What if your goals are not limited to “doing or not doing?” What if they include aspirational ways of being, as well? For example, a 2023 being intention could include a shift in attitude, a change in how you see yourself, or a different way you’d like to interact with others. The beauty of a being goal is that it not only clarifies how we would like to live our lives, but also shifts how we approach our doing goals. For example, an intention to be patient will help you to calmly persevere towards a doing goal of regular exercise, when you get frustrated with your progress.
Here are few of my favorite aspirational ways of being:
Be Kind to Yourself. Most of us, and especially women, tend to hold ourselves to very high standards. We take our myriad of roles and goals to heart and want to excel at them all. And we usually do. But we are also human, which means we will inevitably fall short at something. So, when, for example, you lapse on a doing goal (like meditating or organizing your files), be kind. Beating yourself up only adds further injury and heartache. Instead, gently acknowledge your difficulty. And then, if you choose, take three deep breaths and tackle one file at a time.
Be Curious. One of the gifts of midlife is the greater certainty of our beliefs, values, and priorities. The flipside is that this certainty can pose a roadblock to our own growth. Thoughts like “I’ll never ____ ,” “I’m terrible at ____,” or “I can’t believe I ______” are dead-end beliefs which thwart our evolution. Curiosity opens the gates by beckoning us to examine our automatic judgements and conditioned behaviors. So, when you’re frustrated and self-critical because you skipped the gym yet again, get curious. Is this a goal you really want, or is it a goal you thought you should want? If you genuinely want to achieve the goal, curiously and nonjudgmentally explore what is getting in the way.
Be Present. Though meditation is a formal practice of presence, every second is an opportunity to practice presence. We can practice being more present when washing dishes, walking our dog and brushing our teeth. Give your full attention to your doing goals: really taste the healthier (and even not so healthy) food, tune into your body when you exercise (and also when you rest), and stop and smell the roses during your walks, literally. For formal guidance, consider joining me my weekly Thursday morning meditation group.
As you head into 2023, I invite you to choose a being goal that speaks to you. Then declare your intention in writing with a statement like: “I intend to be more ________ to the best of my ability.” And when you slip, “be kind” to yourself and begin again.
I wish us all success in achieving our 2023 “doing” and “being” goals and grace towards ourselves along the way. Happy New Year!