Annette Boden MSc

Wishing you well and happy as the new year 2018 begins

Published 17 January 2018 Associated Categories Reflections
Woodland stream

Wishing you well and happy as the new year begins and an invitation to join me in setting your intentions and goals

, and establishing a new way of building emotional resilience – making this your best year for change and achievement. 

Setting our goals and intentions for 2018 as the year begins

As this New Year begins, it is time once again to think about positive change, improvements, resolutions, and achieving goals, aims and dreams!
A key phrase to keep in mind this year is – ‘a step at a time with care and compassion’ and the key words to focus your endeavours on are ‘Balance’ and ‘harmony’.
The first day retreat of the year on January 13 saw the start of my new year begin with a wonderful group of people who I had the privilege of sharing the day with as we set our intentions and goals for the year ahead. If you were unable to attend-it’s not too late to begin to focus your attention on achieving goals and setting intentions as the year provides ample opportunity for renewing your vows and commitment to yourself and  your well-being.
As the year unfolds and you are looking for support on your personal well-being journey – check out the now well-established and popular Willersley mindful self-compassion  weekend retreats. These run twice a year in the Spring-setting and revisiting intentions and in the Autumn – reviewing and refining our progress and taking time out to re-balance and reconnect with our purpose and highest nature.
The Mindful self-compassion programme transforms and transcends the mundane, and challenges of daily life-teaching essential skills for emotional resilience and well-being

As Jack Kornfield writes in his new year message

“A long-term intention is also called a vow or dedication. …Setting a long-term intention is like setting the compass of our heart. No matter how rough the storms, how difficult the terrain, even if we have to backtrack around obstacles, our direction is clear. The fruits of dedication are visible in the best of human endeavours.”

Here is a reminder of some important concepts to consider as the new year unfolds:

  • Balance – going full steam ahead with a radical diet puts excess pressure on you at the very start of the year. It is far better to consider eating healthily and mindfully (see https://www.annetteboden.co.uk/weight-management/ for further information).
  • Harmony- this comes about from acknowledging moderation and moving towards your goals a step at a time, so that you are not overwhelmed.
  •  Compassion- work towards being kind to yourself and those around you, and in all your relationships. Practice compassion-and most importantly ‘self-compassion’ the physical and emotional benefits are well known. Check out my website here for further details about the Mindful Self-compassion programme.
  • Mindfulness- Acknowledging the beauty of nature every day. When you are walking- this is a good time to practice mindful awareness- being in touch with and being fully aware, in the present moment, of all you can see, hear, and feel on your weekly walk or daily journey.
  • Self-compassion and self-care
  • Why self -compassion is important? – Research shows that self-compassionate people engage in healthier behaviours like exercise, eating well, drinking less.
  • Research also shows that self-compassion provides the safety needed to admit mistakes, rather than needing to blame someone else for them, and that
  • self-compassionate people take greater personal responsibility for their actions. They don’t just beat themselves up when they fail and are less afraid of failure, and more likely to try again and persist in their efforts after failing.
  • It is strongly associated with fewer negative states like depression, anxiety, stress, and shame, and negative body image.
  • It is strongly linked to more positive states like happiness, life satisfaction, optimism, and better physical health.
  • Where mindfulness and self -compassion fit in and support you. Mindfulness is the foundation of self-compassion. We need to notice and turn towards our suffering before we can respond with kindness- it is the awareness of present -moment experience without judgment and with acceptance.
    Mindfulness helps you to pay attention and focus and self-compassion is an antidote to self- criticism. Kindness and compassion for self and others releases a powerful and important chemical called oxytocin that promotes our health and well-being. Compassion and loving kindness heals emotional rifts.
  • You can learn more and grow stronger this year as you check out the details for the Mindful self-compassion programme

And a note about letting go of old unwanted habits, thoughts, and beliefs that no longer serve you:
The Thai Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah once said:
“If you let go a little, you will have a little happiness
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of happiness
If you let go completely, you will be completely happy”

