Happy New Year!

How do you want to feel in 2010?

Two New Year's Resolutions postcards
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It’s that time of year when we start to think about those New Year’s Resolutions. All the things we want to do, have and be in this New Year – new car, exotic holiday, lose weight, a new career, etc.

Often we don’t realise consciously that what we want to have or achieve are just a means to an end. What we really want from our possessions and experiences is the feeling or emotion that it gives us.

Perhaps you want to have an exotic holiday. As you imagine the holiday of your dreams what feelings and emotions arise for you? Maybe you imagine feeling relaxed, excited, enthusiastic and happy. Have you ever spent time day dreaming about what your holiday is going to be like – enjoying the feelings you’ll have before you even get there. Or perhaps you want to lose weight. That might make you feel fit, healthy and attractive.

Advertisers figured this out a long time ago. It’s obvious from all the sofa adverts at this time of year that having a deluxe leather sofa with recliner options will give you a happy contented family or an appreciative and attractive partner. Or you could join an exclusive health club and become fit and attractive like the lithe young people in the advert (who obviously don’t need it).

The seductive voices of advertising tell us “just get this thing or take part in this activity and you will be rewarded with these feelings”. I think a sofa is not the only way to have a happy family. Joining a health club is not the only way to feel fit.

I think there is a more useful way to think about New Year resolutions that gives us a better chance of getting what we want and many more choices in how we get there.

How do you want to feel in 2010? What feelings or emotions would you like to feel more of?

How would your New Year resolutions be different if started by choosing the emotional states you wanted to experience?

If you knew how you wanted to feel then you would be able to plan as many different ways as you wanted to get the emotional states you wanted.

If you wanted to feel more relaxed you wouldn’t have to buy an expensive sofa to feel that. You might take up meditation or yoga, have a massage, enjoy a cup of tea and a good book. There are lots more possibilities when you have the end in mind. You might even, if you really wanted to, buy a sofa!

Here’s a short process for choosing some new New Year’s resolutions

Step 1.

Choose the feelings and emotions you would like to feel more of over the coming year. Make a list. Make it as long as you like, we’re going to refine it in the next step. If anything on the list is a an object or an experience cross it out and add the feelings/emotions having that object or experience will give you.

Note: It’s important to make a list of what’s important to you, rather than what other people think is important to you. This is your list not theirs.

Creating this list might take a bit of soul searching and head scratching, but knowing what is important to you is worth it’s weight in gold. This is being able to realise the feelings/emotions that are important to you

Here’s some feelings/emotions I want to feel more of in 2010:

  • love
  • energy
  • enthusiasm
  • fulfilment
  • health
  • relaxation
  • determination
  • satisfaction

You’ll notice that these are all stated in the positive. If your list looks like this:

  • less anxiety
  • no more stress
  • fewer aches and pains

Then you need to rework these feelings into the positive by asking yourself “If I didn’t have the ‘problem’ what would I have instead?”

  • if I had less anxiety what would I have instead?
  • if I had no more stress what would I be feeling?
  • if I had fewer aches and pains how would I feel?

Substitute the answers to these questions into your list

Now you should have a list of your feelings/emotions expressed in the positive.

Step 2.

Work through your list sorting them in order of importance. What are the most important feelings for you to experience? Don’t be surprised if this task is not quite as easy as it seems. For some people sorting these feelings in order of importance in this way can be quite challenging.

Here’s (part of) my sorted list of feeling/emotional states

  • love
  • health
  • energy
  • fulfilment
  • relaxation

If you had a list of a hundred different items it would be difficult to find time to fulfill all of them so choose the most important. With a sorted list I can choose the top five as the states I want to work towards.

Step 3.

For each of those feelings/emotions think of at least three different ways of experiencing them or enhancing them if you already have them.

For example here are some of my options for greater health

  • Resume running
  • Eat more carefully
  • Go back to the yoga class I used to belong to
  • Do more hillwalking

I like all those ideas and they fit in with my desire to feel more healthy. (OK, the eating carefully might be a challenge – but I can handle it). They can also overlap with some of my other goals, if I’m with my partner for some of these, my love aspirations are served. If I go to yoga some of my relaxation needs are served.

If you have more than three ways for each feeling that gives you a choice in how you are going to achieve them, if one way doesn’t work then you have another means at your disposal to get what you want. So if the sofa doesn’t bring you domestic bliss there are at least two other things you can do.

Step 4.

Now you have a list of things to do and feelings to experience. Get started! Enjoy!

The feelings/emotions that are important to us are our values. Our values in general profoundly influence our behaviour. On February 6th & 7th I am running a two day workshop on Aligning Your Values. If you found identifying the feelings/emotions that are important to you difficult, or they seemed to be in conflict with each other, or not quite right, then this workshop is for you.

May I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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