Published in Womeninc, February 2005
by Diana Gabriel
This is the time of year when we pause to reflect upon the past year and make our resolutions for the next year. Very often we don’t take these seriously. We joke about resolutions being made to be broken and we tease one another about the things we resolve to change, knowing that most of us have no expectations of being able to honor any of them. This tradition of wishing and wanting things to be different echoes our desire for real change, even though we rarely succeed using traditional New Year’s Resolutions. Is there another way?
Let’s push the pause button for a moment, step back from the way it always is, take a deep breath and examine what it takes to be successful in creating lasting changes in our lives. Recently, a reader wrote to me seeking advice about how to motivate oneself to change “when you aren’t sure if there is anything out there that you think you can do or accomplish.”
I have found people to be most successful with changes in their lives when they took the time to follow these steps:
- Reflect upon where you have been
- Know who you are, in terms of what matters most to you
- Be clear with and set achievable intentions
- Have someone to be accountable to
Notice that I used the term intentions rather than goals or resolutions. These words conjure up preconceived resistance that we are often not aware of, and they invite failure. Intentions, on the other hand, come from the heart and allow for a more flexible approach to making distinct changes.
Set your intentions for 2005 by setting aside some time to follow those four steps. As you contemplate where you have been and what is most important to you, you become more aware of what you want or need in your future. When you articulate your sacred values – the things that you will not compromise and which guide your life – you are writing your own, personal road-map. You can then write a life purpose statement, which articulates what gives your life meaning and purpose. These steps will allow you to search for deep clarity about your life, and help you envision an even more fulfilled and meaningful life.
Then, state your intentions and develop a plan of action to make them a reality. While this may seem daunting, or you may think that you don’t know enough about yourself and your values to complete these exercises, you will be surprised by the energy you generate and how much you will enjoy the process of discovery. Enjoy designing your New Year’s Intentions – and Happy New Year.