5 Different Questions to Ask in the First Week of the New Year
Day 1: What do I most want to feel this year?
This question takes goals and resolutions out of the "task" frame and into the "experience" frame. Every goal you have ever made is because deep down you want to feel something —more freedom, more abundance, more fun, more love, more external recognition, more safety. Pick one that's the real reason you want to achieve your goals this year. After all, what the heart wants to feel is a better motivator than what the ego wants to get done. I had a goal to publish my next book this year. Which didn't happen. What did happen is I got creative and wrote a different one. The feeling I was looking for was creativity and a sense of progress and momentum—which I got.
Day 2: Whom am I going to choose to love unconditionally this year, to the best of my ability, no matter what happens?
Yes, it's tempting to say your child, or your best friend, but pick a relationship that you know needs some loving intention, kindness, forgiveness, patience or just time spent on it. Yes, maybe it should be your spouse, your mother, your teenager or even your impossible boss. Unconditional love means no judgment. It is quite simply acceptance of the person as the way they are. When people feel accepted, and you are not waiting for them to change or be different in some way, usually what follows is a breakthrough and a new way of relating to each other.
Day 3: How am I going to get back on track when life gets hard?
We rush to make plans and projects to change our lives...and within a few days or weeks, we have failed ourselves. Again. This year, focus on a technique I call the three R's: reflection, recovery and repair. These are the steps you will take to figure out what went wrong, how to get positive and how to start again. Reflection might come from a particular phrase, something like, "I am doing my best, and I'm allowed to be human." You might follow that with some deep breaths so you can wrap up the day and just get a good night's sleep. Or you can decide that you'll call a dedicated friend at moments like this, or take a walk, and then sit in meditation for a few minutes. Get clear on your go-to method. It will make navigating the rough patches so much easier.
Day 4: Who is someone you could help achieve their most important resolution?
This pulls the focus off me, me, me and helps you contribute to someone else's life. Think of a friend or family member; find out what their dream is and offer to help by checking in, giving encouragement, being their raving fan or holding them accountable to their commitment. One example? Years ago, my friend Charlotte helped me get out of my story that I'd always be single in New York City; she pushed me to open my heart and eyes to the possibility of falling in love again. And I did! Madly, passionately! But I needed her to point out something I couldn't see myself.
Day 5: What word can I pick as the quality I most want to focus on this year?
If you are typically a fun or adventurous person, it's easy to default to those words. Except...you will no doubt continue to be who you already are. This question asks you to look at the quality your friends or family may have mentioned your needing to cultivate or something that you know deep down you could be more of (e.g., grateful, forgiving, patient, courageous, authentic, resourceful, etc.). The word you choose will be your guide. Write it down and speak it out loud every morning; use it to finish this sentence: I am _____. I've learned that focusing on a quality of being rather than a specific goal not only gives my mind something to do but also feels juicy and wonderful. This kind of soul goal will make you feel far better than any external goal.
Ariane de Bonvoisin is a writer, speaker and entrepreneur. Her latest venture is a daily app, Mindful365, on living consciously in the midst of our busy lives. For more, visit ArianedeBonvoisin.com.