I stopped making new year’s resolutions a while back. I could never see the point, especially considering the statistics that surround them. Just this morning the news was mentioning by the end of January, 43% of Americans will have already given up on whatever it was they resolved to do. But if not a new year’s resolution, then what? I think it’s human nature to gravitate towards the future. To think about things like goals and plans. I’ve been pondering this conundrum lately, as I’ve spent the last month taking a much needed and long breath. And I use the word breath very intentionally, rather than break. I closed my practice down over the holidays, something I’ve never done before. I went hiking with my husband out in the southwest – we visited Zion, Bryce Canyon, White Sands and many other desert hot spots.
The breath gave me time to ask myself some questions, and to do some deeper reflection on what I really want. But the questions I was asking myself were different than the ones I’ve often asked myself in the past. In the past it tended to center around goal setting. What goals do I want to set for myself this year? What do I want to accomplish? Then a logical jumping off point from that question is to then think about how to make those goals SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.
We are starting with the wrong question.
I tried asking myself these questions over my break this year, but no dice. I really tried. The answers just weren’t coming, and I did something that was hard to do – I resisted the urge to just come up with something and put it in a spreadsheet. It was really tough because the feeling of restlessness came up. I had a feeling it would come, and it was overwhelming. It was pushing me to sign up for a million different things and to try to fill my schedule with a million different activities. Restlessness is a feeling I’ll do anything to escape. I decided to sit with it instead. I looked deep into that feeling, and the patterns it can often create in my life. I asked myself what was really going on, what was sitting under the restlessness. I asked again and again, I resolved myself to feel it, and it eventually passed.
And from the bottom of that well, a different kind of question emerged. This year, I stopped asking myself, “What do I want to do?” And I started asking myself instead a different question, “How do I want to be?”
Being versus the doing
The answer was one single word that kept coming to me over and over and over again. In conversations, in dreams, in everyday life interactions. Depth. It’s become my word now for 2024, an intention that I’ve set to define my year.
- I want to increase the heart centeredness and depth of the work I do with coaching clients and with my teaching. Surface level tips and tricks alone just don’t cut it for me anymore.
- I want to deepen my practices of spirituality and my faith, in a way that is meaningful for me, by continuing to heal what needs to be healed and walking the path of spirit, even when it’s difficult.
- I want to deepen my fellowship with others and continue to practice holding an open heart with those that challenge me without giving away my power and falling into pleasing behaviors.
- I want to deepen my focus and my concentration through growing my meditation practice, in addition to the yoga practice that I also have.
- I want to deepen my connection to beauty and nature by spending more time outside. I’m still noodling on what exactly this could look like…stay tuned.
Interestingly I’m feeling very differently about 2024 having gone through this reflection and this exercise. I don’t feel the usual pangs of anxiety of “I’m not doing enough” or think about my to do list which grows and grows and how I’m going to accomplish my goals.
I’ve made different decisions in the last few weeks than I may have a year or so ago and feel more resolved into step into the space of heart centered work and depth with my clients. I’m defining more clearly who my ideal client is and who it isn’t and growing increasingly confident in setting that stake in the ground and accepting what will be will be. As a result, I’ve turned some engagements down. When you know who you really want to be, clarity of action comes. That’s the beautiful thing about alignment, but it takes courage to step into the unknown and to claim what we truly desire, especially when we’re used to following someone else’s script for what our life should look like.
Coaching questions for thought:
- How do you want to be in 2024? Who do you want to be in 2024?
- What intentions can you set for yourself that are in alignment with who you want to be?
- What goals in your life are you currently struggling to accomplish? How might shifting focus from doing to being help?
Shelley Pernot is a career and leadership coach who is passionate about helping her clients develop clarity, confidence, and compassion for self. She is particularly adept at working with high performing women who are hard on themselves. Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!