We all want to be more productive, creative, fulfilled, ________ (fill-in-the-blank). There are an infinite number of ways to get there. Reading, listening to podcasts, and attending conferences are a few typical options, but there is no one-size fits-all solution.
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In Creating Calling, I developed a simple image to help understand the relationship between mindset, habits and goals. I call it the creative pyramid. To reach a desired outcome, we need to find what works for us.
Bas Verplanken, a professor of social psychology at the University of Bath, says that the success of a resolution is one which alters a habit. This should be your aim in the New Year. Don’t wait to implement changes. Harness the energy you have right now and get started.
It’s not “motivation” that makes the changes stick. The key to success is changing the habit.
Remember – It’s the small, daily changes that lead to big changes over time. The first step in changing your habits and developing new ones is fostering awareness. Obviously, the new year is an opportunity to pause and reflect. I always sit down around the beginning of the year to take stock of the previous year, and evaluate my mindset, habits, and goals. Below are 6 prompts I ask myself to dig a little deeper in self-reflection and stay committed to my goals. If you want to try it yourself, I’ve included them below. Hope you give yourself a little time and space to reflect.
Some of these prompts are short, while others may inspire you to pause and spend some time thinking about. Discomfort is a normal part of this self-reflection. The deeper you go and the more honest you are with yourself, the better. Let’s begin.
#1: How would you rate your overall life harmony in the past year? (On a scale of 1-10, no 7s allowed)
Consider harmony instead of balance, as balance isn’t always possible. What are three things that create more harmony? What is one thing that is taking up too much time/energy/attention?
#2: Rate your level of burnout. (On a scale of 1-10, no 7s allowed)
Burnout is the sense that you are working as hard as possible with little result. If you focus on contentment—for example, the frequency with which you’ve succeeded in going to the gym, without necessarily seeing results just yet—the knowledge that you are taking part in the process can lessen that sense of burnout.
If you answer 6 or below, what are one or two things that you could ideate on the fly, without overthinking, that you could do to address the root cause of your burnout?
#3: Where does your tension live?
Physically, where do you feel it? In your chest? neck? And when? Is it in the late-night negative thoughts, or maybe the early morning stress? It is important to thoroughly examine the symptoms to realize just how powerful this balance can be.
#4: One year from now, what is the habit you hoped to have developed?
Maybe it’s a new, healthier morning routine. Or a meditation, awareness or gratitude practice. Maybe it’s as simple as twenty push-ups a day. Give yourself some grace: resist judging yourself for time you think you’ve wasted. Who you are now has no bearing on who you will be a year from now. So, take a moment and consider this new habit.
#5: Make your More/Less list
On a clean piece of paper, draw two columns. The first column is of things you would like to do more. The second column is things you would like to do less. More laughter, less negative self-talk, you get the point. This is a living document I like to revisit throughout the year.
#6: What is the one thing you would choose to prioritize letting go of?
It’s not a rejection or ejection of that one thing. Simply letting go. Maybe it’s a role you play in your family or your life story that you’ve cemented as “capital T” truth after telling it to yourself again and again. Maybe it’s a past trauma that you are going to approach and deal with in therapy. It’s that one thing you can eliminate to help you become more essential.
That’s it, six prompts. Remember, these aren’t here to bring about catharsis. We are simply trying to improve awareness. Don’t worry if you feel like you are approaching the prompts with little in the way of response. Give yourself a moment or two for reflection, then write.
The goal here is greater awareness to help us change our habits. What do you want to have accomplished a year from now? What’s on your MORE / LESS list? And what can you let go of?
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