There is no goal that will be abandoned faster than the one that is made to please someone else. So often when we make resolutions, we do it while thinking about how we want to appear to others.
We want to be thinner, we want to be more successful, we want to make our parent figures proud.
But this is the surest way to disappointment because I can tell you that in my years of practice, it has become painfully obvious that unless a goal is made from the heart- your heart- you will have exactly none of the motivation to see it through.
We often deny our desires, think of any kind of focus on our WANTS as selfish. As women, we are often taught to look at everyone else’s wants and needs first. Then, if we are lucky, we might have time to meet our own NEEDS. But what about our WANTS?
What fills us with joy? What makes us tick?
Our goals for ourselves need to be deeply connected to those wants.
If the want is to lose weight, it needs to be for US, not for everyone else.
It’s important to remember that sometimes our wants do revolve around love. Sometimes we want to be better for our loved ones, to be there for them. But if this is a deep desire, it must come from a personal place. Instead of wanting to be there for them, we want to be there WITH them.
This is the change that makes a goal successful: first, think about what you really want, think about what you crave at your deepest core.
If it is a feeling, an emotion, a sense of peace, take that response and find a tangible expression for it. What would it take for you, as you are now, to become the version of yourself that feels those things?
Doing this deep work is called finding your WHY and it changes you from making arbitrary goals that don’t go very far, to goals that you can connect to in the long term.
Put simply, you will do the work because you want it enough.
It sounds easy but experience has taught me that connecting to our TRUE desire is one of the hardest things we do as people, especially as women.
For more on this topic and setting realistic goals for the year, check out my latest podcast, Episode 32: Setting Realistic Goals. Link in the bio.
When I planned the content of this month out late last year, I expected the energy of January to be similar to other years- lots of forward-looking hope, excitement and motivation for positive change.
What happened instead is a collective heaviness has settled over all of us.
There is a darkness, an anger, and a resignation that I think many of us feel.
Why is the world so painful? Why is the human experience so heavy? Why is happiness so hard to grasp on to?
It seems strange to talk about goals for the year when so many of us are still processing last year and right now and nothing seems clear.
If you are feeling that way, I just want to validate you. This is not a normal year, what you are feeling is what a lot of us are feeling.
We have two options when things are overwhelming: we let our emotions flood and control us, or we sit with those emotions and let them flow through us. We breathe and ponder. These two things may look the same from the outside but they are very different.
Maybe none of us learn to process this time correctly, maybe we all are traumatized forever. But maybe we also find a way forward, find a way through.
We don’t have to make changes this second. We don’t even have to make them this week.
But setting goals does help us. It helps us remember that while everything else may be out of our control, the way we take care of ourselves and respond to our physical and emotional needs is very much within our control.
My first job out of college was as a hospital chaplain resident, helping care for spiritual needs of those on the renal unit.
I did my best, though I knew almost nothing of life and it’s pain. But I was struck with what felt like such futility.
What use is caring for someone’s spiritual needs while they are trapped in a miserable human body? These people needed more than a prayer, they needed a plan.
We have concrete human bodies for a reason and caring for them is a spiritual practice, despite how earth bound it can feel.
And I have found over the years that when we care for our physical bodies, it leaves emotional space for deeper spiritual practice. Its easier to meditate when your back doesn’t ache. It’s easier to pray when you don’t have a splitting headache. It’s easier to pursue a purpose when you aren’t stuck in the hospital.
So take care of yourselves. Make plans to take care of yourselves.
What does that look like to you?
Is it hormonal balance or bringing your cholesterol down or reducing joint pain or flare ups?
Or is it simply taking more time for yourself? Enforcing boundaries? Turning off notifications and remembering we live in a real tangible world that exists outside of our phones?
It’s probably a little of both. And that’s important. Our physical health and mental health revolve around each other in an intricate dance.
For me, I’m going to remind myself often that we cannot pour from empty cups and when the world is heavy, it is especially important to take time alone to recharge.
I’m also going to work towards reaching further to uplift and inspire however I can.
I’m going to eat well and go to sleep early and keep watching the sun rise.
And I will continue to seek the truth in all things. Sending love to you all!