I've never been a big New Year's Resolution guy. Oh, sure - I do like to sit down periodically and take stock of where I am and what I'd like to emphasize going forward for some period of time. And yes, the beginning of the year is a good time to do that - fresh calendar, new year, a chance for a beginning and maybe an ending or two. But for some reason, the traditional resolution has never worked very well for me, and I haven't really set out to do that in a very long time.
It happened that very recently, I was in a meeting with coaching colleagues. We get together via Zoom every two weeks for an hour, and we take turns selecting a topic and leading the session. The topic of the meeting was goal setting. The leader asked what each of us has learned from our many years of experience setting goals at the beginning of a new year. The majority of the group worked in the corporate world at some point, a world in which annual goal-setting is a required ritual.
I was amazed at the wisdom and consistency that came out of the conversation! The first response was along the lines of "I've learned that hard goals are a recipe for failure and feeling bad about myself". I now set "intentions" rather than goals. An intention might sound like "I want to focus more on my health this year" - instead of a resolution that might sound like "I'm going to lose 10 pounds this year", or "I'm going to exercise 3 times a week this year". An intention gives more room for growth - to experiment, learn, and be creative. More importantly, it focuses on progress and not on an arbitrary target. It thus has a much higher likelihood of being inspirational and easier to stick with than a resolution's fixed finish line. This more positive approach can help us stay at it, and even go beyond what we thought possible.
The second piece of wisdom was "Yes - intention - and I try to select intentions that are aligned with my vision for myself - the kind of person I wish to be". In our Healing Care vernacular - "in tune with my true identity and moving me toward that identity". Beautiful!
The third wise counsel was "and I select only a very few intentions that are simple and realistic". I must say that, I have, in recent years, found this "small steps" approach to be far less daunting and more gratifying. It builds momentum rather than running me into a wall of defeat. This step requires us to ask ourselves "why". Why is this intention important to me? And it is really a series of nested "whys". For example - "I want to focus on my health more this year". Why? Because I will live longer. Why is living longer an important goal? Because I want to be there for my children and grandchildren - to help them grow into fine women and men, and to celebrate the milestones in their lives. Why is that an important intention? - and so on, until it is clear that this particular intention is one I believe in, I really want to pursue, and I can clearly see a path forward to doing just that. This last pearl is a little subtle in the fact that it causes us to consider what's required and realistic, and it causes us to ask what might have to be shifted or shed to make room for the new intention. We might ask ourselves "what expectations do I have that may get in the way of this intention?". Having identified those, I can then ask "how important are those expectations in light of this intention?". The answer may allow me to jettison things that are no longer as important as this intention I have formed.
This seemingly innocent topic led to an outstanding conversation about how we can periodically re-center ourselves into our God-given identities and move with intention toward the best version of ourselves in a way that is motivating, realistic, and fulfilling. May each of you press into whatever chapter of your journey you find yourself in - secure in the knowledge that He loves you and will be with you always!
After spending over 30 years in the corporate world in various executive roles, Doug began a new career as an executive coach and consultant. He was introduced to Healing Care Ministries in 2008, and is now on a lifetime healing journey. He lives in Westerville , Ohio with his wife of 44 years (Sally). They have 2 children and 3 grandchildren. He loves to travel with Sally, and spend time with his grandkids.