I have a challenge for you today.
Pull up your list of 2018 resolutions, or write out an unfiltered list of things you've been thinking about doing this next year.
Once you've got that, take an honest look at what you've written, and identify the tone underneath it.
How are you talking about yourself and your actions?
Is there any part of you that is coming from the place of needing to fix yourself? Any part of you that doesn't feel like you are good or worthy enough right now? If so, I'm gonna have you pause right there.
For years, I unknowingly wrote resolutions that included "should's" and a hint of frustration. Phrases like "finally start exercising regularly" or "stop doing x, y, and z" littered my list of to-do's. Can you feel how the energy behind these two examples is uninspiring and laden with disappointment? I could. And it didn't feel good.
Here's the truth: You are already whole. You don't need fixing. And you have always been doing the best you can, just as you are in this very moment.
I'm all for personal growth and healing and unleashing the greatness within. This is what I spend my life doing and helping others do, and I think it's one of the most rewarding ways a person can spend their time.
But there is a difference between working on yourself from a place of guilt or shame about all the things you haven't done, and working on yourself from a place of acceptance and gentleness.
Yes, gentleness. What went through your mind when you read that? Did you feel any emotion well up inside? The first time I considered inviting gentleness into my to-do's, I teared up with relief — and also some sadness when I realized how harshly I'd been relating to myself.
I had never even considered a kinder way of going about creating things in my life. I was used to a more rigid, achievement-driven process where I basically pressured myself into moving forward.
Can you relate? Do you ever use pressure as a means of getting things done?
If so, are you open to trying another way?
One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Michael Bernard Beckwith. He says: "pain pushes until the vision pulls." When you're in that pressure-driven place, your pain is pushing you forward. So by default, that means you are experiencing some degree of pain regularly.
What if it could be easier? What if what you wanted could gently pull you forward? Thankfully, it can.
You can choose an easier way right now. One simple (and timely) way to start is by loosening the grip on your 2018 resolutions. I'm not a big fan of setting traditional resolutions. To me they've always turned into a list of to-do's meant to take place over the course of a year, which felt way too overwhelming. Instead, I personally prefer setting overarching intentions for the year, and then creating and committing to actionable steps on a smaller weekly or monthly scale that align with them.
The key is infusing your intentions with the feelings you want to experience.
Here's a short process you can use to practice this:
- Start by choosing 3 areas of your life that you want to be priorities this year. For me, these three areas are my health, my relationships, and my business.
- Choose at least one feeling that you want to experience alongside each area. For example:
- Health - vitality, strength
- Relationships - connection, community
- Business - service, joy
- Put these areas and the feeling(s) you come up with on a sticky note or on a digital note on your laptop — somewhere you will see them every day.
- Start by choosing one small, specific action in ONE of the areas. Something that can be completed in 20 minutes. Make sure it's phased positively (i.e. "do yoga Monday AM for 20 minutes" vs. "don't sleep in on Monday").
- Commit to this step, and keep the feeling associated with this area of your life in the forefront of your mind. For me, I'll be keeping vitality and strength top-of-mind as motivation to follow through with my morning yoga routine.
- Repeat with additional small steps, one at a time, until you feel comfortable adding more.
- Refer to your sticky note reminder daily, and allow it to guide your daily and weekly planning.
If you do this exercise, I'd love to hear what your sticky note says too, as well as any action steps you've got planned.
I'm cheering you on and wishing you the best year yet!