As someone quite impulsive and afraid of failure, I usually hate to write down goals and plans in case I fail to achieve them. In fact, writing down my goals solidifies them in my head and more often than not, I actually achieve them and more. It's as if the intention to make them happen exists and moves me in that direction well before I even start to work out HOW.
For so many of us, there’s the pressure to see the crossover of December and January as a definitive end and beginning. In fact, we are always working in progress, always evolving and adapting. This is not a barrier to leap over but rather we flow from one year to the next and we can do so gracefully.
This graceful transition means that we act from a place of insight, compassion, and reflection on where we are and where we want to be and rather than indulging a sense of fear and self-criticism, we make goals and plans that we are realistic about. When you really reflect, when you appreciate what you’ve learned and experienced this year, the sort of goals and hopes you have are likely to be an evolution of what you’re already achieving and doing.
Perhaps you are working for yourself and it’s not turning out as successfully as you hoped in terms of personal satisfaction and financial stability. Rather than set a goal of making a certain amount of money, or gaining a particular client, could you set a goal of making time to check in with a mentor, attend networking events, subscribe to a newsletter or podcast that has specific advice that will improve your situation?
Perhaps you’re feeling stagnant in your yoga practice – you haven’t mastered bakasana despite attempting it in every class and you spend savasana wondering if it’s weak abdominals or if there’s some inherent inability in you to go further. Rather than saying THIS year I’ll do crow pose. What if you set a goal of making time to practice that particular pose each week, or you schedule a private class with one of your trusted teachers and make that your focus? This way, your goal becomes to progress, rather than to either succeed or fail a very specific goal.
For many of us, our approach to movement and food, finding a harmonious balance between our spiritual, personal and professional endeavors too, can be put under the spotlight when we are evaluating our year and our lives. I commonly hear people making goals of losing weight, or improving their diet or stopping drinking altogether. These all tick the boxes as far as “Good Things To Want To Achieve” but what value do they have for you, individually?
Rather than losing 4 kilos, eating less snacks or drinking kale juice instead of beer, what if you questioned your values and whether your choices are aligned? So, if – as a yogi – you believe in nourishing, nurturing and preparing the body for a life of harmony with all living beings and the natural world, going on a diet purely to lose weight or denying yourself foods and beverages you enjoy purely to look like Instagram clickbait would be a self-punishment.
For me, when I find myself eating too much or getting into a routine of the same, boring meals day after day, I check in with what I know makes me feel good and what excites me. When I go to Bali, I eat a lot of raw food and each meal is different – a rainbow – rich in organic vegetables, plant-based sauces, seeds, and rice. I feel satiated in a way that scoffing down a vegan falafel wrap in the car between meetings just doesn’t achieve. What I’m getting at is that for all the goals we make, those behaviors and attitudes are what really need reflection and evolution.
If I know I can’t book Bali and just run off to reset my eating behavior, I consider what it is about being in Bali that enables me to eat peacefully, moderately and with a sense of harmony and I try to recreate that in my daily life. The same applies to my yoga practice. While I might have three deadlines to meet, an inbox full of queries and a few bills to pay when I walk into morning class, I can still come into class and appreciate that everyone else there has stories too and yet, when we are on the mat, we are in a practice that is ancient and sacred and all that exists beyond the mat will still be there to work on later.
Don’t feel you need to make goals that you’ll achieve by yourself either. Ask for help, ask for support and share your goals with people that you trust. Sometimes, sharing our goals with everyone and their second cousin only invites ridicule, questioning and, in some cases, envy. Be protective of your goals and your values. Know why you want to achieve what you’ve planned for yourself and what it would mean to you so that opinions and judgments don’t penetrate and sting. When you make your goals, make them from a place of really questioning what matters to you and ask for help. Accept that maybe you won’t achieve those goals exactly as you think you should when you think you should.
Bhagavad Gita reminds us to act with our values and our dedication to a higher Being or consciousness at the core of all thought, action, and intention. To accept also, that while we can act with intention, we cannot force particular results and so we must approach life with a sense of acceptance, without hate or love in excess.
“You have the right to do, but you have no right to expect a particular result from what you do because the consequence of an action is determined by various factors over which you have no control. Hence, surrender the fruits of your actions to God, and engage yourself in action in this world, perform your duties, go on with your vocations in the spirit of true Karma Yoga. And, be an ideal person. Hate not, love not.” – Chapter 15, Bhagavad Gita.
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