January is still in full swing, and it's almost time to start New Year's in February - yes, once you've recovered from the holidays, the kids are back in school, you're back at work or on your regular schedule, classes are underway etc., now you really have time to take a breather and reflect on the year ahead.
I just did an interview with Steve Goldberg of Optimus Performance, which I hope to post later on youtube, in which we discussed our different approaches to goal setting.
In the past, I have been pretty much an anti-goal person, so I went searching on the web to see if I was the only one with such a strong reaction to the word goal. Is it perhaps the military connotation I wondered? It seems such a outward focused word, so linear and logical, something you need to do to get ahead, to proceed, to conquer. It gives me a feeling of overwhelm just to write the word - goal - as if it will add one more thing to my already too-full To Do list.
I did find a few kindred spirits on-line. It seems that for women at mid-life especially, who are often tired, overwhelmed and trying to make space for themselves on that famous list, a better word may be Intentions. (One of my intentions is to play more - hence the snow woman, made with my daughter and her friend after an afternoon of sliding in the snow.)
In the new year's message in my newsletter, I narrowed the Intention Setting question for the year down to two things: what do I want more of, or less of? It felt like a good way to make sure that whatever I come up with is doable and doesn't lead to more overwhelm.
There are simple things I can do like taking a nap when I'm tired, enlisting help from my family to get meals prepared or grocery shopping and laundry. More quiet time for me to dream in, less busy time that makes me feel scattered and stressed.
The thing that helps me see where I am, and what my intentions are, is journaling. In my journal I write about what I want more of, what I love, and what I want less of or what blocks me from being happy, healthy and whole. It's a bit of an organic process, but I do find answers come to me.
I also use my journal to set an intention for the day - one that is doable and realizable. For instance, today I will breathe deeply before responding to my kids' persistent requests instead of getting impatient. Or today I will not sweat the small stuff. Or just for today, I will cultivate lovingkindness and compassion. I will be happier in my body. Then the next day I can check in with myself and the journal, as I start a brand new day.
This way of keeping on track is similar to what author Abby Seixas calls a victory log - a list of all the things that go right, in her book Finding the Deep River Within, A Woman's Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life. http://www.deepriverwithin.com/findingdeepriver.html
"A victory is any shift that you make in the direction you want to go, any step, no matter how small toward a goal you have set for yourself." Or an intention, if you prefer.
Don't overwhelm yourself by making a mountainous list of 'things to do' - make your intentions doable, and simple. Keep that self-compassion in mind. Be your own best Coach, and give yourself encouraging messages of support, or enlist the help of a friend to keep your promises, whether it be to do more exercise, eat fewer chocolate cookies, or hug your kids more often. And remember that your journal can be your best friend and a cheap form of therapy.
My intention for this week is to exercise regularly - for me, that means two yoga classes a week, and three home-exercise sessions of 20-30 minutes each, set up for me with a personal trainer who is a friend of mine. So far, week one, I'm on track. But I'm taking it one day at a time....one victory squat at a time.