After the big, crazy year that 2020 was, I know I’m not the only one who wants 2021 to be a bit different. The first few weeks of a new year is when many of us set personal and professional goals, and sadly it’s also the time we tend to forget that willpower can only run for so long. Without support structures we will eventually lose focus and usually by March or so, the big goals have often been replaced with “I’ll get to it later” type of thinking.
A few years ago, I thought I’d start my year slightly differently and set a theme for the year. This could then connect to specific goals and it would at the same time be easy to remember and re-focus on.
When I studied coaching back in 2012, we’d often talk about the fact that “where your focus goes, energy flows“. The human mind simply can’t focus on too many things at once, so it’s pretty obvious. This way of focussing on themes instead of only specific goals has really helped me move the dial on many things in my life. I hope you’re keen to try and see what happens for you!
The simple process:
- Set a main theme you’re passionate and/or truly care about.
In 2018 and 2019 my theme was personal finance, in 2020 it was creativity and in 2021 it is self love. These themes are not ones I consciously decided upon, but themes/topics that keps coming up and I felt a strong internal need to nurture and build that part of my life. Your theme can’t be a ‘should’, you have to land in a ‘want’. For example, when my personal finances were not working for me I did not feel like ‘I really should get on top of that…’, but rather ‘I never want to be in this difficult position again. I want to be in charge of my money and my life.‘
- Pick 2-3 activities/areas that will contribute to your theme. It’s important to keep these simple, yet helpful. If the activities or areas you pick here are not easy to reflect on or notice a difference in, you many need to get more specific. The 3 key areas I picked to support my theme of self love are:
a) Learning: this includes things like reading, listening to podcasts, doing online courses or chatting to friends about practises they have experienced as helpful tools in building their self love muscle.
b) Body and mind: this area is about exercise, food and well being for me. Reflecting on a regular basis on my exercise routine, rest, meditation, sleep and nutrition helps me stay on track 80% of the time. I still drink too much wine some days, or have chips for dinner, but this helps me look after myself.
c) Relationships: for me personally self love is not just what I do in my own little bubble, but how I interact with friends, family, colleagues or strangers. To look at my relationships and interactions whilst reflecting on healthy boundaries (we all need to learn to say no to some things!), ability to be vulnerable and a range of other things are very helpful as I look at the big picture of self love.
- Review weekly (or even daily). If you write a gratitude journal or have a moment of silent reflection every day (I often do it before bed), it can be useful to just reflect on your 2-3 areas and what you did/what happened in each of them that day. Every day won’t be super productive, but they key here is to just notice where your time, energy and effort is spent every day/week and have the ability without judging yourself for ‘getting it wrong‘.
A simple life for me is one of awareness and gradual improvement. Everything new that we do is a skill that we need to train. Self-love is one that many ignore (I have too!), which is why I wanted to get curious to ‘train that muscle’ and notice where it takes me.