There’s no debate that habits, rituals, and processes are important when we desire to create something different in our outer world. This is why the entire world establishes new processes or resolutions every New Year, to start fresh with the intention of achieving or attaining something this next turn around the sun.
And yet we struggle. We struggle to maintain the new habit or keep up with the new process, even though the goal sits out there waiting. I have found two practices that have been powerful in changing this dynamic for me.
- I ask why.
Yep, asking why is very ‘in vogue’ right now. And there’s a reason. It
- Clarifies the ‘what’ of the goal
- Eliminates or evolves both the desired result AND the process
- Provides motivation that’s consistent
So taking the time to ask a few questions, whether it’s going into a new project with a team, or trying to shed some pounds, if you want the results, the time spent up front is the most valuable time you’ll put in.
Why are you doing it? What’s behind the goal?
Most of us can relate to health goals and so often they sound a lot like this: “this year I’m going to quit smoking, lose weight, get in shape, etc.”
The opportunity to go deeper here lies in one word, why?
Why do you want to quit smoking? So you can live a long healthy life and walk your daughter down the aisle one day?
Why do you want to lose weight? So you can have the energy and stamina to play more golf or play with your grandkids?
Naming the deeper reasons (and benefits) makes those goals more meaningful and will help keep you going when old habits want to take over and tell you ‘it’s ok to take today or this week off’.
The answers to your specific why, are the things that allow you shift the paradigm from pushing, striving and working against life, to being in flow and working in tandem with life.
- I look at what I DON’T want
Most of my clients tell me, “I don’t need to clarify what I don’t want. I know that already, that’s easy”
And then they do the exercise.
What are the things that you did in the past year that you are no longer willing to put your time, energy, money, or attention into? Be honest.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Include the things that you assume you have to do, that you think you should do, and the things you tell yourself ‘if I don’t do it, it won’t get done the right way’. To be clear, this is not a list of things to eliminate, change or do anything about (although you might choose to after you make the list)
This is a list to get clarity. Understanding what you don’t want opens the doorway to what you do want. It makes space and connects you to a deeper level of commitment so you’ll stick to your newly formed habits and processes.
Really take your time with this exercise, write out a list and include why. Why don’t you want to do that, what about it didn’t serve you? Then, do one of two things with your list.
- First, in a ritual setting, burn it, and as it disintegrates affirm, “I commit to letting go”.
- Second, simply sit and be present to it, ask yourself “if I wasn’t doing those things, how would I feel? What would I have space for? What might I be doing?”
This isn’t an exercise that requires an answer, it’s the beginning of a quest. Put aside your ‘I have to do it right and get an answer self’ and let your deep knowing emerge. Think of it as getting to know a new friend – who just happens to be you.
As you embark on this quest of discovering you and developing habits that serve the who you want to become, there is a truth that may not yet be a part of your reality: life wants more for you than you can ever imagine. Yes. It really does. Life is not your adversary to conquer, it is your partner to dance with.
Are you ready to dance?