I think we’re all feeling a little cautious walking into 2021. With so many plans gone awry last year, it’s hard to feel like we can lay down solid expectations for what’s to come. Will it even be worth the resolutions? Honestly, ‘resolutions’ feel a little tired anyway. It doesn’t mean we’re skipping the tradition altogether… just modifying a bit. 😉
Goals vs. Objectives
When it comes to forward-looking ‘resolution’ alternatives, some people love goals, others love intentions. But I believe in both!! A goal without intention boils down to simple benchmarking, without any real emotional significance. And with all intention and no action, you’re just in your head!
To put on my therapist hat for a minute… this is why cognitive behavioral therapy works! It combines both intention and goal to create new neural pathways. Identifying a thought pattern is the first step to challenging old behaviors and creating new habits. Otherwise, our resolutions can fall flat. Before long, all that positive energy starts to sputter out and all that momentum starts to swing the other way.
To by-pass the pendulum, both our intentions and goals are critical. The intention reminds us of our “why,” that magic motivator. Meanwhile, the goal gives us a tangible objective to measure our success. The thought and action components work together in a symbiotic push and pull!
Getting Down to Business
With the science in mind, I’ve set my intention, and a few goals for how I want this new thought pattern to manifest in my life. This year, I’m holding my intention as a mantra:
I’m going to show the Universe I mean business.
For me, this means getting in control of my finances and my fitness! This year, I want to teach myself to stay the course, instead of swinging on peaks and valleys. As an Aries, consistency can feel boring to me. My favorite thing is to jump into new situations with both feet! Repetitive activities and dense money-talk? Not my jam.
I totally had a Moment on New Year’s Day. I was learning the features of the YNAB tool, and I realized my good intentions alone weren’t cutting it. And neither were my lofty goals! They needed to meet somewhere in the middle in order to work together.
Without my intention to stay centered, my goals felt overwhelming and impossible.
And with only my goals in mind, it was as if I was magically waiting for things to take care of themselves.
I cried. But then I took accountability. After all, it’s my responsibility to put my goals and intentions together. 2021 is reallllly stretching myself to do what I hate. There are so many things I’ve been avoiding, because I don’t want to face reality. Typically, I would jump first and ask questions later. But there are always consequences, even when I’d rather ignore them to get that buzz of instant gratification.
For every Target run, there is a (really long) receipt. And for every unhealthy food choice, there’s the guilty feeling that comes after. I can’t keep justifying my cake, cookies and soda with a “stressful moment.” HELLO, practically all of 2020 was a stressful moment! At a certain point, the choices we make in the face of stress become habits. And in this new year, I’m going to break them and make new ones.
Because I mean business!!
Eyes on the Prize
2020 taught me that even when everything is out of control, I still get to control MY reaction. And I realized I often use avoidance as a coping mechanism, allowing myself to get swept up in short-term, feel-good self-soothing over the actual hard work of true self-care. It’s not easy, but it’s important to living a life that feels intentional rather than reactionary.
Right now, it seems like an uphill battle. Our house is upside-down in renovation, with everything scattered in a million different directions. But I know that in a few months, it won’t feel this way. And in a few more months, making better choices will be a lot easier (in part due to a whole new kitchen… stay tuned!) A few months after that, things will be totally different. And by the end of the year, I’ll be really, really happy I got down to business.