It’s no secret that I’m a new years resolutions JUNKIE.
I love the goal setting, vision boarding, dream-creating, meditation doing, life planning vibe of this time of year.
And if you’re someone who follows life coaches, business coaches or health and wellness type people on social media, you’ll be getting a lot of encouragement to think about these things at this time too.
It’s an occupational hazard for people who help people change their lives.
You may be hearing a lot of “Do what you love” talk.
“Find your calling”
“Follow your bliss”
“Live your passion”
Am I right? And how is that working for you? Does being told to “do what you love” make you suddenly change your whole life and become happier?
If so, you’re one of a lucky, small minority.
If you’re not so in love with what you’re doing in life, don’t be discouraged. You’re in the majority and there are better ways to think about things for those of us in this category.
But to be sure, you need to ask yourself these types of questions: “Do I know what I’d be doing if I was doing what I love? What would life be if I did what I love? Do I love anything enough to do it and love it for the rest of my life?
EXERCISE: Use this download to work through these questions and more, below. Answer question 1 now, then read some more.
The Problem with “Doing What You Love”
If you had no trouble answering the first questions – Great! You’re well on your way to doing what you love.
But if you struggled, read on!
For most of my clients, saying “do what you love” is a moot point.
The problem isn’t that they thought it would be better to do what they hate….they know this much already.
Where they struggle is knowing what those things are.
“If I knew what I really wanted to do, I’d do it!”
“How do I find my passion?”
“I’d love to ‘follow my bliss’, but right now I’d settle for ‘feeling generally ok, most of the time’…bliss seems like an intangible unreality!”
If you can relate to these scenarios, you’re in the majority of people.
More and more coaches are realising that “do what you love” isn’t as simple as it might seem. There are a few pieces of far more practical advice that I love, and which I have distilled into my simple reframe of the “do what you love” statement.
Do What Loves You
As people who struggle with chronic pain, the idea of being carefree and able to just “follow our bliss” can be even more unrealistic.
Just being able to successfully move through the day, or having a day without meds, can be the biggest and most joyous “love” we can conceive of.
So I want you to reframe the statement to this: Do what loves you.
What makes you feel better?
What relieves your pain, your stress, your body?
What calms your mind and lifts your spirit?
Asking these questions changes the focus of what we plan, vision and what goals we think of setting.
What Loves You?
Identifying what makes you feel better, what brings relief and pleasure to your body, mind and spirit, is so, so key to living a life that feels beautiful – in fact, it’s the essence of it.
We all know we need to prioritise self care.
But we often struggle with actually making our goals things like “feel better”, “do what makes my body relax and feel great”, “make my choices based on what my true spirit desires”.
Just stop for a moment now and give yourself a minute to imagine…..suddenly your country’s president or prime minister calls you and says “It’s of the highest importance to the nation that you live 2018 to feel good. We’ll have to force you if you wont do it voluntarily. You’ll have all the government’s resources at your disposal to make it happen. Just make sure you feel good!”
So, if you HAD to design your 2018 around what made your body feel great, what would you have to do, stop doing or change?
If you HAD to design your 2018 around what your True Spirit yearned for, what would you have to do, stop doing or change?
If you HAD to design your 2018 around what would make your life feel beautiful to live, what would you have to do, stop doing or change?
Not as easy to answer as it might seem, but did you manage to imagine something?
For me, my body instantly wanted me to love it more, in a really tactile way – maybe lotions or hugs or massages.
My spirit wanted to swim in the ocean more, to laugh more, to watch more sunsets in open skies on warm nights.
For my life to be beautiful, I’d have more nature in my life, flowers and plants in my house, and more romance.
Or try this:
Imagine God decides, for reasons we’ll not understand or question, to pour out universal, cosmic love into your life in incredible measure, in 2018. Just sit for a minute or two and imagine God saying “2018 is your year, we’ve chosen you, all the love is coming into your life, you just need to sit back and feel it, accept it, live it…here we go”.
