I walk into the gym in early January and see a slew of new faces. The back room that I usually have to myself is suddenly crowded, music blaring as bodies sweat and writhe through their workouts. As the weeks pass, I know these crowds will thin out until once again I enter that back room to find it quiet and empty…
Why? What is it that allows these good intentions - these “hard and fast” resolutions - to fall through? My theory is that most resolutions (and goals in general) focus on an endpoint as opposed to a methodology. This lack of scaffolding leads to: 1) an unclear plan of pursuit and 2) an unclear understanding of why the goal matters in the first place.
As a way to bring clarity into resolution / intention-setting for the new year, I created the following mind mapping exercise. You will need a pen and a paper to partake in it, so consider grabbing those supplies out now, or just bookmarking this activity to do later.
Step 1: Identify 5 Desirable Feelings
Start by drawing 5 horizontal ovals down the center of the page. In each oval, write down a feeling that you enjoy experiencing. Take your time here. Choose words that very specifically describe traits you like to embody. Examples of such words include: adventurous, artsy, benevolent, compassionate, creative, disciplined, energized, healthy, intelligent, intrigued, light-hearted, organized, sexy, soft, strong, tough, vulnerable, etc. Your map should look something like:
Step 2: Pinpoint What Leads to those Feelings
For this next step in the process, you’ll begin to draw lines from each oval to list ideas of activities / situations that evoke those feelings within you. For example, if you listed “adventurous” as one of your desirable feelings, then you might list “travel” as something that evokes that feeling. If you have listed “creative” then you might list “problem-solving” to the side. Try to list at least 2 ideas per feeling. Your map will begin to look something like this:
Step 3: Brainstorm Actionable Ideas
Now that you have general ideas of what activities / situations help you reach these feelings, let’s take it a step further by identifying specific, actionable plans. These can be one-time events or continuous practices -- whatever comes to mind that seems relevant. The idea is that these must be doable, though.
Building off of the example above, you may have “Adventurous” → “Travel” → “Girls’ weekend in the mountains” and “Lake Tahoe (Jake’s wedding in June)”. In this example, the girls’ weekend may be something I still have to plan and make happen, whereas the trip to Tahoe is something you’ve had on the calendar for a year. The goal here is simply to list out actual ideas as to how you can fulfill the Step 2 level (in this case, travel) in order to fulfill the Step 1 level of feeling adventurous.
On this level, again shoot for 2+ ideas for each of the Step 2 items. Your map may start to look more like this:
Step 4: Make a Plan
Take a moment to review your mind map. On the back of it or maybe on a separate sheet of paper altogether, list the following (with space in between each category): “Yearly,” “Monthly,” “Weekly,” “Daily.” Beneath each of these categories, write down ideas of what you can do to help make your mind map a reality.
Keep these ideas real and doable. For example, to sate my desire to feel adventurous, which we know is evoked when I travel, I might have “Trip to somewhere new” listed in the “Yearly” category, but nothing in the “monthly / weekly / daily” categories. This is more of a holistic overview, so don’t worry about having any certain number of items listed; just keep it grounded and doable. The more realistic you are here, the more likely you’ll actually follow through on this.
...This practice of backwards designing your goals can help contextualize them. The more we understand the purpose of our goals (in this case, the resultant feeling we get to experience), the easier it is to remain dedicated to them. Listing out such specifics like we did here also helps us see all the little steps that we can take to get where we want to be.
Although the energy of the new year can help these ideas to feel exciting and fresh right now, remember to keep coming back to this work as the months go by. Remain committed, and you will see the results you’re looking for.
Brooke is a contributing author for Tada Rugs. Tada Rugs is a 5x7 yoga mat disguised as an artistic area rug that you never have to put away. Tada is short for tadasana, or mountain pose, and our own backyard in the San Juan Mountains of Durango, Colorado is where we find our inspiration. Check out our new designs, enter for a chance to win a new Tada Rug, and be sure to follow us for deals and insider specials! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, or contact us through our website! Tie a room together and bring your practice home.
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