New Year's Resolutions, do you or don't you?
When it comes to New Year's Resolutions there tends to be mixed feelings; some people love them and are good at setting them and achieving them, some set them with the best intentions but after a few months life gets in the way and they forget about them, and others just don't entertain them at all. Personally, I don't have resolutions, but I do start the year by setting some goals.
Goal setting is something that I do find hard, setting the goal itself I don't find challenging and actually, I look back at the end of the year to see that, almost to my surprise, I have achieved my goals. Although not so much for 2020, I think there were a few too many spanners thrown in the works for most of us to achieve our original goals! And that is where the difficulty can begin for me, the pressure to achieve can often mean I forget to enjoy the process and end up totally overwhelmed with 'things' to do. I've really learnt over the last couple of years to not beat myself up if things don't work out the way I planned or if I don't achieve a goal in the given time frame. I'm a big believer that everything happens for a reason and when the time is right. You can always adjust the time frame and even change the goal if six months down the line it's not the direction that you want to take any longer. Goals should be flexible. Things happen that are way outside of our control (like a global pandemic...) so we have to be able to adapt to fit the situation. I'm not saying don't have a time frame, just remember that the world isn't going to end because the date has arrived and you aren't there yet! Plus, some days, it's just really hard to find the motivation to do anything! Definitely not referring to the fact it's cold, grey and snowy outside at present and I basically waved at my horses and left today instead of doing what I had planned because I didn't want to be out there a second longer....
Some people use the SMART criteria for goal setting, personally I would rather stab my eyes out with a fork. But you do you. If SMART works for you, great, use it. If not then do whatever works for you. I use a Passion Planner and that contains a 'Passion Roadmap' that allows you to make a wish list of things you want to do, have or be in 3 months, 1 year, 3 years and a lifetime and then it helps you to break that wish list down and choose a 'Game changer' or two and get more specific about time frame etc. if you want to. There is space every week in the diary to create mind maps and monitor your progress and at the end of each month you review how things went and what changes, if any you can make. I guess it's another way of using the SMART model but in a less rigid way. I just shudder when I hear SMART because it reminds me of working in the corporate world and having to go through the same process multiple times a year myself and with other employees to set 'goals' that in reality, none of us wanted to achieve because we were only there so we could receive a pay packet at the end of the month! And that's why I'm now self employed...ha! I have some months where I am rubbish and review nothing which can be followed by three months of reviewing things consistently, it doesn't matter, I don't beat myself up for it, I still have the goal in my mind and I still adapt if I need to.
Something that I've also seen discussed quite a lot this year is the idea of setting intentions instead of resolutions or goals (or as well as), and that's something that really speaks to me.
So what does it mean to set 'an intention'? Intention setting is a mindfulness practice. Melissa Eisler* describes an intention as 'a guiding principle for how you want to be, live and show up in the world'. An intention differs from a goal because it is not something that you evaluate or set a timeline for, it is an 'aim, a purpose, or attitude you'd be proud to commit to'. But like goals, you do need to revisit and remind yourself of an intention regularly and keep it at the forefront of your mind when you are going about your day to day life. Some people like to say their intentions out loud daily, read them daily or write them down daily. It is a good idea to keep them written somewhere where you will see them regularly, this then allows you to make decisions and plans with your intention in mind. Intentions should be positive, something that makes you feel good and aligns with your values. This year I have set myself two personal intentions alongside my business goals to help me to keep a positive mindset throughout the year and to stay grounded.
I guess what I'm saying is, do what works for you and don't feel bad because you're not doing things the way someone else would. And definitely don't beat yourself up because you haven't achieved your goal or, more likely, if you have been temporarily sidetracked/completely blindsided!
So what about you? Have you set goals, resolutions or intentions for the year?
N.B. Image is an example from Passion Planner, not my own.
*You can find out more about Melissa Eisler and setting intentions on her website. https://melissaeisler.com/intention-setting-101/