A Happiness Journey

New Year, New You?

I don’t like the word Resolution. It sounds so Resolute! I believe life is a forever evolving, fluid and flexible thing. The definition of Resolution is ‘a firm decision to do or not to do something’. Whilst I agree that commitment is so important in life, I do also believe that humans, by nature are very ‘all or nothing’ creatures. The problem with this is that when we fall off the proverbial wagon, we rarely hop straight back on again with a moments notice. This is why only 8% of people who make New Years resolutions actually end up keeping them. Resolutions don’t really allow for life to get in the way. The unexpected trip hazards, or dumpster fires (enter COVID 19) that may pop up along the way, can easily derail a resolution. I think we need something that allows for real life and diversity, and a little less shame.

 

I truly believe that the freshness of a New Year is really a great time to reflect on past actions, whether they were successful or not, what you would like to leave behind and what you would like to continue. I also believe that it’s an amazing time to sit and hold a vision for how you would like your life to be different, or how you would like to grow moving forwards. That being said, if something is worth having, it’s worth initiating on ANY given day of the year, whether or not it’s the first of the month or a Monday. Every new second is a new chance to start again and reinvent yourself. Don’t let a calendar hold you back!

 

There are a few ways I like to go into the new year. Firstly I like to sit down and really reflect on the year just past. So often we gallop through life, moving from one thing to the next, rarely taking the time to sit and acknowledge what we have achieved, what has worked and what could use a little tweaking. The other reason I love to do this is it really gives me the chance to sit and take stock of all the awesome things I have to be grateful for. The mere fact that we’ve survived another year, especially a year like last year, is definitely cause enough to be grateful. I truly believe though, that if we don’t acknowledge those little wins, and give ourselves the pat on the back that we so rightfully deserve, that any goals we set ourselves for the future will be that much less desirable because our subconscious already knows it won’t get to celebrate it, even once we’ve achieved it, so what’s the point? I find it useful at this stage to look at any goals I may have set myself last year and look at whether or not I achieved them. If not, why not? Is there something I could do differently this year? If I tweaked my execution in some way, would I be more successful in hitting my goal this year? To expect a different result, when performing the same process over and over again is said to be insanity and I happen to agree.

 

Once I have given a decent amount of credit to the year gone past, and let it go, I sit down and look to my future. I do this in a few different ways, all of which, I believe, are better than resolutions. But that’s just my personal opinion.

 

Intentions for the year

the definition of Intention is ‘a thing intended; an aim or plan’. The majority of coaches will agree that, in order to achieve most things in life, or grow and develop in any way, the best thing to have in place is a goal or a plan. The beautiful thing about a goal and plan is, that they can be further broken down into smaller and smaller key actions and steps, to make the goal infinitely more achievable.

As Deepak Chopra beautifully explains “Everything that happens in the universe begins with intention. When I decide to buy a birthday present, wiggle my toes, or call a friend, it all starts with intention. The sages of India observed thousands of years ago that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our deepest intentions and desires. The classic Vedic text known as the Upanishads declares, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

 

Setting an Intention is like putting a destination into Google Maps on your phone. You could aimlessly drive around and have a lovely time, but you might never actually get to where you want to go. Once you input your destination however, you can relax, knowing that your sat nav has it covered, and know that, regardless of the route it takes you, one way or another you are most likely going to end up at your destination. An intention is not rigid or fixed, in quite the same way as a resolution is. You need to set the Intention, and then let it go, trusting that the Universe will handle the details. Don’t be concerned with the ‘how’, you don’t need to micromanage the process. If you relinquish your rigid attachment to a specific process then you are allowing the magic of life and synchronicity to allow opportunities to come your way. You wouldn’t plant a seed and then go back each day, judging the seed for not growing quick enough. You just trust that once planted, the seed will become a plant. Watering the seed is like taking action that is aligned with your intention.

 

Goals for the year

Goal are great, I love a good goal. I think, however, its easy to get goals wrong. One of the reasons that only 8% of people succeed at Resolutions is that we set goals that are too big or set too many of them. We forget that the person we were on Dec 31st is the very same person that will be carrying us through, at least, the first part, of the new year. And yet, many of us are guilty of heaping on the resolutions, no matter how big, presuming that the magic of the new year will miraculously transform us into these daily exercising, healthy eating, non drinking, non binge watching, non smoking Gods and Godesses. As I have talked about in previous blogs about Goals and Habits, the trick is to set something you know is achievable, slightly beyond your grasp, but still within reach and not too lofty. Once you have done this you can break it down into chunks. I like to do this by working backwards, breaking it down into smaller quarterly goals, then monthly goals, then weekly goals and, in some cases, even daily goals. Small steps are key when it comes to achieving goals, big or small, and success is so much more likely if you are able to plod through each tiny step. Remember, a goal without a plan, is just a wish.

