How to start the New Year gracefully- the Essential Guide
Too often, we rush through our next year goals without too many thoughts, probably because we know that probably by Valentine’s Day our good intentions will be out the window. Going back to the gym, losing five pounds, or being more patient with the kids is not enough to make us tick. We need more. That is when starting the New Year gracefully comes into play.
If you were like me, the last few days off before Christmas Eve were spent finishing up some action items on my list.
- Some of you may have experienced:
- Last minute gift buying or making;
- Cleaning the house to be ready for guests;
- Doing anything that if food related on time for the celebration: menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking;
- Packing and traveling to join family or friends.
If you are lucky, you may have had a few days in between the two holidays to recuperate. If you are not like me, a mompreneur, then, chances are you need to show up at work. Then, New Year’s Eve comes and you realized you had no time to ponder about last year’s accomplishments let alone dream about the year to come!
While at a fun family retreat in the snow for few days, I was finally able to plunge, at night, in the inner work I was craving for. Now instead of feeling erratic about trying to work on goal planning here and there, I took the time to really envision how I wanted to do it.
But why did I mention doing it with grace? First we need to agree on a definition. If you look at the definition of graceful in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, graceful is defined as: displaying grace in form or action: pleasing or attractive in line, proportion, or movement. To me, a graceful movement is slow, well thought of, and adds beauty and emotions.
I will use my weekly posts for all of January to share with you my process. This will give us time to work on one phase each week, should you want to experiment alongside with me. I am welcoming you to share with me as well your thoughts, suggestions and questions as we are all navigating together in planning to make 2013 our best year ever.
We have a choice: whether we are fast paced and we might not fulfill our dreams or we take our time and do something meaningful and long lasting. I choose the later. After many years of writing goals, I knew that this year was different. I needed to reinvent my goal making process. I read a lot about what others had to say about this subject and decided to experiment to make it be something that makes sense with whom I become. It takes longer to go through it but it is worth the excitement it creates in me when looking at what is ahead. Because it is longer, I need to take it slowly so as to have time to integrate my thoughts to each part of it. This is the foundation for a great year. Goal making is like tracing the map for your new venture. If you leave for your trip without knowing where you are and where you want to go you will be wandering… and wondering where all these dreams went.
Well thought of
When we pace our work, we meet the necessity of something well done, as all meaningful work brings us closer to who we are. Remember that the destination is not all that matters. Enjoying the journey is even more crucial (more on this later). It is one thing to map out where you want to go but one should not forget the journey. What would be the point in life if it was only to go from point A to point B? What really makes us vibrant and alive is the experience we have during our travel. We can be so enthralled in our goal that we forget why in the first place this is where we wanted to go. What makes the mount Everest (whatever your mount Everest is) quite a thrill is not to touch the tip of the mountain as much as the challenge of every step and all it encompasses: the physical, mental and emotional uneasiness and joy. That which you go through, makes who you are.
For this reason, we will divide the work in chunk as weeks go by. By the end of January, we will have a full 11 months to get the ball rolling and make it happens-FOR REAL.
Beauty is a necessity more than we can think of. Anyone had fallen in love with a piece of art, a performance, a song or a poem at some point of the other. Beauty makes this journey fun and inspiring. Find the artist in you and get out your color pencils, or crayons is that is all you have and make sure to keep them handy to add some color to your intentions, hence your life, during the process. Finding inspiring images, pictures or quotes to make a visualization board will help those of us who are visuals. An image is worth a thousand words….
You will also see how important the words you chose will be. An online dictionary or the good old paper version will be needed. Beauty and peace start in our thoughts, in our words and in our hearts. Precision is key here.
Let’s talk about the real deal. Resolutions usually don’t work as all we do is stating something and forgetting about it. Goals are what we are used to, but do they seem like fun? Inspiring? I tried so many years to state goals and if they are not connected with feelings, chances are we won’t go that far either. Goal setting is mostly a mechanical process where only the mind is involved. We are one, mind, body and soul, and cannot disconnect any of these parts. To really get to the destination while having some great fun during the trip, we need to pay attention to feelings and thoughts. Then good emotions will surface and makes you want to stick to your intentions all year long.
Wordings and a few details
Have you notice I said intentions? Why is so? Goals are only focusing on the destination while intentions are what they say they are, an intent, which means they are not as rigid. When setting goals and not achieving them we either feel like a failure, guilty or find many excuses why it did not work. When you intend something, you give yourself some slack, acknowledging that life is full of surprises and that the only constant in life is CHANGE. What if during your traveling experience you got lost but found the most amazing place to stop by, and on top of that, you met great people that became friends? This was not part of your goal… Well should you beat yourself up for this happenstance? This is life and it will happen. I promise.
Setting intentions does not mean you are complacent about getting to your destination. It is a reminder that life happens and we need to be able to let go and allow ourselves some flexibility on our schedule. Once your intentions are set, based on the feelings you want in your life, then emotions will surge. Then the goals are somewhat related to have these feelings in your life as many times as possible. More on that later this month. Keep reading if you want to try out or learn about my experiment this month as we are getting clarity for 2013.
Week one: Mapping where you are and where you want to go
This type of exercise is best done when you have some uninterrupted time on your own. Whatever your style is, wine cheese and crackers or coffee/tea and dark chocolate, make this enjoyable. This is your life after all!
First you need to describe your current life, not a rosy picture, not a dark one either. You need the plain truth. Be as descriptive as possible about all areas of your life. There are as many ways to divide them as there are people on earth, but mostly we can define these as:
- Wealth (money, material goals, lifestyle and career);
- Body (health, nutrition, exercise etc);
- Mind (self development, education, hobbies);
- Soul (religion, spirituality, mindful practices, inner self);
- Connectedness (family, spouse or life partner, friends, nature, pets, strangers, the universe)
Make sure you also explain how you feel, your likes and dislikes and why.
Then redo the exercise by projecting yourself in the future. It helps to have a five year view, as what we dream of might not be achievable in a year, thus seeming unrealistic. Remember, there are no unrealistic dreams, only unrealistic time frames Then, once this is done, it is easier to see how this could be broken down in one year intentions. But let’s wait! We want to take it slow because we are doing this with grace. We need to ponder about it, add beauty and emotions to it.
You can start capturing pictures of your dreamed life by categories either by clipping magazines or browsing on the web. Pinterest is very inspirational. Cut them out and keep them on a file or copy and paste on a document and save it for now.
Don’t hesitate to connect with me with questions and comments. If you get stuck I am here to help!