Can you believe we’re already more than half way through January! I know folks that went ahead and made New Year’s resolutions are already cringing at the ones they’ve broken or have to “look forward” to. If making resolutions is your thing then all the power to you but I’m taking a different approach this year.
Although you don’t have to use January 1 as a “start date” for simplicities sake I’m going with it. I’m taking the approach that the past is the past and the future is open, flexible, untamed. The future is what we decide to make it (consciously or not). I’ve taken the approach of not looking back at all my mistakes, all the decisions I’ve made, all the things I may not have achieved and then to make resolutions intended to change my behaviour(s) and to correct my discretions or avoidance in the past. Looking at the future I’ve started saying to myself (yes I talk to myself…lol) what is it that I want to do this year? Where do I want to go? Who do I want to see?
Taking cues from all the professional coaches out there I’m focused on visualizing the answers to the want/where/who questions. Once I get a clear “vision” or idea in my head it’s easier to make behavioural changes, adjust my habits or make decisions that will help me achieve my desires. How’s this different from a resolution? Well most resolutions are written or thought in forms of I need to exercise more, stop procrastinating, read more books. The problem when we think like that is the lack of a prize at the end. What do you get if you do those “things”? Even going so far as to say, more exercise means I can get into my speedo this summer (sorry about the scary visual) really is a lack luster kind of pointless view. So if I were to wear a speedo, what would I do with that opportunity? Could I go to the beach as I do now? Of course I could. I don’t need to wear a skimpy suit to visit the beach.
Instead of thinking in such narrow terms what about visualizing myself on a cool kayaking trip with my daughter, riding my bike in a long ride event for charity, on that long hike with my friends. If I work hard to make these visuals seem “real”, let myself actually feel the joy of paddling, smelling the salt air, seeing my daughter smile as she experiences the new sights and letting myself physically smile (as I visualize) as I feel the laughter that will come as we splash each other and play games at the campsite. By thinking/feeling this way my mind & body should instinctively start doing what’s required to make these events happen. OK, I know some of you are saying “doesn’t that mean you’ll have to exercise more?” Yes but I won’t be exercising for the sake of exercising or for the opportunity to wear a small piece of spandex that I should never wear. What the visualization shows me is the fun I’ll have with my daughter, the awesome coastal views and marine life I’ll see from the kayak around Victoria BC and most importantly supporting and growing the relationship my daughter. I’m not just make a list on the computer or piece of paper, I’m taking myself mentally to where I want to go, where I want to be.
Take my career. I have things I want to do, accomplish, as the Director of Marketing for the awesome Accent Inns. By visualizing what that looks like I should naturally start making any behavioral changes required to get there. That may mean more reading, more studying, more travel. Since I take pride in my work it makes a lot more sense to see my career in the future as I want it to be, instead of thinking, “I should read more books.”
Some of you may think I’m splitting hairs but trust me, visualizing your future, convincing yourself that the future you see is not only what you want but completely attainable… that’s a much better way to convince your mind into making the behavioral changes. Better than focusing on the mistakes made in the past (depressing) and trying to think of all the little things required to do to not make those mistakes again. So tiring and negative…Yuk! The look forward method is a far more flexible and positive way to handle change allowing for some time to make the changes in your routine required to achieve your preferred future. That way if you miss one week of exercise you don’t just give up because you’ve broken your resolution already, thinking “so why bother” (remember my friends mentioned at the beginning). In the new outlook method you still have your vision to shoot for using whatever methods your mind comes up with, bypassing the “hiccups” that are bound to happen.
So 2014 is my year looking forward not back. New Year, New Outlook!
John Espley (Mountain Man), Director of Marketing & Communications, Accent Inns.