A brand New Year is right around the corner, and while many of us are ardently looking forward to this fresh start, the last days of the year can be just as potent. It’s a time to reflect, to give gratitude, and decide who we want to become in this new year. If that sounds a lot different than how you approach setting goals and making new year’s resolutions, great! I’ve created this three-step guide to starting the new year off with consciousness and appreciation and, I’m willing to bet, your goals and resolutions will feel much easier to reach… or you may find yourself making entirely new ones.
Begin with Gratitude
Before laying plans or setting goals for the New Year, take a moment to journal about everything you accomplished in 2019. List and describe everything that happened the past year that you’re grateful for—and it doesn’t have to be a list of “good” things. Perhaps you faced a big challenge and came through it with grace and strength. Maybe you faced a fear and are now one step closer to eradicating it. Maybe your year was filled with unexpected change, and you met at least some of it gracefully and positively.
Be sure to include the “good” things as well, like a promotion, engagement, birth of a child, or any other celebratory blessing. Just know that our blessings are so much more than these peak moments. Areas where we persevered, where we kept a consciousness of joy during a struggle, or where we pushed consistently against our nature in order to grow. These are all blessings as well and worthy of their own celebration. So take time to really acknowledge all that this year meant to you.
Set Your Intentions
The beginning of a New Year is a perfect time to set our sights on what we want to achieve, but before you list your goals, I invite you to set intentions. Intentions are about being where goals are about doing, and if you can focus on who and how you want to be first, the doing becomes more natural. It works like this: let’s say your goal this year is to write a book, who would you need to be to achieve that? Examples of intentions would be “I intend to make my creativity a priority,” “I intend to focus on everything that is possible,” and “I intend to see myself as capable and strong.”
When you set an intention versus a goal, you’re actively manifesting an experience. Goals are static and “in the future.” Intentions are fluid and are about the here and now. Our purpose is not some distant destination or achievement; our purpose is revealed every day. This is how intentions work. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t set goals. Goals are powerful things. However, the success of a goal is found in who you become while you’re working toward it.
Lay Out Some Small Steps
The smallest steps lead to the most significant change. I love the quote from Nancy Gibbs, “it’s funny how things change slowly, until the day we realize they’ve changed completely.” This is how change works. A collection of small, gradual shifts that eventually lead to a totally different experience. Many of us move through this process of change, totally unaware and wake up one morning thinking, “what happened?” This doesn’t need to be the case, especially if you have consciousness around where and why you’re wanting to change. When you decide, you harness the power of change. You work in tandem with it, instead of getting swept up by it.
Continuing with the example of writing a book, let’s look at some small steps that could be taken to get you there:
- Clean out your office and fill it with things that inspire you like plants, art, or candles.
- Buy a new journal or notebook that is dedicated solely to your creative writing.
- Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier in the morning and use that time only for writing.
- Sign up for a creative writing class.
- Read a book by an author you love to gain inspiration.
- Take yourself on creativity dates—something you do all on your own, whether it’s walking through the park or wandering through a bookstore where you can let your mind dream and imagine.
- Write one page every day.
When we think of a goal like “write a book,” instantly, we think things like “I have to write ten pages every day,” or “I want this done by June.” Beware taking two steps at a time. Instead, focus on the small steps and send your energy there every day. Before you know it, your book is done.
Anything is possible with a consciousness of appreciation, strong intention, and consistent, daily effort. This is what I mean when I say the process is the purpose. Our real purpose in life is to grow and transform, not to achieve as many goals as possible. Sure, writing your first book, running a marathon, or finishing grad school are all marvelous achievements. But what is even more important is who you become as you work to achieve them.
Remember, at the end of 2020, you will not be the same person you are now. So before you step one foot into the New Year, ask yourself who it is you’d like to become.
Follow these three steps and see how this changes the way you look at this new year ahead. Perhaps your goal changes. Maybe you have a new appreciation for who you became in 2019. Maybe the thing you want to accomplish suddenly feels doable. Share with me what you find, I’d love to hear how you’re entering the New Year!