It is the time of year when we are bombarded with messages about goal setting and resolutions. It is built into us that when the calendar hits January our thoughts and conversations turn to “what I want to accomplish”.
Resistance, like the Borg, says in Star Trek, is futile. The message relentlessly seeps in. Even if I don’t want to do any goal setting, my mind begins to conjure up destinations and images of a more fit body, a better-organized workspace, eating all of those good organic healthy foods. Like a summer cold, it is like a virus that shows up inside of me.
A quick search of the top 10 resolutions for the new year reveals the following:
They also happen to be the top 10 resolutions that we fail to keep each year.
Most resolutions dissolve into resignation. It turns out that when we set these annual goals (for all the right reasons of course), we are also setting a bit of a trap for ourselves. While there is nothing magical about the beginning of a new year, we set our sights and off we go.
Once the mind gets focused on outcomes though, things can get sticky. It starts to do this thing called “comparing” where you currently are with where you want to be. Close on its heels is “judging” and of course this means you and I are then on the opposite side of self-compassion. What shows up next is tension, frustration, and a whole host of other unwanted thoughts and feelings. All of this serves to take you out of the present moment and you end up enjoying what you are doing less. Most of us will chalk it up to a “lack of willpower” and move on, our resolution a distant memory by February.
What if the solutions your resolutions conjure up are actually the problem? What if all the focus on the outcome is what stops you in the long run?
While we have control over our hands, feet, and mouth, we cannot control the outcomes of our actions. What we possess is the power to notice what we are doing anytime and any place we are. Noticing is the difference that makes a difference and over time turns plans into reality.
Noticing is simply being aware. It slows things down and only takes a second. Now, I am not talking about navel-gazing here but rather noticing with a purpose or end in mind. You can be moving toward your goal of getting fit and noticing how your actions are working or not working to get you where you want to go. It is simple and it doesn’t come with judging, comparing and labeling things good and bad. You just notice and ask the question, “Is what I’m doing working to get me where I want to go?” and then get back to whatever it is you were involved in. You don’t need to answer the question because the answer will come over time.
You can notice other things as well. You notice more frequently about who and what is important to you. This feels good and satisfying. The yucky stuff you don’t want can be noticed too. You notice thoughts like “I am not good enough” and feelings like frustration and sadness. You notice that it is okay to notice them.
The idea is to develop a practice, a way of being with all of yourself. Noticing gets you in the game. You can set goals and notice how they work or how they don’t work. You may even change them. It is okay. Noticing feel good and helps you to keep moving toward your important people and things.
Noticing may even help you keep moving toward your resolutions. Who knows, you may even discover more interesting things along the way!
To help me with my noticing. I use and practice with a tool called the matrix. If you want to try it out, you can download my report and guideline here.
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