Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, decide how you want to feel.
November 21, 2021
Stasia Savasuk, presenter and internet style coach for everyday women, says the three top New Year’s resolutions in 2021 were:
1. Exercise more
2. Improve Diet
3. Lose Weight
Then she says, guess what they were in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017…:
1. Exercise more
2. Improve Diet
3. Lose Weight
Whether or not her statistics are accurate, it’s easy to relate.
She suggests the statistics represent either:
1) We suck at New Year’s resolutions, or
2) New Year’s resolutions that assume our bodies need fixing to be happy is a diet-health-beauty-wellness industry SCAM that is guaranteed to keep us hustling. Forever. Without ever seeing the results we want to see.
If number 2 was a public stock, that’s where I’d put my money.
I wouldn’t put my money on the services, products, and procedures that cost an arm and a leg and leave us feeling like failures at the end of every year. So, instead of New Year’s resolutions, I have taken a different approach for the last fifteen years or so.
Focus Words and Phrases
Each November, I begin thinking about where I am on my path to becoming more grown-up than last year.
I pick four or five focus words or phrases representing how I want to feel at the end of the following year. They identify where I want to put my attention and how I want to feel about myself. Then I capture them on an index card and carry them with me through the year.
Focus words or phrases shift your attention from achieving a particular goal to creating a feeling you want but haven’t yet fully developed.
In 2016 my focus words were:
Shining — luminous, bright, glowing, on fire, standing out
Possibility — hopes, dreams, reaching, stretching, climbing
New paths — adventure, forging, creating, sharing, daring, bold
Unconditional — leaping into, leaning into, non-resistance, love
In 2020 I came up with these focus phrases:
Write with greater boldness
Take 100% responsibility for my happiness
Don’t give up
Let Your Subconscious Do Most of the Work
To make sure you get the most out of your focus words or phrases, you’re going to put your subconscious to work.
Deanna deBara, in How to Make Your Subconscious Work for You, says, “Your subconscious mind is responsible for processing information and turning it into the belief systems and automatic thoughts and behaviors which ultimately influence your outcomes.”
So, if you let your subconscious work for you, you reduce the amount of energy you expend in trying to force change. Instead, you allow the transition to occur naturally.
Work smarter, not harder!
First, put some time into answering the question, “How do I want to feel at the end of next year?” No rush. Give yourself as much time as you need to capture words that reflect your deepest desires for yourself.
Once you have your focus words or phrases, use your subconscious to make things happen.
You do that by periodically reminding yourself how you want to be or feel. Once a month or every other month, pull out your index card and refresh your memory. Then put it away.
It’s fascinating to me that despite not pulling that card out every day or every week, I feel stronger in each category by the end of each year.
Sometimes I stop paying attention, but my subconscious never stops working.
If You Don’t Believe Me, Try This:
Think of a gnarly problem that seems unsolvable, and let your subconscious tackle it.
Put the problem in the form of a simple, one-sentence request, “Help me identify how I want to feel or who I want to be at the end of next year.”
And then go to sleep. Don’t ruminate about it. Hand it over and go to sleep.
Keep a notebook by your bed in case you wake up in the night with an answer.
Sometimes the answers will come in the night. Sometimes you’ll get answers you don’t like at first blush. Sometimes your answers will come after the first ask, but at other times it will take more than one night and one ask.
And for sure, don’t limit working with your subconscious to just this exercise. You can also ask for help solving anything that’s bugging you. For example, “Help me find a way to get along with so-and-so,” or “Please give me some ideas on what to write for my next blog post.” When you’re ready to go to sleep, offer the question up.
Interacting with your subconscious can add to your life in ways you may not have considered. For example, it can keep relationships from going into the crapper. It’s why I sleep on a loaded email for a day or two before sending it because I want to let my subconscious help me get my act together.
Sometimes that takes longer than a few days.
This year I’m doing something different. I’m focusing on only one word that represents a feeling state I want to experience more often.
Brad Stulberg, in his book The Practice of Groundedness, defines groundedness as “unwavering internal strength and self-confidence that sustains you through ups and downs.”
I want that.
At the end of 2022, I want to be experiencing a greater sense of acceptance, patience, presence, and deep community. Most of these are self-explanatory, but deep community requires some explanation. It means I won’t rely on social media to connect with people but will find ways to be with people. Maybe I’ll start a book club to explore books like Stulberg’s, which gave me the idea for my focus this year.
I experience personal ups and downs and travel with others through theirs. The last couple of years have made it even more crucial that I manage myself in healthy ways through the ups and downs that life is throwing out every other day — at least, that’s how it seems to me.
Give it a Try
Spend some time this month deciding what characteristics or feelings you want to develop more fully in 2022. Forget others’ definitions of success.
One year I put almost all my attention on having fun. It was such a great year I decided to drag it into my next years’ focus words. To this day, I laugh more, play more, and worry less about what anyone thinks of that.
Your focus words may look nothing like mine. But what we’ll have in common is that we won’t be focusing on how we look. Instead, we’ll be experiencing how we feel inside — how we feel about ourselves.
I’d love to hear your ideas. How do you want to feel, and what ideas do you have for getting there?