Of course we shouldn’t wait until New Years to set goals - we should do that whenever the spark is lit - but the calendar changing over to the start of a New Year signifies the start of 12 months to make the most of before the craziness of the holidays sets in again. The 1st of the year is a great time to do this because it’s a marker of time for our culture. I’m a big fan of goal setting. I’ve been making New Year's resolutions lists for a few decades now. I don’t call it “New Year's resolutions”, though. I call it “things I’d like to accomplish in 12 months”.
I’m not resolving to do anything. I’m just working on what I feel is important. My list is usually between 10-20 goals long. This year I went to the lower side of the scale because, like I said in the last newsletter, I don’t feel like piling it on this year. Here’s why I think setting New Year's resolutions, or making a list of things I'd like to accomplish in 12 months, is a great idea.
Helps combat depression
I've had depression since I was a little kid. Guess what?! People with depression have goals too! They just might feel like they can't accomplish them so what's the point. Working on accomplishing a goal is a great mood booster. Having a goal gives us an agenda and encourages us to make moves we normally wouldn't. When we show up to work on our goals we build trust in ourselves and help to build up our confidence. The momentum created by giving attention to what is important to us has a powerful effect on the body's chemistry. Because of my depression, sometimes I have to really force myself into action. If you find that to be impossible, work with a therapist to help you. The benefits are well worth the effort and it will feel great to live your life honestly (satya).
Your goals will keep you on your dharmic path.
Whether dharma is a concept you can get on board with or not, goal setting is a way for us to steer our life's direction. Our goals wouldn’t be our goals if it wasn’t important or meaningful to us in some way. When we plug away at something we value, we are working to fulfill our dharma or steer our life in a more meaningful way. Your goals don’t have to be huge. Maybe you have goals to live with less pain/discomfort, build a healthier body, lessen stress, build more confidence, do some volunteer work, learn a language, fill in the blank (or reach out for more suggestions ;)). When we make improvements in our lives we benefit those around us. The balanced version of ourself will be the most helpful to ourselves and others.
Gives your life purpose
When we don’t choose a direction, our direction is chosen by default. Like a turd in a river. We just float along bumping into things not really making much of our short time here until we’re sitting somewhere stagnating. We all have goals whether we write them down and pursue them or not. By not pursuing what is valuable to us, we are still choosing any other avenue other than the one that is important to us. When we consider that the 8 limbs of yoga encompass being non-harming, then hopefully we can see how not pursuing something that we value is harmful. Missed opportunities will be inevitable if we just wait for something to sweep us off of our feet.
Working towards your goals dictates the kind of momentum you generate.
Every experience, good or bad, creates our life's momentum. This momentum is what brings opportunity. It’s rare that opportunity presents itself without any effort put in. Even when things just seem to magically line up it’s usually one thing leading to another, even when that’s not so obvious. Essentially we are talking about samskara, "the subtle mental impressions left by all thoughts, intentions and actions that an individual has ever experienced." -Yogapedia
Read more about samskara here https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/5748/samskara
Here are some things to keep in mind when setting goals.
1. Make a list
Be specific about what the goal is and why it's important to you.
2. Make a plan
Be specific about how you intend to accomplish your goal(s)
3. Enjoy the journey
Easier said than done but don’t get attached to results. Everything is preparing you for the next thing. Go forward mindfully and enjoy the process without worrying about the outcome.
4. REVISIT YOUR LIST OFTEN
Check in at least monthly to stay on track and/or revise it as you or your goals change. Whatever goal or goals you don’t get to in 12 months you can either deem it not important to you anymore or add it to your list next year.
“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Set goals! Make moves! Enjoy the journey!