I love starting a new year! A new year naturally gives me pause to reflect and make space for new beginnings, or fresh perspective in certain areas of my life.
In past years, I would create a big, beautiful, inspiring, long list of what I planned to do and/or do differently in the year to come. But soon, that lovely colorful list would feel like an overwhelming and perhaps unrealistic laundry list of things that may never happen. Often some of my best intentions would fall by the wayside or never even get started. I would begin a new routine or habit and just let it go. What gives?
This may be a common experience for many. Many of us easily lose motivation or drive to forge ahead with our intentions or goals after just a few weeks into the new year. Yet, as normal as this may be, we can create intentions that stick, ultimately creating sustainable change in our lives.
We might simply be setting the “wrong” goals for ourselves, meaning that we may not always be honest with ourselves about what it is that we want. To really succeed, we have to totally and completely buy into an intention or goal we hold ourselves accountable for. Listen to what it is that truly lights you up and makes you feel how you want to feel—those intentions will be more likely to be sustainable for you. And you might even be willing to let go of old goals that no longer truly reflect what you desire.
Once I learned that my core values help me connect to my deepest and truest intentions, I realized the power of becoming truly clear about my values. Then, my intentions became clearer and more aligned with what I value. Does what I plan to do jive with the lifestyle I want and how I want to spend my time, and who I want to spend my time with?
If an intention or desire feels easy and resonates in your soul, gut, and heart, then it most likely aligns with your deepest values, and your true essence. These are the goals, dreams, and desires that you are probably meant to follow. Instead of feeling tension, stress, confusion, angst, or exhaustion, you will feel energized, light, joyful, and more at peace, simply because you are setting intentions that are in closer alignment to your values.
As you set intentions for 2016, what is truly most important for you to focus on?
Start with a values inventory
A good starting place is to create a list of what you value most in your life and how you want to live your life. Find a quiet space and time, with your cup of tea or drink of choice, and maybe music that inspires you. Settle into your comfy spot to listen to what comes to your mind. Then write…..
What do you value most? What are your deepest values in life? Values are usually feelings, things and/or experiences, like happiness, compassion, spirituality, connection, money, etc.
Write freely for 10 minutes (or more) all that comes to mind for you.
Read aloud all the values that come to you, and highlight those values that create a flood of positive emotions when you say and embody them. For many of us, values like family, friends, gratitude, and abundance are key foundational values. The list is endless but it needs to feel true for you. Then go one step further. Circle 6-8 values that speak to you. Go deeper into each and write about what each value means to you. What does it look like, and feel like for you? Where do you currently see that value in action?
For example, I value creativity.
What does it truly mean to me? Creativity means that I have the space and freedom in my life, to express myself authentically, and give voice to that part of me that wants to create beauty and opportunities to grow for myself and others. It looks like the activities that I love and feel deeply connected to and do when I trust my desires – writing, yoga, dancing, creating new content for classes and empowering others through my coaching and workshops. It feels fun, expansive, and joyful.
From this one step, I uncover other values within, like freedom, and fun. By being conscious of how much of my time is actually going into these activities that directly align with my core values of creativity, freedom and fun, I can see where I might want to create some change or new goals in 2016.
Take your list of core values and prioritize them as best as you can.
Write your responses: In what ways am I living these values in my life right now? What activities, people, or experiences are connecting me to living those values in my daily life? What does it look like to see that value in action for me?
How can you set intentions that support your values? If you see a gap where you are not living these values in action, then that is a possible cue to make changes and set intentions around this area of your life.
Set honest and authentic intentions
Now, brainstorm all the goals, intentions and desires you have for the coming year. How does your list of your desires and intentions connect to your highest values? Compare the two and look for connections.
Instead of setting the goal “to exercise more and get in shape,” be specific about how you want to feel and consider those values you prioritized. What kinds of physical exercise and movement give you that feeling or align with a value? Set intentions that connect to your highest values and how you want to feel in life.
Example: “I will dance more.” More specifically, what does that look like and does it connect to my values?
New example: “I will sign up for dance classes that sound fun and creative to me. I will take 2-3 classes a month and sample one new kind of dance that I am curious about every other month.” Am I motivated to do this? You bet! It feels good, exciting, adventurous, and creative and expansive—all feelings that I want to infuse in my life and connect to my values of freedom, fun and creativity.
Let this be an unfolding process over a few weeks or so. Write down your specific intentions. Place a few “fire in your belly” intentions up where you can see them daily. If you catch yourself smiling when you read one, you are probably right on track with what is true for you!
You might be surprised how the dates and time blocks on your calendar fill up with the mini goals and steps that set you in motion. Set yourself up for success with small, measurable steps that you can realistically accomplish. If you start small, very small, a ripple effect will ensue and before you know it, you will be on your way to creating what you want, forming a new habit, trying something new, or whatever it is that your heart desires. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
Rebekah Kane, Founder of Tell a New Story Coaching, coaches and empowers people through job, career and life transitions with less stress, more balance, ease and joy. www.tellanewstorycoaching.com