A Focus on Desire not Deprivation
January feels like a fresh start.
It’s a chance to rethink our lives and make changes. To think about what hasn’t been working and what we would like to do differently. It can be a very uplifting, inspiring and refreshing time of year. Hello New Me!
And yet often it’s not.
Often times it becomes yet another opportunity for us to feel bad about ourselves.
It’s another chance to pick apart our flaws and focus our attention on what we aren’t doing and what we should be doing. We start imagining how happy we would be if only we were 5kg lighter, met the right person, were offered the ideal job, lived in the right home… and the list goes on.
One day, when all the conditions are right, life will be good.
Don’t get me wrong. Being able to identify what’s not working in our lives is critical. It helps us adjust, make changes, and move forward.
What doesn’t work, however, is being so attached to these specific goals that when they appear in a slightly different manner to the way we envisaged them, or if they don’t work out at all, we’re disappointed.
And there we have it.
Yet another opportunity to self blame.
It didn’t work out, I wasn’t able to stick to it, I never made it happen, I’m such a failure. What was intended as a motivational start to the year ended up with more self-flagellation. Sigh.
So what can you do to embrace the New Year with inspiration and enthusiasm? How can you welcome in a fresh start without getting caught up in the “not enough” trap?
Here are a couple of things that have really helped me:
1.Think about the intention, not the specific goal
Instead of writing a list of more “to do’s”, with the added pressure of New Year making them big and scary and pretty much impossible to achieve, focus on the intent behind the goal.
So if you’re tempted to write “run a half marathon” as your goal, think about the intention behind that. If you think about what it would feel to run a half marathon, you might drop into a feeling of strength, achievement or embodiment. Or maybe it's more the socializing aspect of joining the running club that you're feeling.
When you get to the core of why you want to do it, you’ll find that it’s not really about the goal at all. And once you know what that intent is, you'll see there are likely many other ways to bring that into your life. So if you don’t nail the half marathon, it doesn’t mean failure, it means several more opportunities to feel that way. Through looking at the intent, you might even discover that the half marathon isn’t the best route for you at all and you'll be better placed to find the more inspiring fit.
2.Think about how you want to feel, rather than what you want to achieve
I’m obsessed with Danielle La Porte. She combines spiritual brilliance with a massive dose of sass. She’s funky, open-hearted, bad-assed and all-round awesome. In her book, The Desire Map, she helps you work through how you want to FEEL, and using that as a basis for everything you choose to do. No more boring resolutions - now that’s how you create goals with soul! (If this lights you up, I’m hosting a workshop 28th Jan (9-12pm R250) to help you find your 2017 words too - email me to join)
3.Focus on what will bring you delight, not deprivation
This is a big one. Everything we do, and I mean absolutely everything should bring joy. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be amazing every single time or in every single way. But we certainly should set out to achieve that.
Goals that are about deprivation are NOT the way to bring joy into our lives. Setting your “new you” goals around “giving up coffee”, “cutting carbs”, “reducing calories” or taking away absolutely anything that you love, is NOT the way to create a life of ease and joy (unless, of course it's knowingly destructive and harmful!)
The dictionary definition of deprivation is “the lack or denial of something considered to be a necessity”. How does that make you feel? Does that make you feel excited? Does that make you feel revved up and ready to live a good life? Hell no! As soon as we deprive ourselves or our bodies of anything we really love, failure is predictable. We are unable to stick to it. We end up with cravings and binges…and you got it: more self-hate. That’s why diets don’t work (more on this another time). Rather focus your changes on what will bring you delight – more nourishing food, more connection, more quiet time.