What would that look like?
What would it feel like?
What would change in your life, externally?
What would change for you internally?
For me, I instantly felt a fullness within myself, a loved-up-ness, and I was able to love other people so much more easily. I was more relaxed, less worried and much happier.
EXERCISE: Take a moment now, and fill out the next questions in the worksheet.
What Loves You is What Feels Good
So, here’s the interesting thing. All those exercises, all that imagining of world leaders and God….it changed how I felt inside, to imagine the life changes that those scenarios would bring…..I created those feelings within me. I imagined a greater sense of love, of feeling good in my body, of meeting the yearning of my spirit. I created that internal reality.
I didn’t actually need those things to physically happen, to create the internal reality. That’s where you start – spending time imagining…regularly.
Make January your imagination month. Imagine doing what loves you. Imagine it till your body feels good. Imagine it till your mind rests. Imagine it till your emotions are positive. Imagine it till your spirit rises, desires and inspires you to action.
From there, you can begin to make the changes in your physical life to reflect the internal changes you’re wanting to feel. You’ll be guided by your spirit, as it enjoys feeling the body relax, the mind rest and the emotions get positive.
And when I look at my imaginings….there’s little there that can’t be immediately introduced immediately, in some way. I can buy lotions, give myself hugs or ask for them, or hang with my nieces who love hugs, I can swim in the ocean more, I can watch sunsets, I can buy a few more plants or flowers. These are not crazy dreams that can’t be attained. And they’ll all be loving me…they’re things that love me.
How about you? Did you imagine simple small things or big changes?
EXERCISE: Answer the questions on the worksheet about what loves you now.
One Simple New Year’s Resolution
By focusing away from finding what you love and doing it in 2018, you’ve reduced your New Year’s Resolutions to one simple thing: Do What Loves Me.
With the exercises above, you’ve now got a place to start. The process of breaking down your resolution into three smaller and more achievable categories is fairly simple now.
Ask yourself three questions:
What do you need to do more of?
What do you need to do less of?
What needs to change entirely?
EXERCISE: Answer these questions on the worksheet.
Approaching Change Like A Gentle Incline
Next, you need to break it down, down, down into the smallest steps you can. Yep – truly less is more.
For many years, I’d set a goal like drawing a line in the sand – for example, if my desire was to clean up my eating, and my goal was “I’m not eating sugar this year”, then I’d make that my line in the sand. No more sugar from January 1st!
And then the pressure would come, someone serves a really tasty dessert at a dinner party (on, like, January 5th), and it’s me against a really strong pull, like a tug-of-war, pulling me across that line….and needless to say I’d be crossing that line in no time. Goal failed.
Now I see the process less as a line and more as a path with a gentle incline.
For instance, instead of “I’m not eating sugar this year” my goal is “In January, I’ll only eat sugar once a day, maximum”. Then, “In February, I’ll only eat sugar once every two days, maximum”. Then in March….well, you get the idea.
It’s a path, a gradual build up. No sudden cliffs, no lines in the sand. This is a slow changing of how I think, act and value myself and my body and my life.
So when we think of setting out the steps you’ll take to do what loves you, be gradual. If sleeping more is what loves you, then don’t say “I’m sleeping at least 9 hours every night”.
Break that down, maybe “In January, I’m going to be in bed for 9 hours, at least three nights of the week”. Then you plan for that. Don’t book more social events than that will allow. Build it up in Feb, then more in March.
EXERCISE: You can fill out these steps in the downloadable worksheet.
The Plan Is Set
Pretty soon, you’ll have a nice, gentle, achievable plan and you’ll get to your goal successfully while also feeling AMAZING, because the goal is to do what loves you…which always feels amazing.
Now that’s a 2018 that will feel beautiful to live.
Next week I’ll be talking about the tapes we play in our minds and how they are the core of what doesn’t love us – so I want to encourage you to change them in 2018 to messages that love you.
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