This is the time of year for goal-setting. Often the most introverted will temporarily become a Type-A personality. There is something about the beginning of a new year that wakes up our ambitions. I must confess, that even me (who firmly believes in the Zen of now), made a list of goals for the coming year.
If you are like most people, you have lots of aspirations for the new year, but are not that confident in the end results. I’d like to address two things that may thwart your good intentions.
Fixing or Supplementing?
Are you changing something or simply adding something? If you are changing something in your life, please take a moment to understand why it needs to change. If you feel the impetus to fix something, it may come from a belief that you are broken. If you believe that there is something inherently wrong with you, then all your goal-setting will eventually end in failure, because on some level, you believe that you are unable or unworthy of such a change.
Here is an example. Let’s say you want to lose 30 pounds in the new year. You may start off great, with a new diet. Maybe you are walking or working out several times a week. Things are going great. If these changes came from you hating what you see in the mirror, the initial motivation will burn out. That start-up energy and ambition was only a mask for self-hatred. That kind of energy will only last so long, and when you slip from your new routine, your mind will say “See, I should have known all along, this would never work. I guess I’ll just be overweight.” Once those negative feelings come out into the light, we often feel overwhelmed. The result is a sense of failure, brokenness, and a spoon in a tub of ice cream.
Now, let’s rewind that scenario and begin with a different attitude. I have a wonderful life. I am healthy and happy. I love my body. My body is the temple of the Divine. It was fashioned by God and given to me as a gift. I am beautiful, inside and out. Since life is a journey in growth and development, I would like to simply add something extra to my already awesome life. I’d like to lose a few pounds. From this point of view, it is easy to make adjustments to my eating and exercise because I am doing it from a point of Love. I can choose the salad over the burger because I Love me and want to take care of me. I am no longer depending on the energy of some huge motivation, but instead, moment by moment, I will be making better choices, which will (over time), give me better results.
Stop Beating Yourself Up.
Another reason that our New Year’s resolutions/goals don’t work out comes from a different type of negative thinking. Underneath the excitement, sparkles and kisses of the new year, many of us are carrying around a ton of guilt. We look back, and instead of counting our blessings, we beat ourselves up for not making more progress in the last year. We think “I should be farther along by now.” Or “Here I am. I’m stuck in the same dead-end job.” We cover our disappointment with a knee-jerk reaction to do better this year. So we make a big list of goals to conquer. From this point of view, your to-do list is never going to shrink, because you will always feel like you are not doing enough. There is nothing wrong with having high expectations for yourself, but let’s see if we can take a different approach.
1. Recognize your progress. Take a moment to sit and contemplate the last year. You may not be where you want to be, but you are not where you have been. What did you achieve last year? Were you recognized for something you did at work or in your family? Did some area of your life improve? Did you gain strength in a relationship? Did you pay off a bill? Did you make new friends? Did you try something new? Progress doesn’t happen all at once, and it doesn’t happen in just one area. We often don’t notice improvements unless we consciously stop and think about how our lives are better.
2. Trust your process with small goals. Every day that you wake up, you are born again. You have the opportunity to make today the way you want it to be. You don’t have to have huge, life-changing goals to be happy. Perhaps you can decide that “Today, I will be kinder.” Or “Today I will be wiser in my spending choices.” Make those decisions specific. “When someone annoys me, I will smile and really listen.” “Today I will bring a sandwich for lunch instead of spending $15 at the deli.” Growth and progress are created by conscious choices. Before bedtime, reflect on your successes. Small victories build confidence. Confidence builds courage, which leads to risk-taking, which leads to bigger successes. The trick is to focus on the moments of today, and let the Universe take care of the rest.
Face this new season with the unshakable knowledge
that you are not broken or underachieving.
You are exactly the way God created you.
You are beautiful and amazing.
Every day, you take one step higher.
You have no reason to feel bad.
You are where you are supposed to be on this journey, and
you are doing so well!
Have wonderful day/year!
I Love you all!