Reflections and Intentions
I find this time between Christmas and New Year provides an opportunity for reflection, a time to note my reactions and responses – both positive and negative – to the events of the year.
How can I continue with the positives?
And what intentions will guide me along a different path, away from the negatives?
Notice I said “intentions” not “resolutions”. Resolutions tend to be absolutes that frequently get broken, whereas “intentions” take a longer view, allow for lapses, and are constant works in progress.
It is also a time to celebrate the successes of the year and focus on how they can be the building blocks for the future. By using the successes to influence intentions, steering us away from any negative responses, we will achieve more than any “New Year, New You” resolutions ever will.
My own approach has been influenced by my mentor, Nikita Akilapa who, via her workshops and personal guidance, has helped me to establish an initial process for setting intentions, allowing me the freedom to develop this in a way that suits me.
It is a process that takes some time but is very beneficial for creating positive and effective change.
It is essential to be in present moment and remember that past stories influence our view of the present. We believe these stories, so it is vital for our own wellbeing that we tell a good story. I find that my yoga practice or a walk outdoors helps me reconnect to the present and allows me to settle with my journal ready for the second stage.
These are lists to help establish the intentions for the coming year. It is good to make a physical list, be it by hand or online, so that you can read them back and reflect on how they make you feel.
a. Gratitude List
Write down at least 20 things that you are grateful for. These can be big or small; but when reflecting you may notice that the small things are actually the big things. When you have finished, read the list and tune in to how it makes you feel; anchor into that feeling.
b. Expansions List
These are the challenges that you have encountered. I add to this list my own reactions to these challenges. Noting, without judgement (as much as is possible), whether this was a beneficial response or not. I find it helpful to write a few questions and then answer them dispassionately.
What actions or beliefs hindered me and, in the future, how can I recognise when I am repeating these actions or self-talk?
It is not until we recognise when we are hindering ourselves that we can do something about it.
·Is there a single bad habit that is sabotaging my wellbeing?
You will probably have many more questions that will work for you and your circumstances, these are just suggestions. But the ability to stand back and observe your actions and thought processes is a key part of the process.
It is important to remember that any apparently negative behaviour or thoughts were established for a reason and often ingrained over a long period of time. By noting these actions without judgement and you may see patterns emerging.
c. Success List
Itemise your successes over the year. These do not have to be quantifiable in the way that business or educational success is measured (although you should include these successes if they have occurred) but can be completing a simple task or responding positively to a situation.
I also approach this part with some questions such as:
What positive actions or beliefs helped me cope during the challenges of the year?
Is there a way to incorporate these into my daily life going forward?
What are my strengths?
How can I utilise these strengths to greater effect?
Again, when you have finished, read the list and notice how it makes you feel.
This is where you list what you want. These are not material things (although some may be) but actions, responses, achievements, etc.
Intentions should be written from a positive stand point. Replace the “I will not ..” and “I will stop …” phrases with “I will …”, so you maintain an affirmative mindset.
Intentions must be specific.
Intentions can be long- and/or short-term.
Intentions must complement each other.
I find it helpful to include answers to some of the questions in my expansions list, establishing constructive action(s) to replace anything that does not serve me. There is no magic wand that will change ingrained behaviours overnight; but recognising and establishing an immediate, easily accomplished, positive counter-action will help to improve your wellbeing.
Small steps are the way to make big changes, so break down your longer-term intentions into smaller, manageable stages.
Take time to read your list.
Take time to fully focus on what you are capable of.
Take time to invest in your own growth.
And if you lapse? As I said earlier, the beauty of an intention is that it is a work in progress. Notice the slip and revert to the positive intention to get yourself back on track.
Jim Rohn summed it up neatly when he said:
“Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day”.
Do you set intentions at this time of year? Do you review them during the year? I would love o know your approach to planning and growth, so leave a comment below or get in touch on social media.