Hey Team. Our next challenge in the series of New Year’s resolutions we are setting this month toward our better selves is a hard one to completely wrap our arms around. I’m not going to ask you to set a healthy eating goal or a fitness goal of exercise minutes per week — I’m going to ask you an essential question that will drive this resolution. Who do you want to be?
In yoga, we are sometimes asked to set an intention — a focus on a quality we want to live in, be more of, concentrate on. I might set an intention of being more present. Or I could set an intention of being more positive. Suppose I set an intention to be more compassionate — I still my mind and focus on compassion as I move through my yoga flow. As I do so, according to my yogi, I’m manifesting more of that quality in myself. You are now saying, “Kara, we’ve been making SMART goals — you know, specific and measurable? What’s with the subjective adjectives? Positive, compassionate, present … how do I get concrete about how to ‘be’?” Good question! But before you dismiss your being goal as too vague, let’s get back to that essential question. Who do you want to be? Chances are, you already are a compilation of all the qualities you want to be, and you are on a continuing path to strengthen those qualities you value. But the beginning of a year is a great time to take stock, look back, look forward and reset the “Who Am I?” clock.
Start by stilling your mind, breathing deeply, and relaxing into your own thoughts about yourself as a person. (1) Your next step is a simple exercise of listing the adjectives that you hope describe you. How do you hope others see you? What do you hope to bring to the world? Just start listing, without evaluating. Here are a few possible adjectives to chose from, and pull your own as well:
Now, which word calls to you as the piece of yourself that you want to shine more? What cries out most for your attention? What quality do you wish came more easily? Got it?
Okay, time to be concrete … maybe I can do this by example.
My husband, Jeff, wants to be more present with our family. More in the moment. This wish is easy for most of us to relate to — we want to be where we are, when we are there, with the people we are enjoying. Not distracted. Not thinking about work. Not half-listening to our children.
But let’s face it — erasing the spinning wheels of the day is much easier said than done. In our multi-tasking, always-available-by-cell-phone world, distraction is the norm. So if being present is the being resolution, we need a plan to give us the concrete how. As you will remember, SMART goals, because they are more specific and measurable, have been found to be much more likely to be achieved by those who set them. (2) How can we make being present more SMART?
Jeff has dabbled in meditation off and on for stress management over the years. He decided that committing himself to 5-10 minutes of focused meditation as soon as he gets home from work would be a nice way to help himself transition his mind into family mode. So before he does anything after work, he heads for the bedroom, turns on his meditation app, gets still and puts in his 5-10 minutes. Then he comes out and greets us all properly. It’s the hot shower after his long run, the sunset of his body’s day, the ginger to his sushi. Measuring results of a being goal is less concrete than other resolutions, admittedly. And working toward who we want to be is an ongoing process, not something we check off a list and yell “done!” But we know when we are moving in the right direction. Jeff has definitely noticed a feeling of more focus, more connection, less distraction, since he has started this New Year’s ritual. We’ve noticed a change, too.
One of my favorite quoted goals is by Sidney Poitier: “I want to simply wake up every morning a better person than when I want to bed.” (3) It’s subjective, yes, but a great way to start each day on the right track.
Here are the being resolutions of Team Better’s content team:
Kara (me) (TB Social/Mental/Emotional Wellness Writer): I want to be more compassionate, meaning my first instinct would be to empathize, and assume the best, instead of getting annoyed or jumping to judgment. (Maybe my goal should also be to be more concise in wording my goals!) I’m going to help myself get to that road of compassion by volunteering with people less fortunate at least once a month.
Cynthia (TB Fitness Writer): I’m making a resolution this year to be polite, but not overly polite. I’m going to stick up for myself and stand my ground with confidence more.
Dana (TB Social/Mental/Emotional Wellness Writer): My goal this year is to be more spiritual by making prayer the first thing I do each morning and the last thing I do at night.
Jen (TB Nutrition Writer): My resolution is for greater organization in my life. I’m going to spend at least one hour each week organizing a closet, a drawer, a desk, a purse…
Still not sure how to start? Here are a couple great articles and a video to help inspire you to set the perfect resolution toward a better and happier you.
18 Insightful Questions to Help You Steer Your Year
Video: Why You Shouldn’t Tell Anyone Your New Year’s Goals
Anyay Strzemien. 11 Ways to Be a Better Person in 2017. New York Times.
- Five ways to add mindfulness to goal setting.The Brain Fitness and Training Center. Jan 10, 2013. Accessed Jan 8, 2017
- Better Person Quotes. Brainy Quote. Accessed Jan 8, 2017.
- Creating S.M.A.R.T goals. Top Achievement, Personal Development and Self Achievement Community. Accessed Jan 8, 2017.