I sat down the week before listening to this book [Audible is my new favourite thing] and I did my 2016 review and set 2017 goals for myself. I have to say, my 2016 was pretty fucking special. It was absolutely extreme – extreme highs and extreme lows and extreme change. It was a total miracle, every day.

I used my calendar to remind myself what I’d been doing each month, and then I summarised each month’s achievements into one defining highlight. Surprisingly, against most months I felt the conviction to write the word ‘brave’ next to my achievement. Yep. Me. Brave. Aren’t I fucking epic.

When I went about setting goals for 2017, and then breaking them down into quarterly goals, it of course looked a lot like a MASSIVE to-do list [I think my 2016 review made me think I was bloody Superwoman or something because seriously, I wrote the most outrageous goals – dream MASSIVE or go home right?]

Well Danielle LaPorte assures me that this is the WRONG way to go about this task.

By all means, review your 2016. Please do. It is enlightening and cathartic and enlightening… oh I said that already. But it really is. I mean, wow. It’s going to teach you something about yourself. There are patterns in your diary. Really. You most definitely achieved a shit tonne more last year than you thought you did. It’ll remind you what a total badass you are and how much actually happened in your life in 2016.

[If you find it hard to do a 2016 review because you didn’t write stuff down in your diary properly, then that’s ok. Just make sure you use your diary properly in 2017 so you have a record of how badass you are! Because you wont remember anything otherwise. I know this because that was me a year ago – no idea what I had achieved in 2015 because I hadn’t written any of it down. Which made me think I didn’t achieve anything. WRONG. I achieved loads, I just couldn’t recall. So I got together with a friend who has a better memory than me [not hard as it turns out] and she reminded me that I am in fact a badass. So maybe you could do that too.]

After that, instead of writing a new list for 2017 of to-dos and to-buys and to-haves, switch on Danielle LaPorte.

I say switch on because I really think this works better as an audio.

If you don’t have Audible, let me take a second to explain… It’s an Amazon company. The first book is free. Then, if you so wish, you can sign up for a subscription and get one book per month for £7.99. Cancel anytime. You can also get other subscriptions [personally I have gotten so obsessed with audiobooks that I got the 24-books-a-year subscription]. It is great value for money as usually an audiobook is like £30 [I kid you not] and even a paperback book is often more than £7.99. I love being read to, and I love that I can play it in fast forward, so I can be read to at double speed. Back to the point…

Danielle talks you through a series of exercises designed to make you think about how you want to feel, and she uses stream of consciousness to get you to map your core desired feelings. This is why I think it must work better as audio. As she was asking me questions in my ears, I was writing pages of feeling words down as she spoke. Much better than keep referring back to the book, and trying to remember what the question was, and then trying to focus on how you want to feel. Also it stopped me from skipping forward to the next question on the page…

I took myself out of my normal environment and went to sit in my favourite place – the outdoors with some trees. I sat there all day listening to Danielle and writing down words in my notebook. I like to do things in one sitting. But you can do it however you like. There is a pause button, you are allowed to use it. She encourages you to take breaks. Sometimes, she says, people take weeks or even months to complete the process, and that is ok. If you’ve gotta grab 10 minutes in the car while you’re waiting for your kids to get out of school, or listen on your commute, then do that. That’s totally ok.

I really enjoyed the process and the thinking behind it.

Our to-do lists are not the foundations of our being. When we write down that we want to get promoted at work, or buy a new car, or move house, or become an expert at something… what we are really saying to ourselves is:

“If I buy a new car I will feel [INSERT APPROPRIATE FEELING WORD]”

“If I become an expert at headstands I will feel [INSERT APPROPRIATE FEELING WORD]”

“If I get promoted at work I will feel [INSERT APPROPRIATE FEELING WORD]”

You get the idea.

So before we write down our to do list, we should probably put down the foundations first. What is it that you want to feel? Primarily. I mean, everyone wants to feel good and happy, but what are the feeling words that really resonate with you? Which words light you up and make you leap out of bed in the morning?

If you hate your job, and you hate your car, and you hate your house, and you hate your spouse [too far?] then these feeling words will help you get back on track. When you wake up in the morning, instead of thinking ‘fuck my life’ you can refocus and think ‘today in the office I am going to do one thing that makes me feel [INSERT CORE DESIRED FEELING HERE]’. And if you do that every day, you’ll soon see your life changing. Really. I’m not being crazy.

This is what I did. While I didn’t have a list of my core desired feelings to move towards at the beginning of 2016, I did know the feelings that I was moving away from. Every day I took a step further away from those feelings. And over time, I got to here. Where we are standing right now. Furthest away from those feelings ever. And, NOW that I DO have a list of my core desired feelings, I can start to move TOWARDS more specific feelings [I mean, happiness is great but it isn’t very specific is it].

Once I had my list of core desired feelings, I re-looked at the goals I had set for 2017 and realised that:

  • I had written a five year plan not a one year plan. I mean, I am fabulous but I’m not sure I can realistically achieve world domination in 12 months
  • Not all of the things on my list were going to help me achieve my core desired feelings [so I scrapped them]
  • And fantastically, most of the things on my list WERE geared towards my core desired feelings. Wonderful!

I’ve also experience a greater sense of what I can say no to. Getting clear on how I want to feel makes it obvious when I am about to say yes to something that actually isn’t serving me, to something that is probably better off in the hands of someone else, to something that really doesn’t make me feel any of my core desired feelings and so should probably not be taking up any of my time. And so I say no instead.

We all have unique strengths and talents, and saying no to something that isn’t meant for you is just as important as saying yes to the things that ARE meant for you. But imagine if you’d just said yes to something that didn’t align with your core desired feelings, and the next day someone asked you to do something that DID align, but you couldn’t do it because you were busy doing that thing you already agreed to do that you actually didn’t want to do! DISASTER.

Get clear on how you want to feel. And then live your life in accordance with that.

Go listen to Danielle LaPorte. She knows. She will change your life.

What are your core desired feelings? Let me know in the comments or over in our Facebook Group!