(Photo by Adam Baker)
What I love about the new year is that it is a time to reflect on the past, savour the present with friends (hello champagne!), and look forward to the future. A new year can feel like a fresh start which in itself can be a catalyst for positive change. But – I have a little bone to pick with New Year’s resolutions.
So you made your list of goals for the coming year: start working out, save more money, find more work-life balance. Yes! Love it! But there’s an important step that is missing and that is the why: the core, underlying feeling that you want to experience.
Some might be obvious, and some might take a little more unpacking to get there, so channel your inner two-year-old and keep asking yourself “why?” until you uncover your core, desired feeling.
Here’s an example: “I want to start working out.”
Why? So that I can get into shape.
Why? Because I want to look good on the beach at my cousin’s destination wedding.
Why? Because I want to feel confident.
OK! So now we know that the core desired feeling in this case is to feel confident. Your core desired feeling can be any feeling you can imagine, but let’s use confidence for example’s sake. Working out may help you get there, but it is not working out itself that is the true goal. The true goal is to achieve your core desired feeling of confidence.
Identifying this is helpful for two reasons. One is that it can help you to more strategically choose actions that directly align with the feelings you are seeking to achieve. Working out and getting into shape are great action steps toward gaining confidence, but there may be other things you can do that can attribute to your goal of feeling confident, such as saying affirmations or doing something outside your comfort zone like joining a Toastmasters group for public speaking.
You may also find that once you have identified the underlying desired feeling, the action step that you originally had in mind might not line up so well after all. It’s like when you’ve had a really bad morning so, hell yeah, you’re going to have three doughnuts for lunch because obviously that will make everything better.
But if you sat with the feeling of your crappy morning for a minute, you might come up with other more effective actions like re-arranging your afternoon to make it less stressful or problem solving the morning’s stressors directly (although, sometimes three doughnuts totally is the best solution – let’s be real.).
The other reason for identifying the underlying desire is that it is a powerful tool for motivation. You know how when you were a kid, it was near impossible to save your allowance unless you had something specific that you were saving for? The thought of those brand new rollerblades (what’s up ‘90s kids?) – or better yet, the feeling of freedom gained from having them (“I can get to 7-Eleven way faster on these”) – made it easier to fill that piggy bank instead of spending it all on Slurpees and Spice Girls stickers.
When you’re making your resolutions this year, consider challenging yourself to identify the “why” for each of them and then rewrite your resolutions to reflect your answers. This can help you get clear on what you truly want and stay on track to get there. When there’s a “why,” there’s a way!
Faye Armstrong is a life coach based in Winnipeg who is passionate about living life to the fullest and helping others do the same. For a little motivation or to learn more about personal coaching, visit http://www.fayeaarmstrong.com.