Intentions revisited

I wonder how 2019 is working out for you?

Did you set goals or intentions back in January?

Are they still in your mind, or have they been left behind in the busyness of life and work?

June is a meaningful time to reflect on what is working and what isn’t. We may be halfway through the year, but  – good news – we still have the same number of months to reach our goals by the end of the year.

And here’s even better news (if you’re at all competitive like me): If you do commit time to self-reflection, you will be well ahead of most people.

Apparently by June, more than half of all New Year’s resolutions have been left behind (according to this university study).

It’s not surprising. The optimism we feel in January can take a battering from the winds that blow from unexpected directions during the year.

Yet we don’t have to give up on the course we charted for ourselves.

Adjusting our sails becomes easier when we take some time to reflect – it’s like bringing January into June.

There are two questions that can be a useful guide in a mid-year self-reflection and if you’ve been keeping a journal, your entries might help with the answers.

1. Are my original goals still important to me? This is one of the best questions to ask in order to make your goal setting both relevant and powerful. Because it may be that your vision has changed; what you thought you wanted in January may no longer be in your sights. Maybe you haven’t achieved those January goals because they no longer matter to you. Give yourself permission to stay open to new goals, more relevant to where you are now.

2. What am I doing, or not doing, that is hindering my progress? This is about what’s standing in your way and what you need to do about it. Some possibilities are:

  • Failing to make time in your schedule
  • Lack of expertise in a specific area
  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of support.

It’s only by recognising what is holding you back that you can make a plan to address it.

There’s one important thing to bear in mind as you undertake this process.

Reflection is a powerful tool and motivator but for it to work, we have to be kind to ourselves. 

We have to exercise self-compassion.

It’s very easy to castigate ourselves for not achieving more.

We can always find ways that we have let ourselves down but why look for them?

Instead, we need to treat ourselves with the compassion that we often reserve only for others and deny ourselves.

Be patient with yourself. New ideas need space and creative input to emerge and develop. You may not be sure how you feel about your goals. That’s ok. Let yourself spend time experimenting with ideas until one begins to feel right.

Be tolerant of yourself. Writers often worry that they have nothing new to say. They forget that it’s not the ideas that are unique: it’s the people communicating them, bringing their own experiences, interests, curiosity to a topic and developing new insights.

Celebrate your achievements. Look for ways that you have made progress and don’t think about how far you still want to go. Seek out every milestone, no matter how small, and congratulate yourself on getting this far.

Then trim those sails and let the winds carry you forward. The horizon is just ahead.

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