Happy New Year!
And here’s to new beginnings…
This morning I overheard a conversation in the Gym, where one man said to his friend: “… And I’m NOT letting yet another year go by… I know I said this last year, and here I am again in the same place! But this it, I really mean it: 2018 is it, I’m going to do this, it’s going to happen!”
The way he said it, I could feel he meant it. And I quietly told him “I hold this intention with you. Whatever it is, you ARE going to be/do or have what you just declared.” And then I wondered, how many people might be in that exact same space right now: Reviewing the 2017 intentions and goals – and feeling a sense of frustration of STILL not _____________ fill in the blank.
Well, you have a couple choices of what you do with that frustration.
Choice No. 1: you beat yourself up, activate your internalized “mean parent” or inner critic and give yourself a blaming, shaming lecture, feel horrible for a while, tell yourself you ALWAYS do this, you NEVER get it right – and give up. Maybe even enroll one of your friends into your story that you are telling yourself, and have them reassure you that it’s actually true and that you’re better off settling and not reaching too high…. Yuck, right? (But we’ve all done this, haven’t we?)
Choice No. 2: you do all of the above but use the frustration to fuel your intention with the words like the man above. And then you set the SAME EXACT intention that you set last year, and maybe even every year for the past decade. And you set it in the SAME EXACT way you have done every year, out of habit (or maybe because you don’t know that there is another way) – expecting different results. Question: When you are basing your intention on frustration, blaming, shaming and beating yourself up and pushing yourself forward – how likely is it that you will keep your “New Year’s Resolution” past January? If it’s all a “chore”, a “should” or “have to” – how fun and alive is it going to feel? How long do you think you’ll stay motivated in that way, when all past evidence (and that inner nagging voice) points towards failure yet again? Yuck again (and yes, been there too…)
Choice No. 3: You use that frustration for fuel to find a DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE and a NEW WAY OF DOING THIS: First, you skip all the blaming & shaming (not so easy to do, since it is so “normal” and acceptable in our culture to talk to ourselves like this; it’s a default reaction for most of us). You activate your internalized “good parent” instead – the understanding, compassionate, creative, adult part of you who actually believes that you are much more capable than you give yourself credit for. You listen to that voice, and turn up its volume. You look for a new way to setting your 2018 intentions from that space – finding a way that excites you, that lights you up and energizes you in a way that puts you in a space of anticipation of the journey itself – instead of the dread of “what’s gonna go wrong this year?….”
So here is a new perspective, which I offer my students in my “Vision Board Retreats”:
- Sign a contract with yourself that you give up complaining and blaming for the next 21 or 30 days. Share it with a friend or coach – so that you have help to hold yourself accountable, and to cheer you on. Why? Complaining and blaming are the No. 1 habits that slide you into a dis-empowered view of life, where the inner critic has a hey day…
- Send your inner critic on vacation for these 3 weeks – promise him/her you’ll negotiate a new job for him/her after the vacation – after all, you’ll need some help to discern, and your inner critic will be very qualified for that job once he/she is relaxed from the vacation (discernment different quality or “flavor” than “Critique” or judgment – it’s the positive flip side of judgment that we all need a healthy dose of)
- Most people, when they set an intention, start with things they want to HAVE (a healthier body, more love & joy, that new job/house/car/washing machine), then what they intend to DO (lose weight, eat healthy, go to the gym, make more money, set boundaries, etc.) and lastly they might think about the things they intend to BE (kind, compassionate, loving, happy, fulfilled in their vocation, fun, playful). And so we end up with a list of things and actions – and then we “hope” that we achieve what we set out for – and that “it makes us happy when we get there.” And in the process we “try” to figure out what we need to do to fit ourselves into the things and actions on our list – and after we start spinning into overwhelm – we give up and go back to hoping and waiting for things to change, someday. Phew – it feels really heavy as I type it…
First of all, there is NOTHING WRONG with HAVING & DOING! In my view they are actually ESSENTIAL for the human experience, if not even our inherent and divine right – we need goals to grow towards, we need things to sustain us in our survival, aliveness and happiness, we need other people in order to move, grow and feel alive, these are healthy needs and wants… And it’s ok to start with a list of HAVEs and DOs as you create your intention – as that’s usually the part that comes easiest. So go for it, make your list.
But today I invite you not to stop there. Put that initial list to the side and then turn it around, and while you still have all these ideas in your mind, start over with the question
“Who do I want to be this year?” first.
Then “What do I want to do in order to support the way I want to be?”
And then “What do I want to have?” – and just see what changes…
What changed for me was first of all the energy that I felt in that intention. My intention also got a lot bolder – exciting and also a bit scary, as the to-do’s and to-have’s will require me to rise quite a bit: I will have to change some habits and patterns, and learn some new skills – and yet, since I started with the idea of who I want to be – It actually feels like a fun challenge rather than the “New Year’s Resolution Chore” that often feels like we have to “compromise more” or “give up things”…
Try it out – and let me know what you come up with. And if you want to really go deep with this, join me for a one-day Vision Board Retreat, either live or by zoom – it’s amazing what becomes possible when you take a day out of your busy life to really sort out what’s important to you for this year, and then create a visual reminder for you to help you keep on track on the days that things might feel a little foggy… And it’s so much easier to do this, when you have peers to do it with you, and a coach to guide you through the parts that you would normally resist or skip over 😉