We’re a few weeks into the new year and the chances are that millions of people have failed to stick to well-intentioned resolutions. If you’ve given up, fear not. New Year resolutions and goal setting goals are over-rated. Here’s why:
A few months ago I joined a gym. But I didn’t make going to the gym a ‘goal’.
In fact, up until now, I’ve never considered myself a gym person. I like taking hikes, I like doing yoga, but a gym, nah, not my thing. Or, so I thought.
So what prompted the turn around?
I could make the case that because of a history of osteoporosis in my family and I want to build my bones. This is true, but it’s not the reason I sought out a gym. I could also argue that hiking in the cold of winter is difficult, and going to the gym is a perfect remedy, but this wasn’t what motivated me either.
What motivated me was the fact that I’d been getting subtle intuitive hits that I needed to workout. For weeks my logical everyday mind did battle with my intuition. It came up with reasons why I should go to the gym and reasons why not. My thinking got me all the way to stale-mate. But becuase I’ve come to trust my wisdom over the opinions of my personal mind, I signed up at the gym.
Growth not goals
I’m happy that I’ve found a gym that focuses on wellness rather than the goal of creating a body image. I’m also pleased that it emphasizes the importance of community over being an anonymous body on a treadmill. Health is more than physical ability, it’s about connection, to ourselves and others.
Now, eight weeks into my routine, I’ve increased my cardio workout and added pounds to the strength training. I’m even finding those nasty abdominal crunches are getting easier.
More than this though, I’m getting to know myself better. I’m paying attention to my body, balance and breathing more closely; this is just happening naturally. Already I feel the benefits of working out are reaching further than simply building muscle.
How to create real change
Using our intuition to guide our choices can be tricky because it’s a bit like trying to see something in our peripheral vision. It’s there in your field of vision, but it’s easy to miss.
Like any new skill, tuning in to your inner knowing takes practice, and trial and error, before you can do it accurately and reliably. The benefit though is that when you’re plugged in you skip old unproductive ways of thinking and acting. You bypass the effort it takes to motivate yourself with goals by trying to convince yourself of the benefits.
Make it easy on yourself
Check to see if the goals you’re holding are motivated by what you think you should, or ought, to do. Do you think you should be thinner, stronger, more healthy, more sociable, richer, happier or more spiritual? Motivation of the ‘should’ variety creates resistance. And, when you examine your ‘should’ thoughts, you’ll likely find that they’re composed of externally imposed expectations, rather than what your heart really wants.
Following your intuition may challenge you to go beyond what you thought possible. But an intuitive impulse doesn’t create resistance. Instead, you’ll find yourself on a journey of self-discovery. And that means finding your true capacity for health, fulfillment and enjoyment.
The other day, happily making strides on a treadmill, I started chatting to my neighbor on the machine next to me. It turns out she was eighty-nine years old. She joined the gym after falling and breaking her hip. She told me that she could have stayed home, accept that she was getting old and needed to slow down, but something told her that she was not done yet. So she joined the gym for the first time in her life, and was loving it. We both laughed at our shared surprise in discovering we liked working out.
What resolutions are you ready to give up? Don’t think too hard about it. Let the goal go and see what your wisdom is nudging you towards.