Happy New Year Everyone,
Now that we have entered the new year, you may be contemplating what this year might hold for you as it unfolds. Or, you may be busy setting big goals for yourself, writing them down and starting today. What ever your approach is, may it serve you well to live a life that is enriching, ever-evolving and intentional. That is, using your abilities, your dreams and your passions to reach your goals and overcome challenges. Please don’t use your resolutions as another reason to beat yourself up, but design your goals with a huge amount of compassion, self-care and forgiveness. This is supposed to feel good 🙂
Your goals might be as simple as walking every day, or spending more time with family, or, as big as launching a business, changing jobs or planning an epic adventure. For me, setting goals is crucial to running my business, completing projects, and reaching more people. I do know that the chances of reaching goals increases dramatically when:
1) You know your WHY: write down why you want to work on this goal. Is it to be healthier so you can enjoy life more? So you can feel better, more alert and happier? So you can provide for your family and enjoy your lifestyle? Most of all, how do you want to feel?
2) You WRITE down your goals. Something about writing them down helps people to be more committed and accountable. Make sure they are measurable, so you actually know when you have reached them. Then share them selectively with a few people.
3) BLOCK off the time on your calendar. When are you actually going to do this? In my experience, if it’s not on my schedule it doesn’t get done. This is when the rubber hits the road… now you’re not just dreaming, you’re doing.
It can also help to review the past year, what went well, what didn’t, what did you learn? What would you like more of and less of? You are in control of shaping your own life, no-one else can, so don’t rely on anyone else to do it. Say No to what doesn’t serve you and Yes to what excites and inspires you.
Follow that simple path and start reaching your goals and creating the life you want. Start where you are right now, and beware of the ‘buts’… but I can’t because…. but I’m too ____ (fill in the blank). They are excuses for not moving forward in some way.
Now, on to some soul-feeding, life-nourishing stuff. As I review what I have learned over the past year of endless research, listening to people, teaching, trying and experimenting, I have tried to really distill what works to help people, my clients and students, find relief from pain, anxiety, and trauma. I have found tools that work for some, not for others, or not at all, and I am constantly amazed by the uniqueness and strength of the human spirit. By far, the most powerful tools I have found that we all possess are breathing and mindfulness. It’s not complicated, but it does require practice. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Take a few minutes each morning before you get out of bed to put your hands on your belly and heart and breathe in for a count of 5 and out for 5. This is called ‘coherent breathing’ and is like a reset button, sending a message to your brain that you are safe and ok (aka, less anxiety). I have seen people transform dramatically with this simple practice.
- Either take time for a formal mindfulness meditation practice in the morning, or choose one activity that you will make into a mindfulness practice (ie. driving, listening, eating, washing dishes). It can be different every day.
- Stop throughout the day to notice… how am I feeling? What am I thinking? What is happening around me? In other words… where am I right now? Use your senses to notice everything about the moment.
- If you find yourself anxious and stressed, do the following: a) Breathe deeper. Chances are you are breathing shallow, which creates anxiety and tension. Breathe into your belly to activate the vagus nerve, which calms the body. B) Ask yourself what story you are telling yourself about this moment or about yourself. What are you not fully accepting? Maybe it’s a story about being late, or worry about something or someone, or not being good enough. Notice it as a thought.
Add a dose of gratitude at the beginning and end of every day, and you have a very powerful formula to get through anything that this year brings your way. Meet it with grace, ease and a deeper sense of fulfillment. Caution: You may begin to smile more, and react less 🙂
Here is a 7 minute practice that incorporates all of the above if you prefer to be guided:
I hope this helps you to find comfort in hard times, and to celebrate the abundance that is already all around you,
Here’s to an awesome year and an awesome you!
ps. Mindfulness classes resume this week 🙂