Goal Setting in January? You don’t have to!
Actually... You DON'T have to set brilliant goals in this first week of January. It's all OK, the year will unfold and there will be plenty of opportunities ahead!
It was about 3pm on a dark January day, the rain was incessant and the sky was dirty grey. I had spent 2 hours taking down the decorations and hoovering the pine needles.
I laid a fire, made myself a cup of tea and lit some candles in the living room. I had already printed out a "New Year Goal Setting" workbook.
I was ready to review my year and set my oh so exciting and fabulous goals for the new year.
But it didn’t quite go as I’d expected. I pretty much drew a blank with every question in the workbook.
I tried to answer questions like this:
“What amazing things did you achieve last year?”
I thought of some things I’d achieved, but I was more comfortable with the qualifier "ok" than "amazing". What OK things did I achieve?...
“What tools and resources have helped you succeed this year?”
I couldn’t think what helped me succeed. I could, however, remember the “tools” that had sucked up my time and caused me grief and frustration when they didn’t behave as expected. I started fantasising about real tools. A hammer maybe - to smash the computer?
“What made you happiest this year?”
Ah… now THIS was a much easier question to answer. I scribbled down:
“Being outdoors, moving, getting muddy, swimming in lakes and rivers, dancing, larking around with the bloke, the company of good friends and fascinating people, cuddling my boys, laughing, being silly. Doing what I love in my business - connecting, coaching, speaking”.
Feeling more positive, I got to the part of the workbook inviting me to “manifest” an amazing year.
I still couldn’t think in terms of amazing. I wasn’t feeling inspired or fired up. I started feeling like a fraud. Surely I should be able to describe my plans for the year at the click of my fingers? I'm a bloody Coach, FFS! I'm supposed to TEACH other people this stuff.
On that early January afternoon, with the decorations waiting to be carried up to the loft and Christmas day a distant memory, with the incessant rain still falling from the lowest, darkest of skies, the only amazing thing I could think of manifesting was a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
Then I read 4 words that were supposed to inspire me, but which actually made me feel like crawling under a blanket and hibernating…
“YOUR BEST YEAR YET”
Have you heard that phrase? More than once, perhaps? I’m guilty as charged - it’s a phrase that I have used myself in previous years. But “your best year yet” wasn’t doing it for me.
I wondered how I’d feel about this phrase if, like many people, I was in the middle of a big life challenge.
Of course, we can set intentions and get really positive and follow through on our intentions. But there WILL be downs as well as ups throughout the year. Let’s face it, none of us will come to the end of 2017 with jaw-ache because we had a grin of positivity, inspiration and sheer amazingness fixed to our face for 365 days.
And that’s perfectly normal and fine.
But I could feel myself getting anxious about it. One of the voices in my head - Ms Inner Critic, a frequent and vociferous visitor on grey days - had already piped up:
“Call yourself a Coach? Call yourself a positive person? You’re a FRAUD. How can you coach people when you can’t even set your New Year goals. Pah! You're doomed to fail. Remember..thoughts become things. Look what you're manifesting. Winners think BIG”
I listened to Ms Inner Critic, stayed with the anxious feelings and got curious…
What if it doesn’t matter if I’m not feeling inspired?
What if I’m just buying into a load of self-development “thou shalt” dogma without applying my own common sense to it?
So what if I don’t feel particularly excited right now?
Which is when the other strange voice in my head - Ms Inner Coach - gently whispered…
“There are LOTS of people struggling with goal setting in January”
So I created a little meme on my phone to express my feelings, thinking it might help one or two people to read it. I wrote:
“Actually… you DON’T have to set brilliant goals in this first week in January. It’s all OK… the year will unfold and there will be plenty of opportunities ahead."
If you’re all fired up, you’ve set great goals and you’re in the mindset that 2017 will be your best year ever, then this is FANTASTIC and I’m cheering you on.
However, if you are feeling a bit “meh”, not quite ready to take on 2017 or just a bit unclear as to what a great year will look like, then don't despair..
Here’s how to feel positive at the start of the New Year, even when you're not feeling particularly positive:
1. First of all, here’s your PERMISSION SLIP:
* You hereby have my permission to feel less than brilliant or amazing in January.
* It’s OK if you’re not ready to set goals.
* It’s OK if you’re still transitioning from Christmas.
* And guess what, you don’t even have to set a date by when you WILL set goals.
* Let it be - I know it feels uncomfortable. You want to feel good and that will come. Just go with the flow!
2. Here’s what you absolutely do NOT HAVE to do at the start of this new year:
* Set any goals
* Set the intention that this will be your best year yet
* Take part in Dry January
* Take part in any challenges
* Go on a detox
* Stick to multiple uber challenging new year's resolutions (just pick a tiny on instead!)
* Beat yourself up because you broke your New Year’s resolution today or even on 2nd January
You can do any of these things right now, if you're feeling fired up and inspired. But if you're not, then you can wait until next week. Or even the 1st of February. There are no rules here. You can change any aspect of your life on any day.
3. Seek your moments of “flow”
When do you feel “in flow”? Being in flow is when you are so captivated and happy in your present moment that Ms/Mr Inner Critic shuts up about you being not quite good enough or asking you why your life isn’t more perfect.
Moments of flow are when you are absolutely present in this moment. It might be walking in the countryside, laughing with your best friend, when you’re in a team meeting and you’re brainstorming ideas. It might be when you’re in a warm bath reading a trashy novel or stroking a pet. You could be swimming, dancing, climbing, singing, playing the ukulele or driving your car with the radio turned up loud with one of your favourite tunes.
The trick to experiencing more moments of flow is tuning into your core values. What makes you feel that you are truly alive, living in integrity, soaring? Usually, our moments of flow are fully aligned to one or more of our core values. For example, I love being outdoors, I love meeting new people - values of freedom/adventure and of connection. So I’m in flow when I’m doing something outdoors or engaged in a fascinating conversation.
And here’s the thing - The more you can seek out and indulge in your moments of flow, the more you’ll start to feel inspired, see opportunities and get clear on what you DO want this year. You'll soon get inspired to set some oh so fabulous and amazing goals for your....
Best. Year. Yet.
Amanda has been helping talented women to step up in their career,
business and life since 2003. She is currently offering her 3 part video
coaching programme, Career Confidence 101, free of charge at www.amandaalexander.com/cc101