 

A Word for the Year

One thing I like to have, at the very minimum is a word for the year. The lovely thing about having a word, rather than a resolution, is that it can act as a guide for everything you do for the year, without being too rigid and strict. A dear friend of mine introduced me to this concept and I love it. This year my word is Consistency. It’s something I feel that I have lacked in my previous attempts of trying to achieve some of my goals; the ability to just keep chipping away, bit by bit, consistently, rather than having a big grandiose idea or goal, failing, then giving up on it. Now I have my word, whatever I do throughout my year, all I have to do is keep applying my word. Your word can be anything you like that makes your soul smile. Imagine how your year would look if fun was your word? Or kindness? Or reverence? Or compassion? The list is endless. I think it would make for a pretty awesome 2021 if you applied any of those things to everything you did.

 

Values for the Year

In a similar way to the word for the year, another way of guiding your forward motion, is to sit down and write out your list of values. We all have values, whether we know them or not. Values, buried down in our subconscious, guide every decision we make, and therefore every result we achieve in life, forming our destiny. Unfortunately, more often than not, people have no real clear idea of what is actually important to them, so they sit on the fence, wading around in the grey areas of life, never taking a stand for anything or anyone. If you’ve ever struggled to make a decision on something, it’s probably because you’re unclear on what you value most in that situation. To quote Tony Robbins “The only way for us to have long-term happiness is to live by our highest ideals, to consistently act in accordance with what we believe life is truly about. But we can’t do this is we don’t clearly know what our values are! This is the biggest tragedy in most people’s lives: many people know what they want to have, but they don’t know how they want to be.”

 

A value is an end goal, not a means to an end. For example, money or wealth is not a value. You need to dig deep and discover what money or wealth allows you to have, that matters to you the most. For some people wealth means security, whereas for others it may mean freedom. Security and freedom are core values. The problem with not understanding the difference between the means and the end is that many people can go though life chasing the means, not really realising why, and often at the cost of the end value. Imagine that money means freedom to you, so you spend all your life chasing money, only to find yourself in a fancy corporate job, working 80 hours a week. If you’re chasing money, and along the way sacrifice your freedom, then money will never make you happy.

 

Another way to look at Values is to mould them to the life to want, rather than the life you have. If, year after year, you are failing to achieve a goal you want, and you write out your values, only to discover that none of them are actually helping you achieve that goal, why not change your values? Every year I have health related goals on my New Years Intentions list. But when I wrote out my list of 10 top values, health, whilst it is on the list, is not even in my top 5 I discovered. So, what have I done for 2021? I’ve moved health up to the number 1 spot. I have reorganised my values to match the life I want to live, not the life I am currently living. So now, as I go through each day, when a scenario or situation arises, I can easily ask myself, “is this aligned with my number 1 value of health?”. That will make my decision making process much easier.

 

Visions for the Year

Maybe you don’t want anything as heavy as a goal or plan for the year. Sometimes it’s nice to hold a vision of yourself instead. The power of visualisation has been well documented and can’t be disputed. Countless experiments have now been done that shows visualisation to be almost as effective as practice itself in achieving a physical result. It’s the most widely used tool for success in professional athletes and high achievers all over the world. If you can see it then you can be it. Sitting down in a quiet space with your eyes closed, allow your imagination to wander. If there were no limits, how would your life look? How would you look? How would you feel? How would you behave? Where would you live? What would your relationships look like? They say the subconscious can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality so if you visualise something often enough, your subconscious will start to align with your vision. It also creates a beautiful framework for your actions. A little bit like your word or value would do, you could hold the vision of yourself in your mind and when a station pops up, you could ask yourself, “does this action align with my desired future self?” “does this decision make me expand or contract?” “If I do this will I be taking a step towards my highest self or away from it?”.

 

I will finish with a quote I love from Albert Einstein “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. I love this quote because it reminds me that to achieve a different result, I have to change my environment and my actions.

 

So whatever you decide to do, if you decide to do anything at all for 2021 or not, I wish you all a year full of love and everything your heart desires.

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