You may be familiar with the Chinese calendar that assigns an animal and its attributes to each year. The Western Astrological system, similar to the Chinese system, is based on time periods of birth, each having 12 symbols or signs associated with personalities and fortunes. However, whereas the Chinese system is based on archetypal animals, the Western culture is based on constellations, formed by the stars in the sky and their positions relative to the earth. The constellations were named according to Greek mythology and astrological theory was developed based on the stars supposed influence on human personalities and lives.
But let’s forego all of that and declare this the Year of You.
What does that entail?
Let’s first explore some questions about where you are in your well-being journey. Each question represents an area of well-being, As you consider each of these ten questions, think about how you would rate yourself on a scale from 1-10.
1. I feel good about myself
2. I think positively
3. I can calm myself down after an upsetting experience
4. I stay present in every moment
5. I believe that my life has meaning and purpose, I feel fulfilled
6. I enjoy doing things that benefit others
7. I am happy
8. I have meaningful relationships with others but would benefit from having more
9. I make myself a priority
10. I often feel stressed
The journey toward becoming your best self requires you being intentional and creating a plan. It’s the same as with any other trip you might take wherein you prepare before you set out on the journey.
Creating quality plans is a critical piece of growing and sustaining a growth. Sometimes when we fail to reach goals, we use that failure as evidence to support our belief which comes from a fixed mindset – a mindset that says we are not capable of change. However, the reality is there is a greater likelihood that failure occurred because there wasn’t an effective plan or use of effective strategies in place. Understanding the best methods for setting and working toward long-term goals will give a better chance of realizing our goals and ultimately proving to ourselves that we are capable of anything.
One of the first steps in realizing your goals is to have a clear vision of the goals you want to achieve.
This quote by Gail Lynn Goodwin states it well: “The clearer you are when visualizing your dreams, the brighter the spotlight will be to lead you on the right path.”
One of the first steps toward realizing a goal is to be able to clearly define it. Often, life goals take the form of vague wishes. For example, you might desire to be happier, smarter, more confident, thinner, healthier, more fit, but when we look closely at goals like these, it isn’t clear what they actually mean. What would it look like to be more fit? Healthier how? How would we know when you’ve reached your desired amount of health or happiness?
Research in 2010 from Oettingen & Gollwitzer suggests that the likelihood you will achieve a goal is greatly influenced by how precisely you are able to explain it This doesn’t mean that you can’t strive to be happier or more confident, rather, you just need to be more specific about what you mean by that. In the example of happiness, you would first need to identify the areas in which you are unsatisfied with your current level of happiness or the factors that contribute to an experience of generalized unhappiness. For instance, perhaps you are dissatisfied with your job and it’s this stress and dissatisfaction that is impeding your ability to enjoy your life. In this case, you might redefine your happiness goal as finding work that is meaningful and enjoyable (at least most of the time).
It's also important to remember that there needs to be a degree of challenge in the goal. When the goals we are striving toward are too easy or seem to far from where we are at the moment, it may seem nearly impossible to find the energy required to pursue them and we likely would burn out or give up before reaching them. The adage, how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time might be applicable here?
Here’s an exercise to help you on your Happy YOU Year journey.
Think and write down your top three biggest or most important long-term goals. You can always repeat this exercise with different goals later on, but it’s helpful to start simple and then build from there. Once you’ve identified your goals, move through them one at a time and ask yourself the following questions:
● Can I identify specific steps I would need to take to achieve this goal?
● Is this goal realistic?
● Is this goal challenging?
● Can I measure my progress toward this goal?
● Will it be possible to know when I’ve reached this goal?
● Does this goal really matter to me? (In other words, is it something someone else wants you to do)
● Do I feel inspired by this goal?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, take a minute to reflect on the goal and consider how you might reframe your specified goal so that it satisfies all the important criteria. If the goal you’ve selected isn’t meaningful to you or doesn’t make you feel inspired, it might be necessary to select a different one. Accomplishing a challenging goal in which you don’t feel truly invested is nearly impossible and might not be worth the energy it would take to reach it.
Once you’re able to move through your list of goals and answer ‘yes’ to all of the above questions, write out the revised version of your goals.
Know YOUR Why’s
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – John F. Kennedy
Your “whys” are the driving factors behind your goals, the intentions that inspire you to action. Exploring your intentions is an important step in preparing for growth, even in instances when the ‘why’ feels obvious. For example, let’s say your goal is to be debt free. It might seem silly to examine the why behind an objective like this. Of course, you would want to be rid of your debt. However, there are deeper motivations behind the desire to be debt-free, reasons why it is important to that you don’t have debt. Maybe your why is to relieve your stress, or to build, add to or rebuild your retirement nest egg. Recognizing these deeper motivations and intentions are instrumental for the change you hope to make.
Follow next week's blog to continue finding out next steps in making this
Your YOU Year!
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