I took a little survey of some colleagues and acquaintances recently about New Year Resolutions, specifically asking what - if anything - everyone intended to do in the coming year. There were the obligatory "eat better" and "go to the gym more/ go to the gym once" resolutions, and even a "quit smoking"... all of which were said with a tone of begrudging, a sense of loss of an important or enjoyable element of their lives. (After all, Christmas cookies and laying on the couch can be a lot more fun than the opposite, right?)
But it got me thinking: why do our resolutions need to be punishing? Why do we need to feel like we're taking something out of our lives, rather than taking an opportunity to add something in? With a few simple shifts, these little jabs at ourselves ("I made some bad choices in 2013, didn't I?") can become powerful statements of what we'd like to become or the kinds of qualities we'd like to see cropping up in our lives, packing in the awesomeness in new and fulfilling ways.
Instead of making a list of all things we feel we should do in the coming year (drink less coffee, go to bed earlier, complain less, make more money), let's focus on the qualities we'd like to see fill our year and, by consequence, the kind of person we would like to be for the year.
This could mean all kinds of qualities: kind, open, positive, hardworking, calm, strong, focused, purposeful, loving, giving... whatever speaks to you. Create a goal around that word and give some thought to what it would bring to your world.
For instance, if drinking less coffee is your resolution, think about why you're drinking all the coffee you are in the first place. Are you overtired? Poorly rested? Needing some distraction? Set an intention to make kind choices for your body and to remove the things from your world that needlessly drain your energy. If going to the gym more often is your goal, come up with a quality that represents that energy for you: forward moving? In motion? Grounded? Strong? Set your intention to carry this quality with you through the year and observe how it can impact different parts of your life. You might just find yourself not only attending more group workouts, but taking the stairs and walking instead of driving more often.
Assigning a positive word to the kind of year we'd like to have takes nothing away from our lives - we don't have to give up on anything or deal with that ever-scary Fear of Missing Out. Instead, we gain something personal and powerful to inform our choices.
When it comes to resolutions, quality wins out. Carry your motivating little adjective with you into 2014 and see where it takes you!
Have a wonderful start to 2014!
P.S. Looking to take your intentions to a whole new level of awesome? Join Matt Corker and I on January 14th to Create Your Best 2014 (and Beyond). Details (and link to register) are here.