In this time of rest, renewing and resetting, we come to a reflective space that allows us to ponder on our lives and reflect on what is truly important to us.
How have I lived my life so far? Have I lived with purpose? Has my work provided fruit? Have I put my best foot forward? Am I happy? Why do I do what I do?
For some people they may want a 180 change, others notice they are providing fruit, but just need to prune their branches to help it flourish to its potential.
Embark on a journey to craft meaningful resolutions. Reflect on the past, unveil the roots of your goals, strategise for challenges, track progress, build community and visualise your desired future. Make meaningful resolutions to foster lasting change in various dimensions of your life!
Understanding Resolutions: How they Differ from Goals
Ever wondered why bother with resolutions when you can pursue general goals throughout the year and steadily accomplishing them one by one? Resolutions provide us a space to look at the bigger picture of our lives. Goals are specific and measurable, resolutions provide us with a time for reflection, it provides a foundation for the emergence of smaller goals. A sense of purpose and meaning can be birthed from a resolution. Research suggests that having goals with purpose and meaning provide more fulfilment and overall life satisfaction. It gives way for intrinsic motivation that is inspired by our values and passions. Resolutions are the foundation for inspiration and creativity to take place.
Reflect on your PAST to shape your FUTURE
The first step to making a resolution is self-reflection and awareness. Create a space to ponder on your life journey so far and how you have shown up. Examine the details of your past experiences—what's worked well and what no longer aligns with your personal growth? Are there new perspectives or unexplored paths you'd like to consider?
A way to review your overall well-being is to break it down into different parts, encompassing the physical, familial, social, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, occupational, and environmental aspects.
When we water each dimension, it leads to a more balanced lifestyle, and as one part falls short, the others help you push through fostering greater resilience.
Some people may like to journal reflectively on each part. Others who are more visual might like to draw their lives using a metaphor.
A metaphor which is helpful is picturing your life as a set of islands. Your present is the first island, filled with your thoughts, beliefs, habits, relationships, and the world around you, it is a snapshot of your current life. The second island is your ideal future. Imagine it as a place reflecting your dreams and the life you want to lead. Use the dimensions of "wellness" to reflect on your past and current island. Keep these pictures vibrant and detailed, in order to breathe life into your goals and dreams, formulating a clear map to navigate challenges. Crafting rich descriptions of your future, rooted in a realistic and specific vision, not only enhances your ability to tackle obstacles but also forms the bedrock of greater resilience in achieving goals.
How to make a Resolution Meaningful
Consider your resolutions as a tree. The root of the tree is the resolution, it is the deeper meaning from which your goals all take place. Some people may have a resolution, and no goals, some might have goals and no resolution. To discover these resolutions and goals you can work forwards or backwards.
If you start with goals and would like to uncover the resolution behind the goal, ask yourself one question "what difference would that make?” Continue to ask that question until you hit the soil of something deeper and intrinsic that your soul is longing for. Sometimes once we realise our true desires, we might go back to our goals and review them. For example, if the goal was to lose weight, the deeper desire may be to have confidence and with that confidence make more friends and feel more connected to the people around you. At the heart of it all we are not superficial beings, usually our base goals are symptoms of a deeper desire or need.
When commencing with a resolution, look at all the ways that resolution may branch out into smaller goals. To illustrate, if your resolution is to be healthy, you would look at your emotional, physical and spiritual health and all the things that contribute to that resolution, including habits, relationships, and supports.
After establishing the core framework of your resolution and goals, explore further techniques to transform your aspirations into vibrant achievable realities.
The Miracle Question:
The "miracle question" technique, utilized in solution-focused therapy, invites you to envision a scenario where your most hopeful aspirations materialize overnight. Imagine your best hope becoming true overnight and start to notice everything that would change.
An example would go like this: If you woke up tomorrow and you felt confident and loved yourself, what would be the first thing you would notice about yourself? How would you know the miracle had taken place? What would others notice about you? How would they know this miracle had taken place? How would you know that the other person had noticed that the miracle had taken place?
The essence of this exercise lies in living as if the envisioned miracle has already come to pass. Often, people wait for circumstances to change before embracing their hopes. Hopes can be realised by small changes to behaviour, routine and more.
