How can you really make it the best year ever?
The energy of a new year is a natural time to look ahead and set goals. But, as you know, this initial spark can soon fade over time. The better diet, exercise, organizing can start out fine and soon peter out, as the old habits boomerang back to the old set point.
What’s Going on with Goal Setting?
A goal is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “the end toward which effort is directed.” It can help give us direction so we are not spinning our wheels and just letting life pass us by. A goal may motivate us to take challenging actions (change of diet, exercise, routines) now to experience a better future.
As research shows, though, goals can easily become too difficult and defeat our will. What started out as a loft intention can ironically end up lowering our self-esteem in what turns out to be another failed attempt.
Succeeding with Your Goals
To make goals more manageable, it’s good to realize a few things. Some goals are “process” goals (I’ll eat more vegetables) versus outcome goals (I’ll lose 20 pounds).
Process goals are under our control, as we can manage our own actions. However much we fulfill good practices, though, the process does not assure the outcome, although it can definitely help. Results are largely beyond our control, but not our influence when we apply attention and effort.
Here’s another way to make progress: take small steps, building micro-habits. For example, maybe you will start off with a larger portion of veggies at dinner. Or you’ll do a few stretches after waking up or loosen your body on a foam roller.
You can always make the changes bigger over time. In other words, start out small and easy.
Also helpful is monitoring your self-talk. Instead of “I pigged out again,” you can tell yourself, “I can note what was going on then and start over again. Everyone slips up.” In other words, don’t beat yourself up for the apparent “setback.” Be kind to yourself instead.
The Bigger Picture
Small and big goals have a purpose that can serve you. But let’s go further. What’s perhaps the best way to upgrade your life this year, for a great year and a great life?
It has to do with how we look at things, as either good or bad. The rest of life — in-between stuff — often goes by unnoticed (more on this later).
For the “good” events, we can prioritize appreciating and celebrating them. For that finished project (big or small), passing a test, getting fitter, losing weight, getting organized, finding and sustaining love in your life… all of these deserve your own recognition.
Think of an accomplishment now (you can use the above list to help) …
Give yourself a congratulatory word or phrase (“Good job, you did it!”).
Give yourself a real or imagined hug.
Breathe a sigh of relief.
Do some EFT tapping to deepen the positive outcome.
Do something nice for yourself (take a walk, look at a beautiful picture, listen to uplifting music).
Smile and feel good.
And then for the “bad” events in your life. Oh no, we’re referring to the failures, accidents, illnesses and bad news. The good news, though, is that all this mess can be converted into learning and growing experiences. You can bless the trash, so to speak.
This bad trouble can become good trouble. It can serve as teachers for you, however harsh or seemingly unfair the lessons you face.
Everyday Ordinary Routines
Then for all the regular, mundane in-between events – the routines, the autopilot, the repetitive. They can be of value and uplifting too.
Awareness of life’s everyday activities (walking, driving, bathing) can be a sacred ritual, a time to be aware and quietly present. As the Zen Koan advises after awakening and enlightenment: we will still be chopping wood and carrying water.
Where does this all lead?
By using goals intentionally, celebrating the good, learning from the bad, and paying attention to the ordinary, we need to be in the moment. Yes, this moment.
We then bring our life into current time. In the now, we also meet eternity, where the now forever exists.
Such awareness emboldens and energizes us. We can more easily navigate through life’s ups and downs and ordinariness. We live more fully then, with an open heart and a discerning mind.
Yes – breathe in then out slowly — you will be having a great year!