by Laura Wood, Therapist, Blissborn Educator
2022, buh-bye. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
I hope you had a better year than that, but I’m betting between the daily challenges of life, and illnesses and worry and stress, this one’s been a toughie for you, too. So as we wave our sarcastic bye-bye to last year, have you thought about setting your intentions for next year?
This time of year, I like to think of the natural patterns of life. When it’s darker and colder, I think of it like breathing in… taking these moments of candle-lit, blanket-covered quiet to explore a renewed commitment to living an authentic life, or maybe just taking time to hold up a mirror and reflect upon what’s most important. Then, when it’s time to breathe out again (think Spring and Summer, breaking out of your shell, and being big in the world), you’re ready to burst forth with energy and dance in the sunshine, strong and renewed.
Taking the Time
So, speaking of mirrors… How much time have you recently given to self-reflection? How much insight do you have — about your tendencies, your abilities, your patterns, your truths? How are your goals for yourself going? Most of us wish we gave more time to looking inward. Maybe that’s a goal of yours in the coming year! Taking time to notice your mind can be an amazing way to affect change.
In service of the good and lasting changes we can achieve, I have gathered some resources for you, in case you want to spend some time in these shorter days being more introspective and looking at your goals. I suggest you read through this information, think about what speaks to you, and set aside some time to write and/or discuss your thoughts and answers.
At the end of the time you’ve given yourself, you will feel more aligned, and more clear on your goals and why they’re important to you. This gives you direction and motivation. These exercises can be a meaningful activity to work through alone, within your relationship, family, or friend group, or in a workshopping/therapy group.
Please remember to be kind to yourself as you do this work — it’s okay that you’re not quite perfect yet. The important thing is that you’re trying, and working toward being a pretty good version of yourself. Commit to that, and follow through, simply because you deserve to feel proud of who you are.
Spend some time journaling your answers to these questions. Note: you must write them down — reading them and thinking about them just in your mind won’t be as powerful! If you like to process out loud, try discussing them first, and then writing them down, or discussing what you’ve written after taking some quiet time to ponder.
Am I using my time wisely?~~from Lifehack.org; more info can be found HERE
Am I taking anything for granted?
Am I employing a healthy perspective?
Am I living true to myself?
Am I waking up in the morning ready to take on the day?
Am I thinking negative thoughts before I fall asleep?
Am I putting enough effort into my relationships?
Am I taking care of myself physically?
Am I letting matters that are out of my control stress me out?
Am I achieving the goals that I’ve set for myself?
How to connect with your values
Your values define what is most important to you, and guide the choices you make in life. They are also one of the most powerful ways to attach meaning to your goals.
“Living in line with your values is not just about knowing what matters but also about acting according to these principles. It’s not a one-time choice but a lifelong journey of choosing and committing. Again and again.”~~Kelly G. Wilson
The following was adapted from Values Clarification, TherapistAid.com
From the following list, circle the items that are important to you. Be sure to add in anything we missed! Then select the 10 most important items and rank them from 1-10 (1 being the most important item).
How to connect with your values
The following was adapted from The Valued Living Questionnaire by Kelly G. Wilson
To do this exercise, you’ll spend time on the following steps
- Rate your life domains
- Bring in your values (from the Values Clarification exercise above)
- Rate your consistency
- Bring it all together
Rate your life domains
Take a look at the following life areas, and rate their importance on a scale of 1 to 10
(1 = less important; 10 = most important).
- Marriage, couples, intimate/romantic relationships
- Friends, social life
- Work, job, career
- Education, training
- Personal development and growth
- Recreation, fun
- Spirituality, anything meaningful at a deeper level
- Social citizenship/community life/volunteering
- Physical self care, health (diet, exercise, sleep)
- Environmental concerns/responsibility
- Art, creative expression, and aesthetics
Bring in your values/Rate your consistency
Bring in the values you marked as important from the Values Clarification exercise above, and look at the life areas above once more. This time, rate yourself on how consistent your actions have been with your values.
(1 = less consistent; 10 = most consistent).
Bring it all together
Take a look at your answers from the previous exercises, and identify the domains that have a high score in importance, 9 or 10, and a low score, 6 or less, in actions/consistency. These are areas that need your attention.
Write down your values in one of your previously identified domains. Ask yourself, “What do I want to do in this area that reflects that caring?” “What can I do to manifest this value more in my life?”
Writing about your values has a measurable effect on your health and behavior, and this is only the beginning. There are many ways to connect with your purpose and live in alignment with your goals and values.
Write and Reflect
Using any of the above methods of gathering more information on yourself, take some time to write and reflect on what emerged… what’s most important? What do you want to focus on? Does this lead you to any goals or resolutions?
To best achieve your goals, you can put them in terms of your values in order to super-charge them, and use what’s called “successive approximation” to begin working on them. That’s a CBT term that means breaking larger goals into smaller goals so they don’t seem so daunting. You can also keep track of your progress on your goals through journaling! Tell others, enlist help and support, give yourself lots of kudos along the way.
Keep it Going
Researchers have shown that we think more than 50,000 thoughts per day, of which more than half are negative and more than 90% are just repeats from the day before.~~Wood, 2013, retrieved from HERE
The following is adapted from a holothink.org article.
Journaling can be such a powerful tool for self-reflection, as well as identifying habits of thought. Similarly, processing out loud with another person or a group can be powerful for discovering new insights, taking time and prioritizing your experience, having accountability, and finding validation. This year, consider finding a group! Start a group with like-minded friends. And get busy on your journaling practice.
For a good start on journaling, get a journal, diary, or notebook with plenty of pages to write in.
“Tears are words that need to be written.”~~Paulo Coelho
Every day, write down three things in your journal:
- At least one positive thing that happened to or around you today, or something you accomplished;
- A question for yourself, but don’t answer it yet (this can be anything about you — your hopes and dreams, your past/present/future, your goals what’s most important to you, your boundaries, your values, etc);
- A reflection on the question you wrote the previous day for yourself and an answer to it.
Following these steps, you will write only the first two components on the first day but will write three components every day thereafter.
I hope you give yourself the gift of doing this work. Light a candle, set out a mirror, snuggle up, and get to work. Take some time to set up your intentions in an authentic and honest way, and you will reap the rewards all year. Share your discoveries and resolutions below, if you’d like!
Here’s to a better 2023 — all of us at Dar a Luz wish you the very best holidays, and please stay safe and warm!
Note: Many of these ideas came from widely available resources, and some are available on positivepsychology.com, if you’re interested in exploring more.