I had an eye-opening experience this year around late October. I found an old notebook where I'd written out my New Year's resolutions for 2017. As I stared at the list with only a couple months left to go in the year, the words seemed to jump out at me.
I hadn’t accomplished a single goal.
I hadn't written a book, hadn't opened our second Hivery, and hadn't turned one of my workshops into an online course.
"What a loser," my fear-brain piped in. I spent a good ten minutes being hard on myself. "You lost your focus." ... "You busied yourself with the wrong things." ... "What's wrong with you?"
Wow. That's the kind of self-talk that I would never allow at The Hivery. And here I was, engaged in a lively verbal shake-down in my own head.
With some quiet time and my favorite "hike it off" strategy, I was able to get re-centered on where those original goals came from, why they mattered to me, and what NOT accomplishing them this year taught me. With further introspection and review, I "remembered" that 2017 has been an unbelievable year, filled with growth, learning, expansion, incredible friendships, countless victory bell moments with our members, and most importantly, love, family and joy.
I came back to my list a week later with fresh eyes and the knowledge that 2017 taught me a lot. Among the many lessons: in order to do anything new, I must go through the motions of exploring it, feeling it, and trying it on. That exploration time is part of my creative process and is not only time well-spent, but it is required for me to understand how important a goal is to me. I also learned that it is perfectly fine to walk away from a so-called goal, or answer the goal with “not now" if it doesn’t actually serve me, or just doesn’t feel right.
I started thinking: what if I could reflect back on the past year and think about the things I did do rather than the things I didn’t do? What if I could look at the learnings I gained from moments when I had to change direction? Moments when things didn’t go according to plan?
I found myself humming along to the beloved musical, Hamilton, where the strong, impeccably smart character Angelica, sings, "You want a revolution? I want a revelation,” but I was singing, “You want a RESOLUTION? I want a REVELATION.”
I realized that I, like Angelica, want something a little different. I don’t want to be bound by a holiday-based goal. I want to live, learn, change course, and create something. More than anything, I want to feel alive. That doesn’t always tie back to a goal I made in late December. That’s something I carry inside all year long. This change in thought did wonders for my disposition and has completely altered the way I look at goal-setting, especially as it relates to the proverbial New Year’s resolutions.
I would love to bust the perfection myth around this beginning-of-each-year tradition. New Year’s resolutions can disconnect us from the centeredness of actually being on the right track in order to somehow redirect us to thinking that something distant from us is really what we want. What’s more, that that distant thing is only attainable if we force ourselves into it at the outset of every New Year.
So how do we look at New Years’ goals with renewed perspective?
Here are a few ideas...
Get clear on your ‘why.’ Take a moment to think about the deeper reasons behind your goal. For me to do this, I have to get very quiet with myself. Only then can I assess my truth of either aiming for what I call a “should" goal vs. a goal that is inspiring and meaningful to me deep down.
Create a support structure. For the record, I’m not a goal-hater…and tbh (as my teenager says for "to be honest"), I’ll probably make some New Year’s resolutions again this year. I think goals can be good things, but in order to serve us, each one needs to have a support structure around it.
If your goal is to write a book, the first question is why? Why now? What story do you need to tell? Then, think about timing. When will you start outlining chapters? Will you start by trying to write for 10 minutes every day for two weeks? Would it be helpful if you joined a writers’ group, or even came to The Hivery every Tuesday and designated that your writing day? When you aren’t feeling your best, whom will you call to help prop you up and give you words of encouragement? Having an accountability buddy or mentor to coach you through the inevitable dips really works, especially for big, long-term goals.
The need for support structure applies to all goals, from losing weight to spending time outdoors to travel. What support can you put around your objectives to help you along?
Prioritize the way you want to feel in the New Year. Back in late November, I had the great fortune of attending Hivery member Megan Flatt’s Post-It Note Happy Hour in our Creative Studio. I love Megan’s insights as a coach and was really taken by her first question to the class. Instead of asking what our goals were, she asked how we wanted to feel.
We all wrote down the first things that came to us and it was incredible what my co-participants expressed. I want to feel expansive. I want to feel relaxed. I want to feel open.
My desired feeling? To live at the epicenter of my creativity.
I stared at my post-It and thought: wait! I do feel that way! Who cares if I didn’t achieve my New Year’s goals? I do feel like I’m living at the epicenter of my creativity every day. Realizing that was an incredible feeling. I had achieved my goal, albeit a different and more important one than I had written down as my resolution for the year.
Think about what you did do vs. what you didn’t do. To reiterate something I said earlier when I let you into the self-talk in my head, I think it can be easy for us to focus on our failures rather than on our successes. I’m willing to bet you scaled many mountains this year, even if they didn’t match your goal list. For this upcoming year, focus on how you want to feel, stay away from “should” goals, and create a structure for support (that’s what The Hivery is for!).
As always, you’ve got this.