Since I discussed the reasons why I believe most resolutions fail, I thought it would be fair to add how I go about that. Writing down goals leads to a stronger likelihood they will be accomplished, and with that in mind, I always have two lists: yearly goals and life goals (talked about it here in my Instagram video). Yearly goals are self-explanatory – it is all the things that I wish to achieve, experience, and be a part of in the upcoming year. Whenever a new goal comes up for me, I add it to my list. This helps me with keeping myself accountable and being intentional about taking charge of things in my life that are in my control. The life goals list is sort of a dream list (or a bucket list) of all the experiences and things I’d love to have and experience at one point in my life. Keeping my desires and goals on the forefront of my mind is important to me as I want to lead a fulfilling and rich life, filled with adventure, joy, and meaning. I don’t want to sleepwalk through my life, which can easily happen if we don’t make decisions and let circumstances dictate what happens next.
Goals aside, I do have an intention that I chose to help guide me through the year. This year, it is to be more courageous. In 2020, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone A LOT! This year I want to expand that growth and focus on cultivating and embodying the value of courage. So, this year I will keep asking myself: How can I be more courageous in my life?
This question will be my guide throughout this year. I love questions because they can be so powerful, especially if we are willing to hear the answers. They require us to be creative, think outside of our conventional ways, and hear what arises from within, even if don’t like the answers.
My personal aspiration/intention/resolution, whatever you want to call it, for this year is to be BOLD & COURAGEOUS. This means that I will rely on the question above to guide me when:
I’ve thought about this a lot. I truly believe that my purpose and mission in life is to transcend my own limitations, break old generational patterns, and live a bold life beyond what I ever thought would be possible for me. AND to help and inspire others who want the same for themselves, who long to stop settling, and who want more from life.
I believe that if I am not brave in my life, I can’t inspire others to be brave in theirs. I know that if I’m hiding myself, I can’t show others what it’s like to be authentic. If I am settling and abandoning my desires and ambitions, can I really tell someone else to dream big and that anything is possible for them?
To me, what courage really means is being my true, authentic self, discovering parts of me that I abandoned or felt unsafe to show, and trusting myself. This sounds easier than it actually is. We become conditioned by our circumstances in so many ways. This can be particularly difficult for those of us who weren’t encouraged to trust ourselves, who learned to hide, not have many needs, and rely on others to give them, tell them, and show them how to live.
In order to unlearn these ways and become free of this conditioning, we must wake up to our own life and ask ourselves: Did I choose this, and do I want to keep choosing it? Am I living my life, or do I feel more like a character in someone else’s story? How can I claim back the power over my own life?
I know this is a journey and there is always something new to uncover and learn (which makes it exciting). I want to be fully awake for my life with everything it has to offer. Who’s with me?
If you are a high-achiever and always have a long to-do list, it is likely that you are familiar with a nagging voice that just won’t let you relax. The one that keeps telling you that if you take time to slow down, everything will fall apart. The one that steals the peace of your present day and convinces you that if you worry some more, you might come up with a solution to all your problems. The one that tells you that who you are isn’t good enough, so you need to read that next book, attend that latest self-development course, be better, do more, and follow in the steps of others who seem to have cracked the code so they must know better than you. Then, maybe, you will finally feel content and confident in who you are. Then, you will be happy, fulfilled, and will be able to relax.
I call this nagging voice a thieve of joy and peace. It creates rumination, overthinking, and self-judgment, and it takes over so fast that before you know it, you are down the rabbit hole chasing and wrestling with stories that either belong to the past or to the future. It arises in thoughts, feelings, sensations, or images that trick us into believe that their messages are facts and that what they’re telling us has merit to it.
Oftentimes, in attempts to silence that voice, you may put a lot of effort into trying to predict possible outcomes and do everything to control the situations you are about to face. That control seemingly keeps your anxiety at bay because it creates a false sense of comfort and predictability. But the more you do to placate the internal anxiety, the more tension, panic, and fear it creates, leaving you unable to deal with things you didn’t anticipate.
If you grew up in constant scarcity, your life narrative becomes one of struggle and hardship. This script says that, only through hard work can you have the life you want, only after suffering can you experience ease, only if you are constantly ahead is when you are not falling behind. Then finally, you may come out the other side as a victor. But unfortunately, this story doesn’t end there. Instead of relishing in that victory, celebrating yourself, and soaking in the good moments, you start anticipating the next struggle. You anxiously wait, unable to relax because you learned that you need to be prepared, you need to control, put effort, try harder, and do more… or you will fail.
You may notice this voice or sensations most clearly when you sit down to relax and do anything that’s not considered “productive” by our standards. That little voice might say “what are you doing enjoying yourself and being all self-indulgent?” It might be telling you there are things you COULD or SHOULD be accomplishing instead of just being and not fighting the next big fight and suffering.
Throughout my life, the narratives that fueled me were ones of an underdog. Opportunities appeared only after struggles. I was fascinated by stories of those who made it through major adversities and came out on the other side, not merely surviving, but thriving! My mom and I would watch the Oprah Show on our old black and white TV, and I would be completely drawn into the story my mom was telling me about Oprah and how she made it through it all. That was the first seed planted in me that if I just work hard enough, I can succeed.
In different chapters of my life, I was constantly searching, working hard, unable to relax, and being pulled towards the next big thing. Constant anxiety made it difficult to truly celebrate all the accomplishments that seemed so distant at one point. Had I not had this voice pushing me and nudging me, my life would have been very different and perhaps I wouldn’t have accomplished most of the things I dreamed of.
But at some point, I noticed that this feeling of restlessness felt unnecessary, draining, & tiresome. It kept arising any time I would slow down and relax. As if I anticipated that the good things in my life were about to last only for a short while and my next struggle will find me unprepared. I kept having to remind myself that this is an old voice that doesn’t serve me anymore, and that good things can last and don’t always have to be preceded by difficulty and lack. Letting go of the control became an intentional act of self-trust and faith that I deserve peace and happiness even when I don’t suffer.
If you find yourself constantly controlling every little action and putting a lot of effort into predicting outcomes, you are not allowing for effortless opportunities to come to you. Sometimes the most difficult act is to let go and simply trust; to notice the anxiety and let it be there; to hear that little voice saying you’re not good enough, and believe you are in spite of it, to notice the discomfort of your feelings and further lean into them.
A few tips for dealing with the internal critic, anxiety, & overthinking.