Twelve months from now you will feel, experience, imagine and embody something. Do you want to be in the drivers’ seat or leave it up to chance? Setting intentions and working toward your goals is the way to get, become, dare we say manifest(?) exactly what you want for yourself, your life and your work.
In this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work, we get to ring in the New Year with Part 2 of a 2 part series on Reflections and Realizing Intentions. In Episode 75 (what?!! 75 episodes!) we learned about the power of reflection. Reflecting on the past year is a great start to setting intentions for the new year – and this episode focuses on how to make those intentions real. As Crina says – and she says someone else said it – you are going to be someone in 12 months, you are going to have done things in 12 months and experienced things in 12 months – so who do you want to be and what do you want those things done and experiences had to be?
Last year we focused our “intentions” episode on setting mental intentions to achieve who we want to be, how we want to feel and how we want to react.
Take some time to reflect on last year – and organize the reflections. It can be as simple as good and bad or you can define the categories you most resonate with. Kirsten uses emotional, physical, work, relational, financial and spiritual. Pick whatever feels right.
Once we reflect on last year, think about what we want to repeat (or not) in the coming year. We can set specific goals – anything from finding that new job, going on a date a month or creating one new experience a month – whatever our jam is, this is the time to clearly define it and set a goal. And those goals can mirror your reflections – or not.
Once we set goals, we can direct our intentions to make those goals come to life. How do we focus our intentions so that “stuff happens?” Depak Chopra writes, “intention is the starting point of every dream. It is the creative power that fulfills all of our needs, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening, or love.” So, Depak, how does that work?
Many people find that reminders are helpful – post goals on the bathroom mirror, create a vision board or a vision box, journal and make a commitment to review that goals list once a week or once a month. If we set a goal in January that does not feel good in August, dump it. We can be flexible and allow for the space to change our minds.
Some people believe that just imagining it can make it so – those are The Secret folks. And while there is certainly magic in the Universe and sometimes those things just happen – it’s usually not the case. A friend of Kirsten has had many goals of owning a second home somewhere and the opportunity seems to appear out of nowhere – so much so that the friend’s husband has asked her to stop. This is not most of our experiences.
Other people advocate for positive thinking, but it turns out that is not what it is cracked up to be. Gabriele Oettingen is a Professor of Psychology at New York University and at the University of Hamburg. She wrote “Rethinking Positive Thinking” which synthesizes 20 years of research on the science of human motivation. The research shows that positive thinking is much less promising than we think. In the moment, positive thinking gives us pleasure, but in the long run if we simply have positive thoughts, we put in less energy and have fewer successes towards our goals. This leads to reduced happiness and loss of motivation.
Positive thinking is very helpful to explore possibilities in the future – and here is the catch, when positive thinking is combined with a good sense of reality.
It turns out that small steps and planning have a lot of influence on whether you achieve your goals.
It is important to take one small step towards your goal – and then another and another and another – and soon enough you will be there. Kirsten tells a story about Dr. Nicole LePera who essentially changed her whole life by starting with drinking a glass of water every morning to begin to hydrate her body for the day. If you want to save $1000, start with $100 – or even $10.
Another strategy is to plan, which is well articulated in a system called WOOP – in fact that is the name of the website advocating this method. According to the WOOP (which stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, plan) website, “The obstacles that we think most impede us from fulfilling our wishes can actually help us to realize them. WOOP instructs us to dream our future dreams but then to imagine what obstacles inside ourselves prevent us from achieving these dreams.” In other words, we need to understand what we want, what does getting it look like, what will get in our way and how to we get around, through or over that obstacle.
The New Year is a great time to go through this process of reflection, goal setting, intention setting and directing and goal actualization, but we can do this any time of year or multiple times a year. Our lives are precious – creating something we love will give us ease, meaning and joy!