Well you knew I couldn’t resist an opportunity to re-post this sing along. We first sang along with Kris Kringle and spoke about change in our discussion this summer You put one foot in front of the other…. Our discussion back then is even more apropos as the year comes to a close. New Year’s resolutions are beginning to be all the buzz. It’s about this time of year when people begin to talk about the things that are on the list for change next year. I don’t support such silly talk. What you say? A health coach and social worker who doesn’t support people making changes? Yes, I say, well sort of anyway. I think that using the words “New Year’s resolutions” connotes things that we a) make out of a feeling that we SHOULD make them and b) they are things that we say we will do but either we never do them or by February we stop doing them. We will often then beat up on ourselves because we have, once again, not stuck to said resolutions and therefore are a bad, very bad person. So no I do not support that you do that to yourself. Instead, I love this time of year for taking stock of what went well, what I would like to leave behind, what I want to bring into the New Year and what I would like to manifest that is new. I like to call the new stuff “intentions” I know, a little new agey but it feels like just the right fit. Two web definitions of the word intention are “a thing intended; an aim or plan” and….my favorite…drumroll please…”the healing process of a wound.” When we set New Year’s resolutions they quite often are things that we are wanting to change because part of doing so would be a cleansing or healing process. People often think about things such as losing weight, exercising, sometimes career goals, employment opportunities or relationship issues. Sometimes people think of bringing something new into their life like a particular hobby whether new or old. The end of the year, holidays brewing, brings up a lot of emotions as we previously discussed in our last chat ‘Tis the Season to Begin Again. These emotions often cause us to reflect and take stock over the way in which we are living our lives. All this is very good stuff until we load on a whole host of guilt and shame on top of those reflections. This is what changes an intention into a resolution. Ahhhh you say, maybe this is why they have become a joke. Resolutions are often related with guilt and shame but intentions have the ring of hope and wellness.
Last night, I watched a great Ted talk full of the hope of change and well being, Matt Cutts Try something New for 30 Days.
Cutts’ enthusiasm for life and embracing change is admirable. He shared the various 30 Day Challenges that he has done and how they have improved his life. Studies done in the past state that it takes 21 days to create a new habit or let go of an old one. For some change may take longer but one thing we do know is it is important how you start out. Starting down the change path stronger is more likely to allow you to carry the change out then having one foot in and one foot out. An article in the Huffington Post written by Gretchen Rubin of “The Happiness Project” fame (see many posts from early this summer) discusses six questions that you should ask yourself when setting intentions. They are 1) What makes me happy? 2) What is a concrete action that would bring change? 3) Do I like adding things in or taking them out? 4) Am I starting small enough? 5) How will I keep myself accountable? and 6) Is there anything that is weighing down my happiness? All excellent clear and concise questions but my favorite is about keeping things small. One thing that I always suggest to my clients is to “under promise,” to yourself and others, when making changes. We want to shoot for the big glamorous dramatic change to make a statement of who we have become. While this temptation is there, it is highly unlikely that you will become this new self immediately. To me this feels like a set up and like taking the proverbial bat and hitting yourself upside the head over and over again. Ooo that hurts! It is much kinder and gentler to acknowledge just how hard changing can be and take it easier on yourself. Under promising takes those big over estimated “shoulds” and brings them down to cans. When we set manageable goals we are much more likely to have success. This helps us to learn mastery. Mastery makes us feel strong: giving the notion that anything is possible. Think about it, if you are trying to give something up you already have a loss there. If you go about letting go of this soon to be old behavior by a method that sets you up for another loss you have a lose lose. That NEVER feels good. But if you go about letting go little by little by little, you are far more likely to stick with continuing to let go. Ahhhh now does’t that sound like something worth celebrating? Change is a process and it can be fun if we allow it to be.
Enjoy this opportunity to reflect in a way that really feels good for you. Take time to rest, meditate and be still within the whirl wind around you. Should you decide to set goals for the new year, allow them to be the best of intentions that warm you all the way to your soul. Allow them to be smaller than small because those little goals begin to build as you move forward. Oh ya, and spread the word FORGET RESOLUTIONS, EMBRACE INTENTIONS!Cheers!