Happy New Year! Where does the time go? Here we are, already midway through the first month of a new year. A natural time for many of us to reflect upon where we are, what we’ve come from, and where we are headed.
There’s no doubt that each new year offers perfect timing for us to hit the proverbial reset button, and draw our attention towards the things that matter to us most. With a heightened sense of awareness for what’s most important to us, it also makes sense to want to challenge ourselves by setting goals that help us develop into more masterful versions of ourselves.
It’s common knowledge that we typically have the most determination and gusto at the onset of our goal setting. This is why we see so many people willing to throw themselves fully toward the development of goals at the beginning of each year. Gyms get fuller, to-do lists get tackled, and I wouldn’t be surprised if sales in produce and self-help books see an uptick. At work, we often find ourselves more willing to incorporate new routines and habits, as we try to stay laser-focused on starting the year off on the right foot.
But, quite often, something happens to our stamina when we move past January – our motivation begins to weaken, as we fully reconcile the real level of effort required to successfully manifest our goals. This is where many of us begin to lose focus on accomplishing what previously felt so urgent. Then, we allow ourselves to get preoccupied or lazy, as we make countless mental excuses for why we are no longer interested in our goals.
So, what’s going on here? Why is it so easy to set goals and feel really excited about them, initially, only to lose all momentum as we set forth into the actual achievement process?
Well, it seems like so many of us choose to employ new expectations of ourselves without first building a solid foundation from which to launch. In other words, if we are incapable of feeling good about who we are and what we already have, right now, at this very moment, then it’s virtually impossible to find the energy boost we’ll need to achieve anything new, moving forward.
I don’t think there’s a person reading this who couldn’t benefit from adding this goal to the very top of her/his 2018 Goals List:
GOAL # 1: Double down on gratitude.
Think of how often we tend to set goals on the basis of escaping our current reality. We naturally deduce that “if x happens, then we will surely achieve happiness.” Yet, much like a large bonfire cannot burn without a spark, we cannot achieve happiness without first acknowledging its existence within the present moment.
In other words, energy attracts like energy, so in order to find momentum and motivation to take action towards the things we want, we will want to figure-out how to experience the feelings we want, right now, without allowing another minute to slip away from us. Here’s where gratitude offers the best starting point.
Finding gratitude for what we already have in life, not to mention, the people, places and things we interact with each and every day, is one of the easiest ways to shift our attention from what’s not working, to what is working. When we allow ourselves to focus on what’s working, we begin to reconnect ourselves to our current strengths, innate confidence, intrinsic values, as well as the support from physical, mental and emotional muscles we’ll need to face new challenges.
Gratitude not only boosts our motivation and energetic stamina, it also keeps us more focused on strategies that are most aligned with achieving what we want. Why? Because the things that make us feel grateful right now, are probably most closely related to whatever is going to make us satisfied later.
When we neglect to draw attention towards the things in life that make us grateful, even if the list is small, we tend to dwell on everything we don’t have, which ultimately makes us feel drained, distracted, and incapable from taking constructive actions toward building anything of value. We waste a lot of time complaining and reliving complications and problems, instead of looking towards solutions that could deliver exactly what we want; perhaps in new and unexpected ways.
It’s incredibly hard to be solution-oriented when we feel drained by our current circumstances. So, finding gratitude within the present moment, no matter how tough or easy it may seem, takes a lot of effort and practice. That’s right, just like every other goal we set-out to achieve, being successfully grateful involves our full commitment. And, as with any goal that is waiting for achievement, gratitude is most easily accomplished when we routinely implement smart strategies.
So, in addition to committing to doubling-down on gratitude as our number one goal this year, I encourage everyone to develop a regular practice of three or more strategies to become more grateful. By doing so, we will not only feel better, we will also raise our energy and ability to achieve any other goal.
Here’s a healthy dose of routine gratitude strategies to get us started:
1. Check-in with what you are most grateful for three times a day – when you wake-up, in the middle of the day, and before you go to bed.
2. Get in the habit of matching each complaint with one thing that makes you grateful about the same situation, and write it down.
3. Meditate on the question, “what am I most grateful for in my life?”
4. Write weekly thank you notes to people who are making a difference in your life.
5. Write a journal entry about what you are most grateful for at the end of each week, and read it at the start of the next week.
6. Spend more time on three new activities or people that make you feel extremely good and grateful.
7. Reach-out to someone from your past, each week, and tell them how you appreciate the difference they’ve made in your life.
8. Write down a list of things you have learned about life (or yourself) from your biggest adversaries.
9. Find ways to tell those closest to you how much you love them (pets included), each and every day.
10. Regularly ask your friends and family members to tell you about the things that make them the most grateful.
This of course, is just a starting point. I’m sure everyone can come-up with a plethora of ways to increase levels of gratitude, and I’d welcome any additional ideas about what makes you more grateful (seriously, email them to me, here!).
When we do start a routine of gratitude, it’s hard not to notice how amazing it feels. And, this feeling of juicy goodness builds the exact foundation we need to draw-in more goodness and tackle other goals. With gratitude, there’s no need to wait for “something good to happen later,” because with it, we can start to feel good… right now.
And, just because we are struggling with the achievement of another goal, does not mean that our aptitude for gratitude diminishes. If this seems to be the case, then we can simply own that we probably aren’t being grateful enough.
There’s a great quote I absolutely love by the Dalai Lama – “remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” So, how can we stretch ourselves and take a look around to find opportunities for gratitude, even in the most difficult situations?
This article can also be found at Thrive Global.