Body-Driven Goals for 2021
I know, you're probably already over hearing about goal setting, vision casting, dreaming up your year ahead. It's definitely an easy thing for blog writers and email senders to write about in January.
Unless, of course, you're like me, and you love a bit of planning, scheduling, list making, future re-shaping action!
But, also if you're like me, enough January's have gone past for you to know that there's nothing magical about calendar years, there's nothing necessitating goal setting or life changes at this time.
I suspect even more that for those in the northern hemisphere, mid-winter and not having long vacation time over Christmas, there may be less motivation to stretch out, relax and let yourself dream a bit.
Here in Australia, it's mid-Summer, school is out for the long Summer vacation, many people are off work for a number of weeks, and, except for covid-related restrictions, people are away somewhere enjoying the rest they need after such a heavy year.
For me, Summer always feels like a great time to re-set and re-dream life. I read a lot, filling my head with lots of new ideas and approaches to myself, my emotional processes, my health and my spiritual journey.
And all of that inspires me to make changes.
Here's the rub though:
I am great at scheduling, listing, planning and structuring it all, until I over-dose and lose interest in any of it. It exhausts me. At least, that's the old pattern I had, year after year.
But now I have a new approach, one that starts with my body. You all know I'm a great believer in the body being the driver of life. It knows what it needs to be healthy and happy. If you're not listening to it, it'll be difficult to be either of those things.
When setting intentions for the year ahead, starting with the body is a good approach. Why?
- because if your body isn't healthy and energised, you won't enjoy, and may not even be able to do, anything else.
- because your Spirit, the part of you that you're here on this earth to express fully, communicates its desires through your body.
Your body holds the key to greater health and greater happiness.
How to set body-driven goals and intentions
In my coaching practice I use several visualisations to help clients by-pass their socialised thinking, and instead, physically feel into what their body is yearning for.
As I've written so many times before, the first thing people often feel is tired. Your body is yearning for sleep and rest. This is not something you should try to push through. It's what your body needs! If you're feeling these things, make your 2021 goal to rest more, sleep more, have more time doing nothing. (and that means no screens, by the way!).
A quick exercise that you can do on your own, to help you connect in to your body's responses, is to think of a few things you find totally vile and disgusting.
As you think of them, note what your body's physical responses are. I'm talking literally what happens in your body - what tenses up, what churns, what muscles contract to pull you away etc? Make a note of that.
Next, think of a few things that you totally love - your kids, your pets, your best day ever. Again, note how your body physically responds - what relaxes, what “opens”, what movements does your body want to make?
These kinds of exercises are the start of learning your body's communication style.
You can try it out for other life situations. Try thinking of a time when you achieved something you'd worked toward, like handing in a final course assignment or big workplace report - how does your body respond to that moment of completion?
Or when you had a sense someone wasn't trustworthy and later found out you were right - what was your body doing when you had that sense?
Once you feel you've gotten a good sense of your body's positive and negative responses, and you're feeling more connected to, and aware of, your body, try thinking of a few things that are on your agenda for 2021. Think about your job, your family commitments, your social, religious or hobby commitments. How does your body respond? Don't sensor it. You may be expecting one response and find you body is responding in the opposite way. That's OK. Just note it down and keep going.
When you're finished with that list, you will have a feeling about how well your current life choices matche the desires of your Spirit. This can be eye opening, and disconcerting, as the two may not be very aligned. That's OK.
What to do when your body doesn't love your life
This is the start of a new direction. But it's not easy to know how to start, or even if it's possible.
My suggestion is, start by doing more dreaming. Where you've found something in your life that your body doesn't respond positively to, spend some time letting your body dream up what would feel better. It doesn't have to be perfect, just better. If your body doesn't throw up some ideas, think about small changes you could make.
For instance, if you don't respond positively to your job, think about small changes, even if you think they're not possible for you to make. What if you had different clothes to wear to work? What if your desk were in a different spot, or if the office looked beautiful.
Of, if your body didn't respond well to a family obligation you have, think about small things you could try and see what feels better. Think about having a very strong time limit to that activity, or if a particular person wasn't involved.
Don't worry if the changes you're trying on are "not nice" or seem "impossible". You're just looking through possible options, which become clues for actual changes that could become your goals for change in 2021.
As a further extension of this exercise, let your body guide you toward the kind of place you'd like to live. When you find your mind racing away with its ideas of a dream home with perfect interiors, etc, just gently pull yourself back into your body. Re-ask your body the question, what would your perfect home feel like. See if you can feel it before you think it or see it.
For instace, what would the air feel like against your skin? Cool or warm, air conditioned or a sea breeze or mountain crispness? What sounds is your body hearing in this ideal home? What kind of light is there, what kind of space can you feel?
As you take cues from your body, you can slowly fill in details. Don't push it, your body will pop the specifics into your mind when it forms them. Just feel it.
Finding this activity too tricky?
I offer single sessions to work through a more thorough version of this exercise, via Zoom. You'll be amazed at what you discover about the life you're yearning for, and the impact that will have on goal setting for the year.
Contact me via my contact me page if you're interested.