A word or two about keeping on track with goals, setting intention, and fulfilling dreams:
Michael Hyatt in his book “living forward” said
“When we are gone, the only essential thing we will leave behind are the memories we create in the lives of those we have touched and those we love…..we don’t have to leave them to chance. We can be intentional about creating them”
Setting our intention and goals one step at a time 
These intentions and goals can be large or small – but they must be meaningful to you –  e.g. reading more, engaging with friends more, a new hobby, a new career and reflect your core values. What areas of your life would you like to bring about some positive change?
Then pick one area to begin with today-right now – such as relationships, financial security, health?
Your intentions and goals can be large-embracing life’s bigger picture or small but significant steps to support your wellbeing in daily life.
What goals or goals would you like to aim for? No-one else can decide what they are for you.

  • What is your goal/goals for this year?
  • What would you like to change? What old unwanted habit would you like to let go of?
  • What stands in your way? What are your blocks? Internal (beliefs and thoughts) or external (the practicalities of every-day life and demands to be met.
  • What can you let go of right now that frees you up to take the first small step?
  • What is the first step you need to take?
  • What intention will you set for yourself?

As you take this time to reflect quietly and write down your answers-your goals and intentions-perhaps even planning to journal as the year unfolds-on the nature of your journey and what arises along the way.
Remember-as Michael Hyatt talks about having a plan of action –  it is a framework to engage with and you can add to or subtract from as the year unfolds – you are setting the intention- and this can be the start of a life-long practice you revisit annually, monthly, weekly, daily –  write it down, sign it date it and keep it as a reference.

A note on responsibility
When we are living in accord with our core values we have balance and harmony and an enduring sense of well-being and emotional resilience. As you set your intentions and goals for the year ahead you are beginning to address change where it is needed. We may need to address change in our daily habits and we will be looking at this in more detail when we focus our attention on ‘self-compassion in daily life’.
Self-compassion does not mean letting yourself off the hook and relinquishing responsibility for your life and what brings meaning and value, and joy and happiness- it merely encourages you to gently pick yourself up and start again when you stray from the path, make a mistake, and don’t succeed fully in some way.

In his book “Being in balance” Wayne Dyer talks about being in balance and says,
“The single most important tool to being in balance is knowing that you and you alone are responsible for the imbalance between what you dream your life is meant to be, and the daily habits that drain life from that dream”
He continues:
“If you’re out of balance, its primarily because you’ve energetically allowed your habits to define your life. Those habits, and the consequences thereof, are the result of the energy you given them”

My train track analogy
You can imagine- and then create focus on the destination-the goal. Setting your intention is the rail track connecting 1 line to another –  if they are not in alignment they don’t connect for you to complete your journey- so, if you continue to give time and mental energy to being in a state of disconnect from your dream and reality, or a state of imbalance through living in fear, complaining, or expecting the worst-then it’s time to retrain the brain and address what Rick Hanson describes as our ‘negativity bias’.
Our brain is designed for our survival rather than our happiness- Velcro for the negative and Teflon for the good-but we have the ability through our own brain’s neuroplasticity to change that – we can activate our ‘soothing system’ through practices of self-care and self-compassion as an antidote to self- criticism and defeatist thinking , and by refocusing your attention on your abilities, capabilities, and strengths- so you bring your life back into balance- to realign your dreams and goals with your intentions and daily habits, so the tracks connect and the train reaches its destination.
You can only bring balance and alignment to connect the pathway if you look forwards and upwards- as Oscar Wilde once said: “we may all be in the gutter but some of us are looking up at the stars”
If you focus on your mistakes or things that haven’t yet worked out -it’s like you are stuck looking through the rear- view mirror and the tracks cannot connect- as Willey Jolley said: “the past is a frame of reference not residence”
So, don’t be hard on yourself for mistakes you’ve made or going off track on occasion-life does get in the way sometimes and we have to meet the demands and overcome the challenges of the moment –  Beating yourself up wastes valuable energy- mistakes are only a starting point- focus on what you have already achieved- if you are reading my newsletter and have taken to time to read this far then you are already taking first steps to taking control of the vehicle that will take you to your destination safely and with.

 

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