Around this time last year, I wrote about how every day, and, in fact, every hour, can be a fresh start if we want it to be. There is, however, something undeniably reflective about January. The New Year offers a moment in time for us to look back on where we’ve come from, and to set intentions for where we’re going. While this is the time for resolutions, this year, I’m taking a different approach to goal setting. Every resolution we make has a what and a why. The what is the action. It’s the change we’re going to make in our lives. But the why is what gives us intention. It’s the impetus behind those changes we choose to make. The what is usually pretty straightforward, but finding the why is often a little more convoluted – and even though we often think we know what it is, it can take a little extra digging to get to the true root of it.
For example, several different people might make the same resolution. Their what might be to go to the gym five days a week. But the reason why they want to do that could be completely different. And even within their why, there is often a deeper reason. One person might think their why is to get stronger physically. But within that could be another why. They might want to get stronger to feel more empowered. Another person’s why might be that they want to become healthier. The reason within that might be to live longer so they can be there for their children. A third person might want to go to the gym so that they like their appearance more. And the reason they want to like their appearance more could be that they want to feel more confident about who they are overall. In the months leading up to January, I like to reflect on the past year and think about my goals without immediate action for the year to come.
I’m a big believer in vision boards, so this is usually where I start. Creating them is not only a fluid way for me to realign my actions with my intentions, but also how I can spend time digging into my whys and asking myself harder, less tangible questions. Why do I want certain things to happen? Why would achieving these goals make me happy? And from there I often discover what it is I need to shift in my life to achieve that happiness – or what I might even need to let go of. Instead of forcing big changes, which I’ve found from experience to be unsustainable, I take several small steps to create the right space within my environment and routine for my intentions to thrive.
You’d be amazed at how small steps can truly make a huge difference. For instance, one of my goals for last year was to push boundaries with my career. But in order to do that, I knew that I needed to have more clarity of mind – a constant challenge for someone who juggles multiple projects and travels from timezone to timezone as much as I do. After asking myself why I felt as though my mind was often cluttered, I realised that a large part of it came down to something as simple as sleep. Whenever I checked the time on my phone at night, I would inadvertently end up reading several messages about work projects (as they tend to come through at all hours for me), which would in turn affect my ability to turn off my mind and sleep well. So I bought an alarm clock and now leave my phone in the other room. Since then, I’ve been able to sleep better and therefore be more present when I am focusing on work.
We may live in a world of action, but spending time to reflect on a goal and dig into why we want to achieve it can not only shed light on the easiest path to actually getting there, but also on the essence of who we truly are. After all, we strive to become better versions of ourselves because we believe we can be. Getting to know ourselves is the first step.