Well, here we are. Another year has come and gone, and we are about to embark on what I can only hope is a better year than 2018.
It is a curious paradox. While I am excited about 2019 and all of the possibilities that are inspired by this time of year, I am nervous about setting goals for the New Year, for fear they may become lost on me as I jump back in to the regular mix of school, work and life.
I don't know about you, but my relationship with New Years "resolutions" was, in a word, tumultuous. After years of spending so much time and energy on creating them with very little to show for it, I eventually ended up in a place where I was genuinely uninspired and unmotivated. What I realize now is that my so called resolutions were unsustainable, eventually setting me up to feel like a failure.
Here's what I think…
Generally speaking, we humans aren't authentically inspired or empowered by our resolutions and intentions because:
They are born out of a place of "lack," or something we perceive to be "wrong" with ourselves.
Once we set them, we become so consumed with worry that we won't achieve them that we feel like failures... and then fail (enter: the self-fulfilling prophecy).
We become so fixated on the outcome of our goals that we completely miss out on the joy of simply experiencing them.
We don't realize that our intentions/goals/resolutions (or whatever you wanna call 'em) should be designed to support us, not put unnecessary pressure on us.
Through no real fault of our own, we don't get the support we want and need that will ultimately set us up for success.
For these reasons, and likely many others, our New Year's resolutions lack staying power and create unneeded stress to our already insanely busy lives. To change this, we must shift our perspective so that we can befriend and align ourselves with the goal-setting process.
1. Write down your intentions. These are your most authentic desires for how we wish to live our lives. Our states of being. For instance, you may intend to be more patient, more peaceful, more jovial or more successful. Intentions are the source of what we truly want for ourselves, and are the very place from which our goals are born.
2. Create specific goals. The operative word being specific. Gretchen Rubin once wrote that "you manage what you measure." As some of you may recall from her book 'The Happiness Project,' Gretchen's intention was to simply be happier. To achieve this state of being, she came up with very concrete, measurable goals that allowed her to track her progress. Ultimately, you want to be able to know if you are reaching your goals or not. Making your goals detailed and measurable makes them clear and therefore easier to manifest into your life. And, no matter how hard it may seem, please don't attach yourself to the outcome. The sole purpose of creating goals is to narrow your intentions into something tangible, and the only thing that is tangible is the present moment. So focus on it.
3. Take ACTION! This is it. Where the energy you put into manifesting must be matched with the energy you put into doing. (Manifestation is service and energy put forth in our daily lives, not just thinking about getting what we want). Creating action oriented practices that are attainable and realistic is absolutely essential to the fulfillment of our intentions and goals. Unfortunately, this is where most of us fall off the wagon, so to speak. The solution for this is to f**k the wagon, and take the slow and steady road instead of painting a mental picture of all the gloriously outlandish ways in which you will completely reinvent yourself. Lastly, adopting action practices that foster a sense of support within and around you is critical. It is okay to admit that you can't do it alone, so surround yourself with people who inspire you and hold you accountable to the 2019 you envision for your self.
Using the three steps we just discussed, let me share a personal example with you. I have a desire to feel more energized throughout the day, so I can be more present in my life. Therefore, MY INTENTION is to feel healthier and more energized so that I can say yes to new adventure and seek out exciting opportunities. Next, the SPECIFIC GOAL that will help me manifest this intention is to move more- run, do yoga, dance, walk… 5 days a week, and to cultivate a meditation practice every night before bed. Last but not least, my ACTION ORIENTED PRACTICE is to purposefully set aside the time I need to exercise on scheduled days of the week. I will also set a daily "meditation reminder" on my phone. All of this can easily be managed and measured with the use of a daily calendar; one check for being active, one check for my daily meditation practice. (It never ceases to amaze me how adults can get just as excited about acquiring check marks as kids do).
The last piece would be to set myself up with a group of people who can support me and hold me accountable. It may seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to think about this in a structured way. I can pin-point certain friends or family members who have the skills to both inspire and motivate me.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that having inspiring and motivating people in your corner will make all the difference.
Remember to have fun. Life is not linear. We all screw up, fall down and make mistakes (and we will continue to). This is a process. Be kind to yourself and every so often, remind yourself what it is you are truly after; the intentions, not the goals. Take it one day at a time, call on your supports and with an open heart and trust that good things are on the horizon.
Happy New Year!