The cusp a New Year is a great time to reflect, and yes to dream big, connecting to your heart’s deepest yearnings — what you want to see, create and choose to bring ever closer into your life in the coming year.
Setting goals is great exercise, proven to make a difference, especially if you use research-based approaches, such as setting “smart” goals. There’s another exercise to consider, however: Re-storying “the story” of your life. Ultimately, this should be considered pre-requisite to effective goal-setting.
Before going to a timeline exercise that supports this process, first consider why restorying your life may be the key to unleashing the power you have to achieve your dreams and goals.
It has to do with becoming aware and understanding certain realities that impact your existence because they govern human life as we know it.
Reality number one: change is a constant companion.
It always has been, and always will be. This is a reality that cannot be altered. The question here is whether you will play a passive — or active — role in the process.
If an active role, be open to consciously wearing three hats that actively involve you as: a creator, observer and choice maker. Most change occurs subconsciously, thus passively reinforcing or building upon already existing patterns of behavior, some of which may be problematic and block you from realizing your goals! It’s not unusual to fear and resist change because of its accompanying discomfort. Even with resistance, small changes occur in directions that can limit possibilities for healthy change. (Whenever you’ve felt stuck, for example, this type of rigidifying-change is taking place.)
Reality number two: Your thoughts shape your reality at every level, emotional, mental, physical.
You are the only one who creates your experiences. Your thoughts accordingly produce your experience, behaviors and outcomes. What comes into your life comes in by the power of your thoughts. Chances are you have a good deal of life experiences that have produced a full range of emotions, on the one hand, joys and celebrations, on the other, sorrow and disappointments. Have you considered however how your thought-responses activate inner structural changes in your brain and body, emotional responses and behavioral outcomes? To understand how much leverage you have in creating the happy life and experiences you aspire is the first step to accepting the miracle making power of a capacity that’s yours for the asking (and practicing!).
Reality number three: You always have a choice. No exceptions.
Ultimately, the power of making choices rests on how you respond in any given moment or situation. To rewire and rework old habits, you must be willing to experiment with a new way of approaching certain situations, and of course freeing yourself to fully accept that, yes indeed, you really, really, really do have a choice in what you say or do — and then to observe the different outcomes you yourself produce, more specifically, whether they are overall life enriching or life harming. It’s a great exercise of the mind. You may need to give yourself permission to re-story your life. Whenever possible, allow yourself to be in awe this innate human ability for no less than: possibility thinking. It’s amazingly powerful capacity, and some might even say miracle-making.
Reality number four: Your power to choose only exists in the present.
In its purest most potent form — the power to make choices that create a new life and experience of yourself in relation to life in and around you … always rests in the present moment. Life does not wait, so beware of “waiting” games of the mind. It’s in present moments that you will consider new ways of creatively responding that rewire old patterns. You may wish to observe your thoughts when you complete day to day activities, such as washing dishes, getting ready for work or driving the car. Then notice that, in order to do so, you must access one of the most amazing and uniquely human abilities, that is: the ability to think about your thoughts.
A few guidelines.
When you make a commitment to restorying your life stroy, and embrace these four realities as constants, you’re opening yourself up to new possibilities for consciously re-storying your life.
It’s not easy at it sounds, however. It’s a process in which you are developing an awareness of the power you have to choose what you focus on and create, what actions you take, and what meanings and outcomes you produce.
That’s no small matter! It’s a life study of yourself as a means of greater understanding life around you. It worth the effort.
Here are a few tips to develop your practice:
- Become aware of your thoughts in present moments, especially how you think and speak of yourself and life (also others). What parts do you like and want in your future? What emotions do these activate? What physical feelings are produced in your body? Record this information in your journal in separate sections or pages for “Empowering Thoughts” versus “Thoughts to Transform.”
- Record the unhelpful or “toxic thinking” patterns that you want to transform on the left hand side of the page — so that you go back later, and decide what thoughts you’d prefer to think in the particular situations.
- Similarly become aware of any “limiting beliefs” that the toxic thoughts are connected to. Record these on the left hand side of pages in your journal, titled “Beliefs to Transform,” so that you may return later to decide what inspiring or empowering beliefs about yourself (and those around you) would be more aligned to your goals and highest aspirations, for example, beliefs that you and loved ones are capable, infinitely amazing, and that there are no exceptions to what changes a motivated, inspired, determined human being can create!