We like to take a slightly different approach to New Year’s Resolutions. Rather than holding ourselves to unrealistic standards, as many resolutions around diet and lifestyle do (stop eating carbs, exercise everyday, quit sugar), we like to approach the New Year by developing a vision that excites and inspires us.
When we articulate our vision, we allow ourselves to see the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish and why. From this place we can choose resolutions and goals that will guide us closer to our version optimal health and wellbeing, the foundation for full potential living.
For many, New Year’s Resolutions are restrictive and stir up dread, not excitement (hence why we reserve them for one time of year). Most of us do not envision our healthiest self having a love/hate relationship with food, yo-yo dieting, and feeling guilty after we eat something; but, all too often resolutions stir up these feelings and behaviors because they are not sustainable, not enjoyable, and not grounded in our values, life mission, and the vision we want to embody.
“You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true.” – Richard Bach
Many people have fear around visioning: But, what if I never accomplish that which I envision? This pervasive thought can be very damaging; it can hold us back from articulating a brighter future and believing that future is possible.
Keep in mind, a vision is a guidepost – something to walk toward, but not grasp too tightly. A vision provides clarity and direction, but the key is to approach visioning with a hint of Zen. This means, detach. Be clear, but detach. Know where you are going, but find solace and acceptance for where you are.
One way to do this is to land ourselves in gratitude daily for what we have, right NOW. We must remind ourselves that we are whole and that we embody the integrity to see our dreams to fruition. We must do this every day.
Visioning is not about being realistic. But it is about believing.
“It is one of those periods where only the dreamers are practical.” – Lewis Mumford
When you vision, try not to get caught up in the discrepancy between then and now, or overwhelmed with all that you must do to realize your vision, but do be truthful with yourself. Notice where disbelief arises – I could never do that, or be that – and try to soften to it. Don’t ignore it!
Disbelief does not just float away once we rest awareness on it, but awareness allows us to begin the process of intentionally shifting our thoughts, beliefs, and actions to effectively reroute neuropathways and in doing so create space for change. (For more on shifting neuropathways, I highly recommend diving into the work of John Assaraf).
Now, get your pen and paper out and let the visioning process begin!
Step 1: Imagine you are the healthiest version of yourself.
Remember, this is your vision. Maybe you feel your healthiest now, or maybe there are just a few things you could be doing differently to get there. Or perhaps there are a whole bunch of things you could change.
Note: Being intentional about what we will do in the short-term is a key aspect of visioning, but should come after you dream a little (see Step 2). This is your opportunity to think big!
Now, from the perspective of your healthiest self, answer the following questions – best if you write your answers down.
- What do you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you have a morning routine? What do you eat for breakfast?
- What are the nature of your thoughts as you enter into your day? About yourself, about others in your life, about your work, etc.?
- What is your relationship with yourself like? Do you criticize yourself, or do love yourself unconditionally?
- How does exercise and movement fit into your life?
- What is the nature of your social life and relationships? Who do you surround yourself with? What do you do together?
- Is there a passion project or extra-curricular activity that you prioritize? If so, how often?
- What foods do you eat every day? What foods don’t you eat, or do you maybe eat just occasionally?
- Which of your traits and strengths shine through?
- What are your accomplishments? What are you working on?
- Are you working on yourself? If so, how? Do you read personal development books, attend retreats or conferences, go back to school, travel?
- What are your core values? What type of person are you? What do you care most deeply about? How do you express these values in your choices, thoughts, and relationships?
Step 2: Identify areas for improvement and establish a timeline.
While visioning is often thought of as the act of looking long into the future, there is no chance we will ever reach our far-off dreams if we do not first land ourselves in our short-term vision: in the daily, weekly and monthly decisions, tasks, and accomplishments that are going to drive us in the direction of our dreams.
What do you want to do differently?
- How are your current health, mindset, and daily choices holding you back from achieving your potential in the areas identified above?
- How are you holding yourself back from being and feeling your best?
- What do you need to do to get out of your own way?
Be gentle with yourself, but do be honest. It is from this place of truly confronting our self-deprecating habits with compassion that we create space to shift them.
Now, establish your timeline.
- What do you need to do today to better align with your wellness vision?
- This week?
- This month?
- Next month?
- And so on…
Baby steps are the best kinds of steps when it comes to making lasting lifestyle change. Chunk it down. Don’t be afraid to focus on changing just one habit at a time.
Step 3: Seal your commitment.
Just a couple more questions to seal your commitment and ensure your vision feels believable and achievable:
- Do you believe that you can realize the vision you’ve laid out? If not, how can you adapt the vision, extend the timeline, or work on your thinking and beliefs to make it feel more realistic?
- Are there aspects that stir up more excitement and/or emotion than others? If so, focus on these first. Are there aspects that stir up no emotion or excitement? If so, maybe these things are not that important to you, or maybe you need to approach them from a more value-based angle – i.e., find a motivator that pulls on your heart strings a bit (kids, parents, friends, pets…how will realizing this piece of your vision strengthen your relationship with someone else, or strengthen your relationship with yourself?)
- Do you truly want to realize this vision? Sometimes we decide on a vision that is sought after by others, or that is ego-driven, but deep down we would be perfectly content (if not more content) never realizing it at all. If this is the case, the chances of us getting there are slim to none, and that’s ok.
Although the New Year provides us with a wonderful opportunity to reflect and envision, don’t limit this process to just one time of year, work on yourself all year round with compassion, love and Zen.
Happy New Year from OmBody Health! We are always hear to support you in uncovering your best self.
Are you a leader of an organization or part of your company’s wellness committee? For guidance around developing your Organization’s Wellness Vision, click here.
About the Author
Allie Andrews is the Founder and Program Director at OmBody Health. She is a Certified Health Coach and self-care advocate and author. Allie and her team have been transforming employee wellbeing since 2014. Learn more.