You most likely are setting your intention for 2012 and feeling enthusiastic about the new year. You are out the gate! Typically, it takes about 10 days to hit your first little setback – you skip the class, sneak an extra brownie or a cigarette, yell at your spouse or your kids and, before you know it, you are right back where we you started. If you are only motivated by the flip of the calendar and external stimulants – sorry, but you are on the road to failure. However, if you are seeking a true transformation and you desire to live your life to its fullest potential, here are a few things to consider:
You are perfect right now. There is nothing to change. Transformation is simply re-arranging what’s already inside. It’s the act of trying to cultivate healthy choices and remove toxic patterns that no longer serve you.
Differentiate intention and goals. Intention is a path or practice that is focused on how you are “being” in the present moment. Your attention is on PRESENT. You set your intention based on understanding what matters most to you and your heart’s desire. Setting intention is a process. It is something you live by every day. Goals help you make your place in the world. They make you more productive. They are your dreams. The results of your efforts in reaching a specific goal may be successful or unsuccessful. There is no room for disappointment if you don’t succeed in reaching a goal as long as you are rooted in your intention. For example, say my intention is to create more clarity and stay focused. One of my goals is to get published. For this goal, I set a time to write, work with an editor and keep sending my material to different publishers. I am staying focused on one subject, which is part of my intention, and writing helps me to organize my thoughts, therefore cultivating clarity, which is also part of my intention. In this way, I am not attached to the results – I am focused on the process.
Why January? Actually, you can start any time, but January is a good starting point. Most successful companies re-allocate budget, resources, etc. at the turn of the year. Imagine yourself as the CEO of You, Inc., crafting the road map for the upcoming year. It doesn’t have to be January, though–our bodies are changing daily with cells re-generating every second. The important thing is to have a plan when you begin so you can stay on track.
Take a pro-active approach and create a road map for yourself. It might take you a few weeks to put your intention into action, so it is easier to break things apart and focus on a small portion at a time. I recommend this approach.
1. Set your intention. If you are interested, here is mine as an example: I am cultivating more focus and clarity in my life so I can make an accurate assessment of the present moment. I am eating well and exercising to support my body. I practice yoga to support my mind. I read to feed my intellect. I write to support my creativity.
2. Where you are right now? I wanted to know what I eat, how it affects my mood, where I spend my time. You can download my template, if you’d like, and use it as is or modify it to what works for you. You can also use a notepad and a pen, artist’s paper and colored pencils—whatever works.
Consider tracking yourself for a few weeks before going any further so you can see where you are right now.
3. What went well this year and why? A side benefit of this exercise is that you see how much you’ve accomplished. In case you’re curious, my list this past year included the following things (among others):
- My daily morning yoga practice helped me to stay focused.
- Keeping a log of what I eat, activities and my menstrual cycles helped me to observe unhealthy patterns.
- Cooking food at home made me feel better and I was able to save money.
- Co-organizing the “Yoga and Outdoors” retreat was amazing.
- I wrote for elephant journal and made “Top 10 Blogger” twice.
- Pilates classes and Pilates certification made me stronger and more knowledgeable.
- I traveled to Colorado to hike, study and climb.
- I conquered skiing my first blue trail in Vermont.
- I organized my class plan using the system I implemented.
- I studied with my teachers Guta and Chase Bossart and took workshops with Kausthub Desikachar, Rod Striker, Richard Freeman and Gary Kraftsov.
4. What did not go well this year? The purpose of this exercise is not to critique but rather see the events you have control over and how you can prevent getting off track. This is a list of events that didn’t go as planned:
- Overbooking my day with too many activities.
- Taking group yoga classes.
- Not sticking to my schedule.
- Not having an exit plan.
- Losing focus on what’s important.
5. Make a list of categories that are important in your life. Here is my list:
- Teaching Yoga (group yoga classes, yoga outdoor retreats, teaching privately and therapeutically)
- Education (complete Pilates certification, working towards Yoga Therapy)
- Health and Fitness
6. Now think of three to five goals for each category.
Anything too vague is not a specific goal: “I want to be happy” or “I want to do more yoga” or “I want to be healthy” are all examples of vague goals. We all want to be happier, healthier and richer! This process requires each goal to be specific. Remember: Your success is in your hands. Why would you want to be vague about it? When writing your goals, don’t forget your intention.
Here is the list of my goals:
Teaching Yoga: group yoga classes, yoga outdoor retreats, teaching yoga privately and therapeutically.
- Goal: Polish my yoga class plans.
- Goal: Make a case study for privates.
- Goal: Create digital content.
Education: complete Pilates certification and work towards Yoga Therapy.
- Goal: Find therapy teacher training or take workshops.
- Goal: Study for Pilates test and find time to sub or teach 25 classes.
- Goal: Memorize the first chapter of Yoga Sutra.
- Goal: Read Bhagavad Gita.
- Goal: Polish my writing skills.
- Goal: Get published in Yoga Journal.
Health and Fitness
- Goal: Stop binging and worrying about weight and body image.
- Goal: Cultivate the strength to do a forearm stand.
- Additional Goal: Conquer Longs Peak.
- Goal: Go to Colorado.
- Goal: Skiing trip.
- Goal: Yoga conference.
- Additional Goal: Visit a new place (Vancouver or Portland).
- Goal: Advertise.
- Goal: Blog.
- Goal: Spend quality time with my boyfriend.
- Goal: See my family.
- 7. What do you need to do every month? This is not a rigid plan, but a road map. Remember: We all have time constraints and priorities. If there is not enough time, consider removing some of your goals. You can download my goal-setting worksheet or create your own.
My 2012 Road Map Overview:
- January – reflection, ridding of clutter, creating a road map (theme: New Year, old me)
- February – study for Pilates test, look for a therapy training program, digitize (theme: Study, submit material)
- March – create digital content, explore new studios, see how many days I have and if I can go to CO in June [yes – teaching in Boulder Prana, Yoga Hiking], skiing trip (theme: My first unprofessional video)
- April – spring cleaning, explore new studios, prepare for outdoor yoga trips (theme: Spring is here!)
- May – yoga and rock climbing trip (theme: Change of season)
- June – write about yoga and outdoors (theme: Magnificent outdoors and maybe trip to Boulder)
- July – yoga hike (theme: My next unprofessional outdoor video)
- August – yoga hike (theme: Summertime)
- September – maybe India or Colorado, Longs Peak (theme: Wild West, I love you)
- October – Halloween, final yoga hike (theme: Did you look up and see the colors?
- November – Thanksgiving, no over-eating, quiet holidays (theme: Time to slow down
- December – go on vacation on 12/31, if still living in NY
Try to look at your goals and review yourself every month.
In conclusion, I have a successful career, an amazing relationship, passion and good health. I consider myself lucky, but also give myself a lot of credit. If I hadn’t changed my patterns, the best-case scenario is that I would’ve been dead, but the worst-case scenario is that I could’ve been very sick and unhappy. I have to admit, sometimes, I lose focus and chase my own tail. Other times, I am super-focused and only sky is the limit. I seek for help and have met a lot of good people who took me the places I needed when I needed it. My daily yoga practice helps me to maintain my sanity while my planning process helps me to work towards goals.
Don’t underestimate what you can do in an average year! Set your goals high! I know, right now, you may be saying, “Wait until you have kids,” or “I am not good enough.” STOP! This is your fear talking. Welcome it and let it go. Take some time to go through all the points of this exercise, and you’ll thank yourself later. You can also create your own points. Write it out, send it to your friends, do whatever it takes to commit to your plan!
What do you have to lose? What if this is best year of your life? It can be.