As we embark on another new year of life, I find myself experiencing a mixture of emotions about 2011. I’m excited about the possibilities of this New Year and inspired by the energy of creation that exists at this special time. Similar to last week, there is a magical quality to this first week of the New Year – lots of hope and positive anticipation.
At the same time, especially given the nature of 2010 and all the twists and turns last year took for me personally, so many people around me, and in the world, I find myself feeling a sense of trepidation about setting new goals and jumping right back into the mix of life and work.
As it relates to New Year’s “resolutions,” most people I know and have worked with over the years, including myself, have a somewhat funny or disempowered relationship to goal-setting for the New Year. Whether you spend lots of time and energy creating your New Year’s intentions or you decided years ago that you wouldn’t bother (since in years past by mid-January most of them have gone off the rails or out of your mind anyway); I don’t know too many people who are genuinely inspired, motivated, or empowered by their New Year’s resolutions in a sustainable and real way. How about you?
Here are some of the main reasons I think we aren’t authentically inspired by our goals or truly empowered to manifest them:
- Our “goals” are often about fixing what we think is wrong with us
- Once we set them, we feel a sense of pressure to make them happen
- We worry that we won’t accomplish or achieve what we want, and then we’ll feel like failures
- We don’t get the kind of support we really want and need
- We forget that our intentions are designed to support us, not stress us out
- We get too focused on the outcome and forget about the experience
- We allow competition and scarcity take over
- We get all excited about them at the beginning of the year, and then forget about them
For these and other reasons many us either don’t set powerful intentions for the New Year or we do so out of fear in a way that creates more stress in our lives. One of the best things we can do to shift our perspective about this and create an empowering relationship to our process of setting goals for 2011 is to understand some key distinctions – intentions, goals, and actions.
Intentions – Our intentions are states of being and authentic desires. In other words, we may have an intention to be peaceful, grateful, joyous, loving, successful, healthy, wealthy, or more. Our intentions are our high ideals and are usually at the root of our motivation for any of our specific goals (i.e. “why” we want to do, accomplish, or experience something). Most of us don’t really want goals like a new relationship, more money, or a fit body simply for the sake of those things themselves – we want them (or others) because of what we believe we will experience by having them in our life. By starting with our intentions, we get right to the source of what we truly want. Intentions are the core and the magic of all of our goals and desires.
Goals – Effective and powerful goals are ones that are specific and measurable. We want to be able to track our progress and know for sure if we are reaching our goals or not. This doesn’t have to be a competition (with others or ourselves) and doesn’t have to be filled with stress, pressure, shame, or guilt (which is sadly how we often relate to our results). Having our goals as specific and measurable just makes them clear and more likely to manifest. And, the paradox we have to always remember when setting and working on our goals is that we can’t be attached to the outcome – which will make us crazy and can take us off course with our real intentions. Our goals simply take our intentions and focus them on tangible outcomes in the world.
Actions – Creating action-oriented practices that support us in manifesting our goals and intentions is an essential daily, weekly, and monthly process of our success and fulfillment. Coming up with action plans that inspire us, connect to the goals we’re working on, and fulfill our intentions is vital to all of this. This is where the rubber meets the road, and is often the place where things break down for us. The breakdown with actions usually has more to do with a lack of support and accountability (which then allows us to let circumstances take over and causes us to lose focus) than it does with any “failure” or “weakness” on our part. Having practices that support us and help us take the baby steps needed to manifest our goals and intentions is such an important piece of puzzle.
Here is an example of how this could look in a specific area of life. Let’s say you have a desire to make more money (which is a very common one that many of us have, especially these days). Start with your intention. For example, “My intention is to experience a real sense of abundance, peace, and freedom with money and to easily manifest income.” Then create a specific measurable result-oriented goal. “I will generate $100,000 by 12/31/2011.” The next step is to come up with a few related actions/practices. “I will read three or more books this year on manifesting money. I will set up two or more meetings per month to talk to people about new money-making ideas. I will make a plan each month for specific things I can do to increase my income.”
The final piece of the process is creating some kind of regular accountability and support structure for this. You can hire a coach, join a mastermind group, create a success/ accountability partnership with a friend, and more. Having someone or a group of people you make commitments to and whom you empower to hold you accountable will make all the difference in the world.
Have fun with this. Don’t take it or yourself too seriously…it’s just life, you’re allowed to make mistakes, screw things up, and fall down (which we all do and always will). Be kind to yourself in this process and in this New Year. And, when we remember that our intentions (those states of being and authentic desires) are what we are truly after (not the specific outcomes or actions), it can allow us to take the pressure off of ourselves, have more fun, and trust that things will manifest as they are meant to – especially if we open up and let them show up!