Turned off by resolutions? I am. BUT I do love the practice of reflection and growing into the person you want to be. And inasmuch as every day is a great day to start, a new year feels like a line of demarcation - you get to draw a line in the sand to leave behind parts of what will be “old you” and start putting your energy into upgrading yourself, one day at a time.
Too often the goals we set are based on solely external things. Our society is pretty externally focused after all. The research shows us, however, that living isn’t thriving. The absence of disease doesn’t equal health. So, the below is a way to set yourself up to thrive - based on the science of what our brains need to thrive. It breaks thriving up into 5 categories. First, let’s see where we stand in each. Rank where you stand (1 being “Always” to 10 being “Never”) in the following 5 areas.
Important note: there are no wrong or bad answers, the more honest you are, the more you get out of this exercise. Remember, this is a BRAVE conversation with yourself, meaning that your intention is to be present and build rapport (or trust) with yourself, to give yourself the space to truly listen to whatever answers arises and meet any vulnerability with acceptance and empathy, not judgement. Judgement (of others and of self) keep you stuck, while acceptance and curiosity have the capacity to expand you beyond what you perceive to be possible.
OK, now for the questions:
1): How often do you feel positive emotion (these can include: simple contentment, joy, love, satisfaction, gratitude, awe)?
2): How often do you feel like you’re so engaged in what you’re doing that you lose track of time?
3): How often do you feel satisfied in your relationships?
4): How often do you feel like you are living a life of meaning?
5): How often do you feel a sense of accomplishment?
Each question stands for one of the 5 elements of thriving.
P = positive emotion, this is the whole spectrum from quiet contentment, to giggling and being silly, to feeling peaceful, to jumping up and down and dancing with joy, to awe... you don't need to feel them all, but if there's one that you can isolate as "I want more of that!" go for it!
E = engagement, what do you love doing? The thing you'd do for free, when no one is watching... the thing that fuels you. If you don't do much that you lose yourself in now, think back to when you were a kid. What did you do for hours on end?
R = relationships, this refers to all of your relationships. There's inevitably one or two that could use some attention, or perhaps you feel good in one on one relationships but could use a greater sense of community...
M = meaning, this can mean many things to many people. Do you life a life of meaning, impact and purpose can encompass little things and big things. Note that meaning doesn't have to come from work, it can, but if you have a hobby, devotion to family, friends, community, these things can provide tons of meaning as well.
A = accomplishment, this simply asks if you feel like you're moving forward, growing, progressing toward who you want to be. It can look like tangible success (which is how it's typically defined, promotion, awards, etc). or it could be accomplishments of learning, making a change, growing or improving yourself and your mastery in some way that is important to you.
How did you do? Expect that one or two could be higher and one or two could be quite low. Again, there are no "good" or "bad" answers, just a guide to show you where you've been putting your energy and perhaps where you might want to shift it or reprioritize. We need each of these buckets to be on our radar, we need to make strides in each to feel a sense of well rounded thriving. We tend to focus on accomplishment goals thinking that success will bring us happiness, fulfillment and love... but really, it doesn't.
The next part of the exercise is to proactively set goals. Knowing that we need all five of these buckets for our wellness, you get to choose how you set the goals. They need to be specific and measurable, but you can focus however you like. If some buckets are quite high, perhaps give some time and energy to the lower scores. You can choose something to commit to all year, or you can switch it up each quarter. Here are some ideas...
I wanted to increase my positive emotion, so I committed to at least one moment of awe in nature each month. It didn't disappoint! :)
If you have any trouble thinking through the 5 topics, reach out to me. I'm happy to help!