I’ve always been someone who enjoys a new years resolution. So much so that last year I wrote a huge document, with a scoring system, to track my goals for the year. There were guidance notes and everything. Of course I knew I was unlikely to use said document, but the pleasure was in the planning and the intention of it all. As an openly autistic person this kind intense planning and listing of things brings me great joy. Looking back on new years eve I was startled at how much I had accomplished, though I didn’t manage to learn all about different ways to cook potato… perhaps one for 2021?
I am also conscious of the fact that there can be a lot of pressure to make changes at this time of year, and that for some of us that pressure can be guilt inducing, anxiety provoking or shaming. It can also mean a sense of letting oneself down if life gets in the way. I am sure this was the case for many of us in 2020.
So how can we use the impact of a new year for good without pressurising or shaming ourselves?
Perhaps instead of setting doing-based goals we should focus on being-based change/focus. So instead of saying ‘I want to achieve x target’ its more ‘I want to cultivate a feeling of y’. X might be losing weight or quitting smoking, where y is a feeling of self-care, or self-nurturing. X might be saving money, where y is more about creating a sense of safety. Or x could be something around new experiences or challenges, where y is more about cultivating a sense of adventure. If we’re feeling really creative we might even have an image of a person or character who embodies the ‘y’ feeling.
This way, we set a more malleable goal that focusses on the why and not the how. The how can change with time, and is not a nagging responsibility, but a constructive, felt sense of how we want to live that drives our decisions. It is also one that we have rather more control and influence over, and one that involves investing in our own self-development as a whole.
I’m never going to stop making lists. But I know the value of setting a feeling-based goal, especially in such turbulent times as these.
So what’s my goal for 2021? I will focus on externalising the internal – putting things out there – communicating – contributing. And here is the start of that.