January is normally the time of year when many proclaim their annual resolutions to lose unwanted weight by promising themselves to exercise more and eat less. After an eager start, the drive soon starts to lose steam after a couple of weeks, but you can make this year different.
With some additional (quiet) time, no thanks to COVID-19 and its variants, this is the perfect opportunity to think even bigger by defining your VISION for 2022 and beyond.
Consider it an investment in your most important asset…. YOU!
For the past three years I’ve taken some extra time at the start of each year to ponder where I am and where I would like to be. I found that putting in some extra thought into my goals and putting them down on paper makes them much more concrete and a reminder of my annual and longer-term goals.
It may sound a bit daunting at first thought, but it should not be. If you do this with a longer-term view that is gradual and part of a process that you take time to develop and define, it can be used to keep you motivated. Call them what you like: goals, objectives, priorities, dreams, or aspirations – they all align and move you closer to your vision.
A google search will inform you that a resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something” – that sounds about right. A vision is “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.” Hmmm taking some additional time to define “your” (life) vision might be worth the time. You can use this opportunity to assess where you are and compare it to where you’d like be and decide if changes are required.
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.”
Like any good pilot or captain, you need to know where you are going and then design the best plan to get you there recognizing that there may be a little turbulence along the way. It may take a bit more time to set off on the voyage, but you may find it more enjoyable and get you to somewhere where you want to be as opposed to arriving somewhere just by chance or worse – getting to a place where you don’t really want to be.
Here are a couple of questions to get your cerebral popcorn popping:
- Are you happy with yourself and how things are progressing from a personal, work, career or business perspective?
- Where do you want to be? Are you heading in the right direction or do you need to consider some changes?
- What are your current priorities? Are they related to health, happiness, or success? All the above?
- What would you Start, Stop or Change for 2022 (any beyond)?
- From a health, professional, personal or relationship perspective:
- What would you like to have accomplished by the end of 2022?
- Where would you like to be in 2, 5 or 10+ years?
There are no right or wrong answers and they will no doubt change over time, but you should think about what is really important to you today. As we age our priorities will evolve from friendships, education, employment, material & physical goods (like a new(er) car or a large(r) house) to things that are less tangible, cost less but become more valuable. We often come to better appreciate things that we previously took for granted like our health, positive & healthy relationships, peace of mind and the simple things in life – many of which are actually free! We just need to take the time to realize it.
Using a resolution to “eat less” as an example. It may very well fit into the equation but perhaps it is part of a bigger vision that focuses on nutrition as a means to live a healthier and longer life? Could the goal be to eat reasonable portions and have a greater focus on eating foods that are better for you and improve your overall health? Does that mean you should just eat salad and carrots 24/7? No, but it does mean making better decisions by gradually choosing to eat less processed foods and eating more whole-food, plant-based meals. Perhaps initially you only have largely plant-based meals a couple of times a week and over the following weeks and months you make them more the rule than the exception. You can still have tasty and filling meals, but it may be significantly easier on your digestive system while still providing your body with healthy and satisfying nutrients. You will be amazed by how your body and taste glands can evolve over time. You might be surprised to see that the weight will take care of itself.
Most people would agree that some foods can make you sick, but few people realize that some foods can actually make you feel well or reverse certain diseases (more on this topic in a future blog post).
Back to the VISION… The same way our bodies, nature and the universe strive to be “in balance” – perhaps we should do the same by including goals in our life vision that can help us find that “balance” of our MIND, BODY and SOUL. Some people may feel that this thought process is perhaps outside their normal comfort zone because they haven’t spent any time thinking about what it might mean to them. If they had, they may find that many goals fit neatly into one of these categories.
Here are examples that you might want to consider when defining your VISION for this year and beyond:
|Mindfulness – live in the present and be in the Now! |
This can include being aware of all that you are grateful for which is more often than not taken for granted.
|Nutritional goals (not a diet)– whether that means more real food and / or less processed food (listen to your body, not the cravings; the body will tell you what it likes); How do you feel after stuffing yourself with fast food and soda pop? Or too much alcohol? |
Explore the benefits of the simplest diet: intermittent fasting. Low cost, no prep time, & easy to remember.
|Recognize (or define) your life’s purpose and live life to its fullest (nothing like starting with an easy one!) Indulge in your passion(s) – you don’t have to save the world but you can make time in your life for walking, hiking, cycling, music, art or travel.|
|Being grateful – gratitude can be simple but often overlooked and can be the basis for much positiveness to flourish from it. Gratitude can overshadow all that you otherwise think you need.||Be Active – whether it’s at a gym or health club or even the great outdoors enjoying skiing, skating, swimming or a simple hike or walk (set a target that your lifestyle can accommodate (just set it: X times for Y minutes per week) Weights? High intensity interval training (aka HIIT), a higher paced walk or a simple stroll to clear the mind?||Be Hygge (and explore its abstract principles like contentment, coziness, simplicity, relationships, and relaxation)|
|Meditation is often dismissed but taking a small about of time each day to calm the mind and reduce life’s stresses can be very beneficial to your mental health||Drink more water but less alcohol and sugary drinks||Be in nature – numerous studies show that simply being in nature reduces anger, anxiety and stress by reducing your blood pressure, heart rate and the production of stress hormones.|
|Positive mindset – Beyond meditation, simply being aware of the mind’s subconscious self-chatter and negative thoughts will allow you to control or direct the thoughts in a positive manner||Quality sleep – there are numerous benefits better sleep habits including: boost your immune system; reduce stress, improve mood, clearer thinking; and even prevent weight gain just to name a few||Be kind to yourself – by living in the moment, which some people like to refer to as the “now”. Practise some self-care by giving your soul a chance to breathe by not feeling that you have to be busy or productive every second of every day.|
– Education & career
– Get organized
– Save more money / spend less money (part of your financial health plan)
|– Quit smoking|
– Lose weight & exercise more
– Public service
– Family-related goals
– Artistic or musical goals
– Learn a new skill or hobby
– Spend more time with family and friends (could be included in Hygge)
|Goals that can contribute to all three (MIND, BODY & SOUL)|
|Yoga – done regularly it can benefit all three (stretching improves your flexibility; focused breathing and thoughts can contribute to mindful and refresh the soul|
|Travel more – as we await travel restrictions start to lift this is the perfect time to starting to plan for places you would like to visit when travel opens up again (perhaps the Azores are on your list?) Planning is half the fun. There is no doubt that it certainly helps us to stay motivated with exciting plans to look forward to.|
|Read more – depending on the books you read, you can cover each of these categories, for example, learn how to calm the brain and train it to help you achieve your goals instead of impeding you; learn about benefits of eating to beat diseases; explore ways to find our life purpose|
|Financial health – at first glance you may think that this doesn’t fit into any of the categories, but if you consider that having your financial house in order might actually reduce / remove stress or allow for some extra financial resources to allow you to do more activities that support your MIND, BODY & SOUL.|
This is not about trying to do it all at once. Start with what’s the most important to you right now and then work from there. Setting a vision gives you an overall perspective that can give you direction in your day-today decision-making, so you can stay aligned with your LIFE vision.
When is the best time to do this? Take this first step now! Take some inspiration from this old proverb…
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.Ancient Chinese proverb from Lao Tzu
I hope this gave you something to think about. So, what will your vision include?
Stay tuned for the next Blog Post which will include some insights and simple tips on how to get started on defining your VISION.