The tough-talking Queen of Vulnerability, Brene Brown, refers to the predictable pattern of New Year’s Resolutions and it goes like this:
January 1 This resolution is going to be awesome!
January 5 I’m awesome.
January 10 This sucks.
January 20 I suck.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. For many, the new year is about a renewed sense of hope – this is the year we’re going to have more of what we want and less of what we don’t want. More courage/less fear. More productivity/less procrastination. More genuine connection with ourselves and others/less worry. More creativity/less stress.
But wanting something badly enough isn’t always enough. Most of us know from experience that – good intentions and all – traditional goal-setting, alone, doesn’t always work. So many things are competing for our attention these days – we often feel torn between our responsibilities at work and at home. Between taking care of others and taking time out for our own physical, mental, and spiritual health and well-being, which is often the first that gets left behind.
Some of us make a list of resolutions at the beginning of the year, give it our best shot, and hope for the best. Then real life happens – everyday distractions, frustrations, obligations, disappointments and other challenges. And not much changes.
One of the reasons this happens is we haven’t taken the time to ask ourselves what values we want to be honoring. A value is a principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable. Values provide the foundation on which the things we consider important are built. They help guide our decisions and motivate us to take action, achieve balance, and gain a sense of satisfaction in our lives. They help us to create the future we want to be living into.
Many of us don’t take the time to think about our values until we experience a crisis or personal challenge. But you don’t have to wait until the sh*t hits the fan to align your values with your actions. By focusing on what’s important to us, we can reaffirm our sense of identity and empower ourselves to live a more authentic and courageous life.
When times are stormy, values are like a lighthouse, preventing us from drifting off course and anchoring us to our sense of self. In good times, values are the wind in our sails propelling us to live fully and with purpose.
So, before you go straight to goal-setting, take some time to connect with your values. Try this: think about the year ahead and have your future December 2020 self describe to your NOW self what values you aligned yourself with and WHY.
Ayn Rand spent her life developing her “philosophy for living on earth” and emphatically concluded that, “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”
I second that.
For more on how to clarify your values you can go to a blog I posted here last February The Value Of Knowing And Living Our Values