This article was originally published by The Creative Coast.
Those of you who have been reading me for a while know that I am not a fan of making resolutions. I don’t think resolutions work. In fact, I think that we set ourselves up for failure more often than not when we make grand resolutions. The grander they are, the quicker we fail.
What has worked for me and my clients is to determine what we want our life to look like, how we want to feel, and to take tiny steps to get us there. Intentions not resolutions. Imagine the freedom of knowing how you want to feel and then, day by day adding in more and more of the actions that bring that feeling into your life. When we build towards how we want to feel there is so much more creativity and positivity.
Think of it this way, let’s say you want to feel calmer. Your life right now feels more frantic than peaceful and that is wearing on you, big time. Instead of trying to rid yourself of the things that make you feel frantic imagine if, instead, you added into your day things that are calming for you. A ten minute break over a cup of tea in a quiet place, or outside on a nice day. Making time for a long, hot bath at the end of the day, or maybe just a quick check-in call with the calmest person you know, the one who always helps you put things into perspective.
Even those of us who feel that we can’t possibly add another thing in can do the things we already do with more focus. More focus equals more impact. So the cup of tea you would have anyway feels more special and grounding. The shower that you would take as part of your normal routine feels like more of a break. So even if your day is crammed full you can still find the feeling we are after with just a small tweak of our attention.
What we can forget in the hustle of life is that we already know what helps us get to the feeling we want. We can choose to make those things a part of our day whenever we want. By the way, if you think you don’t know what gives you the feeling you desire, you do. Just take your mind back to the last time you felt the way you want to feel and recall what you were doing. It’s still there, you just may have to do a little bit of excavation.
Notice how none of these steps is big? Big steps (sometimes also called resolutions) set us up for failure when we miss a day of exercise, smoke the cigarette, eat the cookie, or whatever thing it is we have vowed that we were never going to do again. So instead of the grand gesture try these simple steps.
- Get Clear: Instead of making resolutions how about looking at your life, or just one piece of it – maybe relationships, work or money. Take that area of your life think about how you want to feel and what is standing between you and having that feeling be the norm. Create as clear a vision as you can for what you want in that part of your life and then deconstruct it. Work backwards from the felling and take it apart, piece by piece, to the smallest steps you can imagine that will get you to that feeling.
- Break It Down: Let’s use money as an example. If you want to save money but have been unable to do so in the past think, first and foremost, about why you want to save money. Is it for a home, or a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit? Maybe you want to have a sense of financial stability that you don’t have right now. Whatever your motivation, get as clear about your “why” as you can. Your “why” will help keep you on track and help you get back on the path if you falter.
- Rinse and Repeat: Okay, you’ve got your “why” – great! Now instead of deciding that you are going to save $100 a week when you’ve never put aside a cent, how about you decide to forgo one expensive coffee a week, or have one less pedicure a month, and put that money in a jar labeled HOME, TRIP, SECURITY, whatever your goal is. Then, when you’ve successfully accomplished that pattern long enough that it no longer feels like a small step, take another step, then another and watch the effect snowball.
This method works with anything you want to achieve. The key is clarity. Knowing what it is that you want, how it is that you want to feel, and taking steps towards that regularly is the difference between frustration and satisfaction.
To help my clients get to where they want to be and how they want to feel I was inspired to write The Playbook: Creating the Life You Want. It’s full of thought provoking questions, envisioning trees to help you design your great life, add in room to color and dream. The Playbook is a gentle yet powerful alternative to resolutions. It’s also a great gift! It’s available on Amazon, here’s the link: The Playbook: Creating the Life You Want.
The New Year is coming. This year instead of making resolutions try creating intentions and see how far you go.