How many of the goals and resolutions that you set last January did you actually achieve?
If you’re like most people, you don’t even want to think about it!
You created some grand plans, got all excited about them and made some changes. And somewhere around the middle of February (or sooner) it all seemed too hard and you slipped back to life as you knew it.
How many years have you repeated this cycle? Or did you give up on the whole process a while ago?
I‘m proposing a very different way of crafting an awesome new year – and life – for yourself. It has nothing to do with goals and everything to do with loving your life and being happy.
As crazy as it seems, you may accomplish much more using this approach.
The Problem with Goals
We’re taught to set clearly defined goals with deadlines so that we can reverse-engineer the process to achieve them by the designated date.
What usually happens? We set a goal with a date, possibly design the actions that we must take to meet this goal and, if we’re really dedicated, actually take some of those first few steps. While we’re taking those steps, we’re intensely focused on our goal, frequently to the exclusion of some other aspects of our lives.
Then life gets in the way and implementing these new actions into our routine seems too difficult. We lose our motivation and the whole thing falls apart.
Then we beat ourselves up for not following through – again.
Despite this negative experience, we repeat it over and over thinking that “this time will be different.”
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein
This Time Is Different
Before setting any goals or even thinking of your future, you need to get clear on what your core values are.
Without knowing your core values, you’re a ship without a sail, blown aimlessly by any wind that comes by. What are you all about? Who are you? What do you stand for? What are the most important things in your life?
Your values are your base, your core. These are the things that ground all your decisions and actions.
Values are things like love, contribution, security, adventure, passion, success. These are ways of feeling.
Values are not things like family, notoriety or money. These are things we have that lead to feelings. Consider why you want those things. What do you want to feel?
Once you get very clear on your values, making decisions about what to do with your life becomes much easier.
If something isn’t in alignment with your values, why would you do it?
Getting Rid of Goals
With your values established, think about the goals you’ve had and ask yourself why you want to achieve them.
How do you want to feel by achieving a goal?
Focus on feeling that feeling in the present – right now. Visualize and feel yourself having already achieved your goal. Carry that feeling with you every day.
Also think of how every aspect of your life would be when you achieve your goal. What would your average day be like? How would your moment-to-moment decisions be different than the ones you make now?
Keeping that “new you” in mind throughout your day, act out your average new day each day.
With this practice, you’re not focused on an end goal that’s “out there.” You’re focusing on what you’re doing in the present moment. You’re focusing on the choices you’re making throughout your day.
The things you do all day are your habits. Your habits create your results and your life.
If you continue to practice your old habits, you’ll never achieve a different future. Your future will look like today.
Set daily intentions about how you want to feel and the kind of person you want to be.
Is the kind of person you want to be the same person who would achieve the goals you’re thinking of? If not, something about the picture needs to change.
Your new habits and lifestyle are your new normal. Knowing this, make sure you choose things that you love, things you enjoy, things that are fun for you.
See and Feel Your Vision Daily
In your mind’s eye, see and feel your new you every day. What are you doing? What are you wearing? Who do you spend time with? What do you eat? How do you spend your time?
Spend a few minutes every day as you’re waking up in the morning, while you’re taking a shower and as you fall asleep at night visualizing and feeling the new you.
Don’t compare where you are now to your vision. That usually creates judgments. Simply feel how great your new you feels.
As you go through your day, notice all you can about yourself in the present moment. Does it match your vision yet?
If it does, celebrate and make your next choice something that further supports your vision and current state.
If it doesn’t, simply make your next choice as if you had already achieved your vision and you’re acting to maintain that vision. No judgments.
Choose. Act. Notice your results. Rinse & repeat.
Before making a choice, answer the question, “Is this in alignment with my values and my ‘new me’?”
Each day, take baby steps toward being and feeling your new you. You probably won’t see big changes overnight. Big, lasting change happens in baby steps taken consistently, persistently and with patience.
The Mindful Way
How does all this relate to mindfulness?
Mindfulness means slowing down to notice all the little things inside and around you without judgment.
In the process of trying to achieve goals, we tend to throw mindfulness out the window because we’re so focused on where we want to be that we don’t notice where we are.
Mindfulness invites us to be in the present moment, notice what’s right in our lives, be grateful for those things and feel good.
Goals focus us on what we don’t have, where we’re lacking and what’s wrong with our lives. They can reinforce those feelings of “not enough” and “not good enough.”
If you have a goal to lose a certain amount of weight, you tend to focus on the pounds yet to be lost, how hard that will be and how far into the future the results may or may not happen.
When (or if) you achieve your goal, you stop doing the things that got you to your goal because you look at it as a process to get you to an end point. Once you’re at your goal, you no longer feel that the process is necessary and you revert to your old habits that created the extra weight.
Using the mindful approach, you feel and visualize your thinner self each day and make choices that the thinner you would make. Your choices are based on “who you are” instead of the actions that should be taken to achieve a result.
With the mindful approach, there is no end point.
You’re creating new habits, a new life, a new you that lasts. You do it because it’s who you are and, because of that, you enjoy it.
Here are the steps to freeing yourself from the destructive nature of goals and actually making your dreams happen:
1. Determine what your core values are.
What are the feelings that are the most important to you? These drive all your thoughts, choices and actions. These determine who you are.
2. Write a vividly detailed description of your new average day.
Where do you live? What do you do all day and night? Who do you spend time with? What, where and how do you eat? What do you wear? What do you see, smell, hear and feel throughout your day? And, most importantly, how do you feel throughout your day?
3. Each day, set an intention for how you want to feel and who you want to be.
As you make choices, notice whether they’re in alignment with your values and your intentions.
4. Continue to monitor and review
Notice whether your intentions, thoughts, feelings and actions are moving you closer to your “new you.”
Without judging your past thoughts or actions, notice what’s working and do more of that. Notice what’s not working and try something different.
There is no failure. There are only experiments that either work and bring you closer to your vision or don’t work and you learn from them.
Life is a never-ending journey that’s meant to be enjoyed. There’s no race to the finish. There’s no prize for crossing off the most goals from a list.
Determine the kind of person you want to be and live each day as that person would. Using this approach you’ll achieve all those goals and so much more, enjoying every step of the way.
How do YOU want to live today and every day?
Download her FREE Mindful Living Guide and learn how you can invite more joy, peace and happiness into your life.
Check out her new Mindful Body Program, a comprehensive program that uses mindfulness principles to transform how you think about diet, exercise and health. It shows you how fun it is to be healthy!