We are beginning the New Year. Intentions and resolutions are on everyone’s lips. It’s all part of the January ritual, defining anew what you want and how you’re going to be a “better person” this year. (Why do you need to be better, by the way?)
But what no one is talking about is that if you’re making a resolution or an intention and not putting energy behind getting yourself into an optimal place to realize your vision, you’re doing it wrong.
This is the secret behind the businesses that are cashing in on you and your positive thinking about your future self. (Are you really still going to be going the gym and keeping up your no-sugar, no-carb, no-fun eating plan by February?)
They know you want a new start, a boost and to feel great. But they also know you’re probably focusing on actions and outputs, willpower and guilt. This is what most of us do when we want to make change.
But the real question is, how are you preparing yourself for true change? How are you setting yourself up for success? Because big changes happen gradually, incrementally, sometimes almost imperceptibly. But they all have the same process in common:
1. Imagining, envisioning, defining the desired
2. Planning, experimenting, gathering data, clarifying
3. Analysis of the setbacks, speed bumps or gaps; realigning yourself or recalibrating the plan, including thought work
4. Letting go, getting out of the way, or forgetting about it for a bit
The intending, the creation of the vision of our success is the delicious part. And that makes sense! It’s really fun to imagine and even get to a place where we can see and feel and almost taste that success.
(Side note: if you’re a normal adult, are you really allowing yourself time to regularly indulge in a positive visioning practice for your work or life? Or do you allow it once a year, around this time, and then forget about it? It’s worth making a practice of it. But that’s for another post).
And that kind of vision-thinking work really is the beginning of how you realize a dream.
But are you like most people? Do you give up in Step 1? Do you quit when you don’t see tangible progress the next day or the next month (or whatever random deadline you’ve assigned yourself)? Or, if you stick with it for a bit and get to Steps 2 or 3, do you compare yourself to others or to an ideal you feel you should be matching and you aren’t? Then, do you start to come down on yourself for not being where you want to or think you should be? (Should is the killer of true thriving, by the way).
So if you’re wrapped up in any of these lines of thinking and also feeling terribly – layering self-criticism on the bed of I-want-it-but-I’m-going-to-fail, you’re still doing it wrong.
The smaller your vision, the smaller your life. Big dreams, big goals and big lives take big vision. They also require big commitment. Grit. Persistence. Perseverance. Doggedness. Working through Steps 2-4. Over and over.
Discomfort. Yes. A lot of discomfort.
And a lot of people who continue to live small goals, small dreams, small lives, don’t like discomfort. Because it’s uncomfortable. And they aren’t willing to stick with the path of their desired outcome because it’s uncomfortable.
But if you think about it, anything you’re not currently living (freedom, joy, wellness, happiness, financial thriving, etc.) is unfamiliar. Which means it’s uncomfortable when you first move toward it – but human beings are very adaptable and quickly the uncomfortable can feel OK or even normal with time or exposure or practice.
And because it’s easier to go back to what you know, you give up on the unfamiliar-feeling way of being. Because it’s easier to feel settled and comfortable rather than moving forward through the unknown or unfamiliar, where that state of being you want and aren’t yet living, is.
Which means, like almost everyone else on the planet, you are really good at giving up long before you can possibly become or realize the person or the state of being you want. Because you’re not willing to get messy. Or be uncertain. Or feel insecure.
Which means your goals, your dreams and your life will be what you expect. And you can only expect things that you know. So the known is what is happening to you, over and over again, all day every day. It’s your reality. It’s your life. Which is why, year to year, you make the same resolutions and don’t keep them. It’s why you stay where you are and not much changes.
Except the fact that every year, when you take stock, you know you’re not super happy. Different day, same issues. Same drama. Same not-where-I-want-to-be. But you’re also not unhappy enough to do the work of being uncomfortable, of actually imagining and knowing that what you want is possible and lined up and waiting for you.
Because you know you, and you know you can’t. Because you haven’t yet. So you convince yourself you’ll stop resolving, stop intending, stop wanting, because it’ll never happen and it’s less painful to just stop before you try and get hurt. Or try, and be exposed for not knowing 100% of everything about everything you think you need to know, and don’t yet.
So maybe you’re one of those people who almost has the life they like and want, where you almost feel good, where you’re almost making the money you want, almost in the relationship you want, almost getting the recognition you deserve…forever on a treadmill of hope that someday you’ll (fill in the blank)….
Or maybe this is the Year of You. The year where you succeed. Where you team up with yourself as an ally and you move some very big things into place for the very first time in your life. And by doing so, you shock the hell out of yourself.
So what would that take? Instead of using willpower, can you use willingness?
Are you willing to give yourself some runway to be comfortable with discomfort?
Are you willing to accept that discomfort is a natural and necessary part of success?
Are you willing to keep going, even when you can’t see any evidence that things are happening?
Are you willing to see that your thoughts are the core of what’s holding you back, and that you are always able to choose thoughts that align with your receiving the gifts that are being freely shared with you?
Are you willing to accept that you were born to succeed?
Are you willing to allow your natural thriving?
Are you willing to believe that everything you want is possible and can come to you whenever you are willing to let it in?
Are you willing to let this be the Year of You and your success?
Maybe yes, maybe no. Either way, it’s up to you.