the mind map if you’re unfamiliar with it.

Generally, here’s what you’ll do.

  • Get a blank piece of paper and some coloured pens (gives the map more depth and life)
  • In the centre of your paper, write your Word of the Year in a bubble. You can draw a picture that represents your word, too.
  • Consider the various areas of your life and draw a branch radiating out from your word of the year for each life area. Use a different colour for each branch.
  • For each life area, there will be different ways that your word of the year can be expressed and honoured. These “actions” will be noted on smaller branches coming from the big life area branch. This would be a good time to see an example.

By slowing down, setting aside some time to really consider how you want your life to look in 2017, and getting the path mapped out in a tangible way, the likelihood of getting where you want is significantly increased. As with any journey, there are no guarantees you will get to the destination according to plan. Sometimes there are barriers and detours you’ll need to adjust to that may be very challenging. Sometimes there are road side attractions that make you want to stay put a while and explore. Sometimes it makes sense to change the destination along the way because with each step, your become a different person with new experiences and wisdom.

The beauty of the map is that you’ll always know where you are in the present moment, regardless of how you got to this place and whether you know where you’re going. Celebrate the life you’ve lived to this point and know you have options to travel a path of peace, joy and purpose.

The Life Mapping process is creative, fun, and sometimes challenging. It’s great to do in a small group with other like-spirited gals as it inspires lots of ideas, motivation, and support.

If you’d like some guidance to walk through these three steps, I’m offering it up as a daylong workshop, “Winter Re-creation Workshop: Mapping the Life You Want”. In my opinion, the best time to do this is at the end of January when the bustle related to Christmas and New Year’s had settled. If you’re interested in this workshop (taking place on Saturday, Jauary 28th) and would like to get away from the city for a day into the winter wonderland of Pinawa, you’ll want to read more about it here.

The January Life Lesson will also focus on the idea of creating a word of the year rather than making a resolution.

“Resolutions Reinvented”

At the start of every new year, we’re encouraged to consider what we want to change or fix about ourselves. It’s a time to make resolutions. A “resolution” is defined as a firm decision to do or not do something.

With just 8% of those people who set resolutions being successful with their intentions, it’s no wonder many people don’t even bother to consider what they might improve in their lives. It’s like a set-up for failure.

But what if the idea of a New’s Year’s Resolution was reinvented? This life lesson will offer an alternative to the traditional method of setting (failed) resolutions so you can be successful at improving your life in 2017.

Date:      Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Time:      7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Location: Pilates Manitoba, 390 Academy Rd

Registration:   $20 per person (women only), maximum of 20 participants; please send me an email to confirm your registration and payment preference

Payment: you can pay through paypal or send an interac e-transfer to (you can also ask about other payment options)

If you know anyone who you think would benefit from joining in, please pass this information along.

Things to note: 

Actually start time of the life lesson is 7:40 pm. 7:30 is the recommended arrival time to prepare room and greet participants.

Group interaction and sharing is encouraged. These life lessons are intended to take information to inspiration to action.

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