09 Jan Opening our eyes and hearts to 2017
When we stop looking at our phones or towards that next big purchase we can start to see the beauty that is within us and all that surrounds us. We will see the love in our hearts, the beauty of the flowers, the energy, the kindness of others, ourselves and the people who really make the world more beautiful. Who and what do you want to see this year? For where we focus our attention our attention stays. If you look to the garden, do you see the weeds or the flowers? We are the author of our stories; the gardeners who can plant more flowers. If we focus on what we will gain from setting our goals and intentions for 2017 we will start to see what is gained rather than lost. If your goal is to wake up an hour earlier each morning imagine how that extra time will bring energy to do more of the things you love.
When we explore our hopes and dreams for what we would like to create or gain in 2017 may we do it more mindfully, while engaging our values, using mindset and self-compassion. May we be curious about how it will feel and be loving to ourselves about how we succeed in moving towards our goals and vision for our future best self. Bring with this exploration an energy and ask yourself each day am I a better version of myself today in comparison to yesterday? And if the answer is yes then we have succeeded.
We also need to bring positive emotion as according to Barbara Frederickson and positive psychology we understand that when we experience and bring positive emotions to our goal setting we are more likely to obtain our goals, hopes, dreams and move positively towards others and experience more joy. The world of neuro psychology also brings hope to our goal setting and creating our vision as we now know that the more we practice something the more it will become a habit so set your intentions wisely and practice those to become more expert at them.
How do we engage our values in goal setting?
First, try to imagine what you would be doing in life a year from now without obligation to finance, obligation of work commitments or another’s expectations. Imagine the freedom to be doing exactly what you like, knowing that all of your desires and goals have actualised. Write a vision for yourself with this in mind of what your future best self would be doing, thinking, feeling and seeing. Do this with playfulness and an open heart, the more you engage all of your senses and include what you would be feeling, who would be with you and how the scenery looks the better this process will be. Spend 15 minutes to 30 minutes writing this and truly experiencing the joy and wonder.
You may then notice that from completing this task there will be a common theme or key words that may energise you or seem important to you. Circle or list these as these will be your guiding values of what is important to you and thus guide your goal setting. For example, if you imagine your vision and future self to be in a tranquil, calm place in nature surrounded by loving family, and friends being playful, enjoying and talking about the next adventure you will share. Then your values may include connection with family and friends, nature and peace? Every person’s vision and values are unique and will drive different goals for the year. The example above could drive goals of creating time for family and friends or seeking adventures in nature. When we are more connected with ourselves by understanding what, our values are, we can ask important questions with self-compassion and intention. How did I live out my values today? Or how can I mindfully be with nature today? if the intention was to tune into nature, focus on just that and what is gained from the richness of nature, how it feels and what you notice rather than the loss in switching off your phone. Is there really any loss when we pay attention? Rather you may notice a gain in creativity, connectedness to nature and others and calmness.
Mindset self-compassion and its role in goal setting.
When we engage self-compassion and mindset belief which is a belief that biases how you think, feel and act, it acts like a filter that we see everything through and it’s only those beliefs that are important that become mindset. Not like the thought that I prefer the beach to the pool? To change a person’s mindset to a more positive one about either health, wellbeing or a new way of seeing yourself in the future is to first imagine an alternative view or way of thinking, this is where the vision work becomes powerful as some mindsets can self-sabotage such as I always fail so why bother trying? (Crum, 2012). Imagine if we started to have an alternative view where we believed we could succeed. We could focus on some areas of our life where we have succeeded in the past or simply visualise ourselves succeeding and moving towards that with self-compassion. Research has found that even after a simple introduction of an alternative new mindset, it can take hold, flourish and this can help spread positive change over time. Through using an internal dialogue that supports and nurtures us towards our vision for our best self we can actualise our goals for 2017. Self-compassion, use the kind words that we would use with our best friends and say things like “today you took another step closer to your goals, well done” and if something doesn’t go to plan as we hoped, as it sometimes wont we say “I’m still learning to be the best version of myself”. Research supports the use of visualisation, values, self-compassion and mindset belief in order to change behaviours in a more positive direction.
My hope is for each and every one of you to take one small step towards your goal no matter how small it may seem as one step changes the neural pathways in the brain towards change. Reflect on the year that has passed, what are you most grateful for? What no longer serves you and with loving curiosity and compassion let go of those things that no longer serve you to be your best self, savour those moments you cherished and believe that 2017 is a chapter in your life story that you can create. How do you want this chapter to read?