Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I wake up in Vancouver to my chocolate lab licking my face. I have just enough time for a brisk run on the Stanley Park trails before returning to put fresh sheets on the guest bed. This afternoon my whole family arrives to celebrate my 33rd birthday…

I’m reading this outside the dressing rooms at Lululemon. It’s accompanied by a photo of a pony-tailed girl and some 1, 5 and 10-year goals. “What is this?” I ask a sales associate.

“Oh, it’s our goal-setting worksheet. It’s part of our training program,” she says. I peer more closely at the photos. “Wait, these are people that work in this store?” I scan the wall of 20 goal sheets. “Is this you?”

“Yup, all the employees fill them out. I just finished this goal,” she says, pointing to Reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.  “Really?” I look at her wide-eyed. “You’re studying dance… You want to live on Cape Cod?” I feel as though I’m reading her diary.

“Yes, the vision part is where you see yourself 10 years from now. You have to write it in the present tense as if it’s already happening.”

How cool! Who says you can’t find professional inspiration while shopping for workout clothes?!

On Lulu’s web site is a whole lot more about their goal-setting philosophy, plus the template employees use to map their goals. It’s a fantastic exercise for the twentysomething year old staff, the world at their feet, still idealistic and unfettered enough to dream big.

The tricky part, of course, is how you get from working retail in Times Square to waking up in Vancouver!

Lulu gives advice on how to set and achieve even the most implausible goals on their blog:

break it down

Break your big goal down into multiple smaller goals. For example: if your goal is to do a handstand without the wall, set a goal that you can achieve in a shorter amount of time that will help you get there, such as “I will practice kicking up into handstand 20 times a week for a month by June 2011.”

write it in present tense

Write your goals in the present tense, as though they already happened. This gets your mind used to thinking that your dreams don’t have to be dreams; they can be reality.

Asavakrasana is part of my yoga practice by November 2013.
I do a handstand without the wall and can hold it for 2 minutes by August 2012.
I can do sidecrow by January 2015.

make it measureable

Can you measure your goal? If you can’t measure it, it’s not a goal. This can be a challenging part of goal-setting, but there is a way to write each of your biggest, baddest goals so that they are measurable in some way.

Here are some more guidelines to follow as you write your goals:

use affirmative language

Say what you will do, not what you won’t do. This will focus your energy on the desired outcome rather than the actions or behaviors that must stop.

Example: “I practice sidecrow” instead of “I stop avoiding sidecrow.”

be specific

Make your goals as specific and concise as possible. Keep it under 15 words, with no justification required. You can always change your mind!

by when

Attach a goal to your date. State the month in addition to the year. Dates keep you accountable. Don’t overthink things too much – just pick a date.

share it

When you share your goals, you gain an instant support network of people that will hold you accountable. This also leads to conversation around your goals so that you can gain the insight and knowledge you need to achieve them.

And their instructions for the future vision section:

Visualize your life in 10 years.

What would you dare to do if you knew you could not fail?

Describe what you see, hear, and feel in your ideal life.

Who is there? How do you spend your time?

Where do you spend your time?

It makes me think of Breaking Bad. What was the A-ha moment that prompted the chemistry teacher to put his life on a completely different track? And if he didn’t know he was dying of cancer, would he still be moonlighting at that sh*tty carwash? (PS, I’m still on the first season, so you may know something I don’t.) Besides cooking meth, how can we exponentially change our fortune, quality of life and the way we view the world? When do we take the reins and responsibility rather than let life happen to us? I think it starts with Let me try to do something I’ve never done before.

Undeterred by the fact that I graduated from high school before many of the Lulu staff was even born, I decided to whip up my own goals sheet. Mary Ann’s doing one too, plus my husband and daughters, and so can you.

Think about it: We spend an awful lot of time and energy talking about our daily frustrations and why things can’t change. Could we instead set some mighty goals for ourselves and encourage our team members, friends and family to share theirs? If you decide to follow Lulu’s practice and create a goal wall at your office or home, we want to hear about it!

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