Everybody loves New Years Resolutions.
This year is going to the year, we tell ourselves. The year we take the plunge in our careers, we get ultra buff and fit- we publish our first books!
This year will be different: time to achieve some awesome stuff.
Or maybe you set these exact same resolutions last year.
Because although setting New Years Resolutions can temporarily mobilize our willpower, we all know willpower is a moving target.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t set New Years Resolutions.
Using the dawn of a brand new year is an ideal way to capitalize on a feeling of a fresh page and new beginnings. There is a reason that the ritual has stood the test of time.
I’m only saying that the process of designing a future isn’t one you can just do on the fly. It takes knowing yourself to be able to set the right intentions that allow you to make some meaningful progress next year.
Below are some thoughts intended to help steer you through the process. (Here is a related post about goal-setting.)
between Christmas and New Year stock-taking
Between Christmas and New Year is the ideal time to get concrete about how you want to spend the time in 2017.
If you haven’t given it a single thought before now, then this will be challenging. But maybe like me you have been learning from life, and editing and updating your preferences as you go. In which case, it won’t be too hard.
At the beginning of this week, set the general goal of having some clear intentions recorded in your notepad by the end of the week.
For me this year, I have the following headings/categories:
- personal growth
For each life area, I tend to have three or four bullet points of intentions. Or sometimes just one.
Where you focus your intentions depends on what areas of your life are strongest and what areas you see as the biggest growth areas. Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Buckets is a useful tool if you need help with making that assessment.
designing a future – thought and belief
There is a simple way you can look the process of designing a future: you can say it has two elements. Those are thought – and belief. Action flows from these two.
So designing a future takes (relatively lucid) thought. We need to be clear on our direction of travel.
After that, it is simply continuous constructive thinking. (We also need to deal with the counter-forces in the form of resistance, self-doubt and procrastination. But that is a whole different can of worms.)
if you’re feeling unsure about everything
Feeling unsure about how we want the future to look can feel heavy and paralyzing.
If you feel overwhelmed at the idea of New Years Resolutions, then maybe your next steps are just to prioritize getting clarity in your life and feeling connected to purpose again.
Getting clarity involves a finely tuned balance between trimming the fat from life and filling it up again with meaningful pursuits.
I have written before about how pursuing simplicity has helped me to live a more purposeful life. Perhaps you can design some intentions around simplifying or descaling. You could also try a bit of consciousness cleansing for January 2017.
Also consider what you would ideally like to do more of. Perhaps you have the simple unmet desire to do more reading or art work. When can these things be added in?
Feeling like yourself again is where clear thought starts.
But Rome wasn’t built on thought alone. It needed to be accompanied by belief.
This is the reason why those first few pounds are the hardest to lose. When you have already lost a few pounds, you are spurred on to lose the rest of the weight. Belief snowballs to create a momentum that is unstoppable.
When thought is accompanied by belief, then not realizing our intentions gets harder.
So as you create your intentions, ask yourself: do you have the belief that you can go do them?
what if you lack self-belief?
Say you have the goal or intention of writing a book, but really deep down you lack the belief that you can. What actions can you take to improve your faith in yourself? Make those actions the intentions for the early part of the year.
We improve on our personal power, self confidence and belief by overcoming adversity – and often times, that means overcoming ourselves.
Here are a few questions to inspire you with your intentions-setting process.
- what was good from this year? list three or four things.
- what didn’t work out so well?
- what were the year’s mistakes?
- what were the year’s largest accomplishments?
- imagine yourself 12 months from now. What things or experiences would you be most gratified with that you did?
- what obstacles do you envisage?
- how would you like to grow personally?
- how excited do you feel about your intentions?
- what other feelings to you have about the intention?
- what do you want to change in the area of your health; your lifestyle and habits; connection and relationships; and your career/finances?
- are you feeling unsure about a large area of life? what would help you to find clarity?
Designing a future can and should be fun.
It is both important and not important at the same time. We do not know what the year will bring. Part of the fun is staying open to possibility.
Try not to take things too seriously.
Here is a recap of the key things in designing your future at the end of the year:
- Remind yourself of the power of thought and word. Do not live like your thoughts don’t matter! What you write on a page will mean nothing if your mind is a war-zone of conflicting thoughts and ideals.
- If you feel overwhelmed and unsure, then prioritize getting clarity in your life. Pursue simplicity and fulfilling your simple desires for how to spend the time.
- Give your self-belief a check up.
- Incorporate lessons from this year, and let them guide your intentions.
- Make sure it’s a list that you feel good about!