It's that time of year again, a kind of limbo land between holidays and work, a space in which we might reflect on all the things we feel we should be striving for in the fresh new year. How often though do those initial feelings of bolstered ambition and renewed motivation quickly fizzle? Following that, how often do our (unhelpful) inner critics heap self-loathing upon us for not having achieved what we should have done before January has even ended? I think the problem lies within those 'should' statements and for setting goals that we think we should be striving for rather than ones that are more in alignment with our truths. Read on to find out why setting intentions rather than goals may help you achieve more wins in 2021 and follow my mindfulness activity to help guide you to understand what you really want.
Roads are a good metaphor for the uncertainty of life. Roads are sometimes straight, sometimes winding, taking us in the wrong direction and often in a state of repair. There are many different roads we can take to reach the end destination and most have curve-balls to some degree on the journey. Having a sense of direction, things to aspire to and work towards are great motivators but I wonder if changing setting goals to setting intentions might be more supportive? Goals are very fixed with success only measured by whether the end goal has been achieved or not with all the small steps it took to get there going uncelebrated. Goals can sometimes feel too big, be the wrong type of goal or unrealistic, eliciting feelings of self-doubt and thoughts of 'why bother? That is why most resolutions are never realised.
An intention is an idea or plan of what you are going to do.
By definition, intentions are less pressurised with flexibility to adapt and take different roads when needed to help realise them. I like to set daily intentions so that I don't feel like I have to eat the whole elephant in one go (please know that I'd never, ever, actually eat an elephant!) and by being really present with those intentions I stay connected to the path I am on with the choice to change that path if needed. I can celebrate the daily wins, let go of the things that didn't go well and set new intentions to help me through. The mindful attitudes of non-attachment, non-judgement, being open to, and accepting of, experiences as they unfold cultivate an ability to adapt, flex and 'go with the flow'. Those attitudes are really helpful for meeting the curve balls thrown at us on the roads we take and help mitigate the fall out when things don't go the way we want them to.
If you only focus on reaching the top of the mountain you will miss out on celebrating the small wins it took you to get there.
Choosing the right goals/intentions for you.
Remember those 'should' statements? Sometimes we don't reach our goals because they didn't align with our truth but perhaps of a perceived one. Are you going for that promotion because it is truly what you want, or because it's a 'natural' step? Are you planning on signing up to the gym because you love it or because that is what other people do? Are you forging ahead with a plan and ignoring your gut telling you it doesn't feel right? Mindful awareness helps us to connect to our truth so we can live in alignment more with our values and when we are in alignment, we feel at ease - most of the time! With a present mode of mind we can connect more deeply to what our desires really are, what our intentions might be and importantly how to plan for obstacles we might face.
Find a quiet moment and a warm, comfortable place to sit and listen to my guided mindful intention setting practice, to see if it helps you gain clarity and connect with what you want on a deeper level. During the practice, I will invite you to reflect on a series of questions and you can record your answers on the downloadable worksheet below or write them in your own journal? I would suggest being kind to yourself and setting intentions for one idea at time!
Click the picture to download the "Intention Setting" audio.
Click the picture to download the "Intention Setting" reflection sheet.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2021 and may all your dreams come true!
Be mindful (and intentional),