How to Take Charge of the New Year and Accomplish Realistic Goals
The New Year has begun, and for most people, that means thinking about what they would like life to look like in the coming year and beyond. Some people make New Year’s resolutions. In fact 45 percent of Americans create them and only about eight percent fulfill them. Some reasons resolutions fall short are:
- Unrealistic goals, like planning to lose 20 pounds in 20 days.
- Thinking that you “should” do something (even though you don’t really want to!)
- Setting the same old tired resolutions year after year (like losing weight) and knowing you’ve tried and failed before, making it tiresome instead of motivating.
What can you do differently to start the new year with lots of energy and focus to create what you do want this year?
1. Clearly identify what you want. A client told me once, “You’ve helped me realize I’m doing what I don’t want, instead of what I do want.” This client was a dedicated mother of four. She worked full time and kept a very active schedule, taking her children to after-school sports events and music lessons. She rarely had time for herself. She hadn’t focused on what she wanted in a long time. In fact, if you asked her straight out, “What do you want in your life?” she couldn’t even answer the question. She had been on what I call the “hamster wheel of life,” going through the motions, getting everything done by fully focusing on everyone else’s schedule and needs. She knew she felt empty, but until she said those words, she wasn’t aware that it was because she was unconsciously going through the motions and hadn’t considered how to gain fulfillment from her own life.
If you’ve been busy and haven’t had time yet to think about what you need to have your life be more fulfilling in the next twelve months, here are some ways to get clear:
- Take some alone time and write in a journal the answer to two questions:
- What has been missing in my life?
- How do I want this year to be different from last year?
- Another thing you can do is make a list of those things in your life that aren’t serving you anymore. Maybe you’ve decided you’re spending too much time watching TV when you could be more active. A list like this can often help you back-door-it into what you do want.
- Have a conversation with a trusted friend or a coach who can ask you rich questions and help you explore your desires, feelings and options to gain deep insights that may be hard to discover on your own.
Let Go of What You Don’t Want
Once you’ve listed what you do want to create in your life this year, try a fun ritual and powerful practice that has worked for me for several years. It’s called a Burning Bowl Ceremony, and it is more about letting go of what you don’t want than writing out tired old resolutions. Here’s how to do it, in case this idea resonates with you, and you want to give it a whirl:
- Think about what no longer serves you in your life – an outmoded habit, a belief that keeps you stuck, a relationship or situation that doesn’t feel good or get you anywhere.
- Write those things down on a piece of paper. Write to your heart’s content, knowing that no one will ever read what you’ve written. Express all of your feelings. Say everything you’ve ever wanted to say.
- When you’ve written it all out on paper, without re-reading what you’ve written, fold it up and burn it.
- Yes, burn it. Let it go! Throw it in the fireplace to be consumed by roaring flames. Toss it in the BBQ or backyard fire pit. Light it with a candle and gently lay it in a big ceramic bowl or a pot in the sink, anywhere that is safe.
- As what is no longer serving you goes up in a puff of smoke, let the heavy weight of it disappear too. Let go of that burden, that baggage you no longer want or need! Say to yourself, “I fully release and let this go!” With this simple ritual you will have opened up a clear space to bring in something new.
2. Get your energy going with intentions. Now free of the old, continue the momentum and write down what you do want. Start with the words “I intend …” An intention, according to Merriam Webster, is “the thing that you plan to do or achieve; an aim or purpose.” It is different than a resolution in that it carries a creative spark, an energy behind it that can inspire action.
As you think about what you intend for this year, keep your list short and simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself by listing too many things to change or improve. Be purposeful and realistic as you decide what you can and will commit to.
To get motivated to take action, you may also want to explore the answers to these questions:
- Why is making this change important to me?
- If I were outrageously successful at making this change, what would my life look like?
- What do I need to think, feel, do or believe to get the result I want?
- What small, simple, action do I need to start with to make it happen?
By clearing away what no longer serves you, gaining clarity around what you do want, and identifying a first small step to make it happen, you are already on your way!
To your abundant success, and may this year exceed your wildest intentions!12