Are you identifying recurring themes in your life that might be holding you back? For instance, perhaps fear has been a prevalent theme. Instead of leaving a void when shedding these themes, consciously replace them with something empowering. For instance, replace the theme of fear with courage—a willingness to speak up, to authentically express yourself despite challenges, to embrace risks, and to pursue those endeavours you've long desired. Each time you notice the old fear-based theme reappearing, actively adopt the new theme of courage you've chosen. When fear causes hesitation, remind yourself to "embrace courage." Consider what actions you'd take if courage guided you in that moment. Engage with your fears, encouraging them to make way for the new empowering theme of courage you've chosen.
Anticipating Challenges: Strategizing for Success
Once your goals and steps have been outlined, it is important to reflect on the things that may get in the way of achieving these goals. Would it be distractions, energy levels, environment, relationships or routine. In the realm of psychotherapy, a valuable exercise known as “the point of no return” aids in understanding the moment of vulnerability to unwanted inclinations. This exercise involves observing the sequence of events leading up to the pivotal moment. By identifying the actions preceding this moment, one can pinpoint the step that inevitably leads to the undesired habit. Once identified, interventions can be implemented at earlier stages to intercept this pattern.
For instance, imagine your goal is to exercise regularly but you often find yourself skipping workouts. By applying the "point of no return" exercise, you might notice that your inclination to skip exercise often stems from arriving home after work feeling tired and unmotivated. You recognize that this feeling prompts you to lie down on the couch, leading to skipping the workout entirely. Through this technique, you identify the pivotal moment—arriving home tired—and understand that it leads to the undesired habit of skipping exercise. To intervene, you decide to bring your workout clothes to work and head straight to the gym before arriving home.
The objective of this exercise is to observe all the actions that take place before the “point of no return”. Once you’ve Identified the action triggering your unwanted habit, place an intervention before reaching that point by observing the preceding steps.
Tracking your Journey for Lasting Motivation
In order to stay on top of your resolutions, it is important to track your progress. You may do this once a week or every day if you need to take more accountability with yourself.
The general consensus in psychology says it takes three weeks to build a habit, if you work on them daily. Therefore, it is recommended to do a personal review every three weeks to track your progress. Reflect on what is working well and what might need to change to help you arrive to your destination.
Ways to track progress:
Ratings: rate each part of your wellbeing out of ten, understand what a ten means to you. Write down your ideal in every category, and rate yourself according to the standard you have set.
Visualise: as per the example of the islands, where are you at in moving from the island you are currently in? Are you packing your bags, have your decided what you want to take with you and what you want to leave behind? Are you on the boat already waiting to set sail. Have you placed your journey on hold because there is a storm in your life and need to wait for a sunnier day? Are you already on your journey sailing?
Visual representations of tracking goals provide a different outlook and allow for more reflection and creativity. Visualising with metaphors can also increase problem solving abilities.
Building a Community of Support
While having an intrinsic sense of motivation is important, combining this with extrinsic support is where the magic happens. People who have a support to help them achieve their goals are increasingly more likely to achieve them. Not only does it help with achievement but it helps us build community and meaningful relationships which positively impacts our mental health.
Consider these questions: Who can you speak to about your goals, is there anyone that can check in with you and keep you accountable? Is there anyone that can help you achieve the direction you are wanting to head in? Are there people who you can exchange ideas with or help you reflect? Who else would be excited to hear about what you’re working towards?
The third stage of making a resolution once you have outlined the bigger picture and the smaller goals and steps you may need to take to achieve them are.
Visualise your Desired Future
Imagine your life at the end of the year, you have accomplished your resolution. What will your life look like? What difference will it make? How will you feel? Overall, how will it change your life?
Closing Insights: Navigating New Years Resolutions
Think of nurturing your goals as tending to a growing tree. Reflect on your progress over the year, set your resolution and goals, anticipate challenges, seek support, and imagine the moment when your goals are realized. Like caring for a young tree, nurture your aspirations with affection and dedication. Just as a well-cared-for tree grows strong, your dreams too will flourish and thrive.
As we embark on this new year, let us remember that resolutions serve as guiding stars, illuminating our paths toward personal growth and fulfilment. By distinguishing resolutions from goals, reflecting on our past experiences, and envisioning our ideal futures, we pave the way for meaningful change. Tracking progress, foreseeing obstacles, and fostering a supportive community act as pillars of strength along this journey. Embracing the deeper desires beneath our surface-level aspirations and persistently nurturing these resolutions with care and dedication allow us to flourish. As we strive to achieve our resolutions, let us not forget that the essence lies not just in the destination but also in the transformative journey we undertake toward becoming our best selves.
Cheers to a year of purposeful resolutions and profound self-discovery!