So for the last 10 years or so, I have set goals, made resolutions, done all the things we do with a bright, shiny New Year – and failed with pretty much 98% of them. Because that’s something new, right?
Over the last couple of years, and particularly the last couple of months, I’ve been taking the time to really look at why that happens, and what stops me from achieving the goals I set for myself.
It’s really very simple – fear.
I wrote last week about what it is I’ve been afraid of, and how I’ve made a very intentional choice to no longer be bound by fear.
And you know what?
I kid you not – barely a week later, and the difference in my life is astounding. From what goes on in my head to how I behave in my relationships, turning away from fear and choosing love instead is changing my life.
I have been learning and more and more over the last little while of my life that we operate from two places in our life – love and fear. That’s it. Everything we think, feel and do can be traced back to love or fear, and I feel like I’m stating the obvious when I elaborate to say that all the good, beautiful, joyful, positive things in our life originate from love, and all the negative, ugly, hurtful and horrible things in life come from fear (just for the record, the jury’s still out on pain – in my experience, pain can certainly come from love).
This concept is something I’ve been exploring through what I know of God and His plan for us as His creation – to live a life of love, as He first loved us, and that there is no fear in love, for perfect love drives out fear. It’s something that has really challenged me over the last 6 months particularly, as I’m someone who very easily falls prey to fear and worry, and it takes a lot of effort for me to turn away from wanting to prepare for what I see as the inevitable, or the ‘it could happen’, and to choose to embrace love and find hope and joy.
So I was VERY excited to stumble across Dr Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist who studies and researches the mind-brain connection, and writes about how our thoughts control our actions. Including the concept of there only being two primary emotions – love and fear – and how our toxic thoughts control our lives (which we have the ability to change!!!). You can bet I’ll be tracking down and devouring everything I can get my hands on because people, this is the key to living life – what we think controls what we do, and if our thoughts are shrouded in fear, we cannot live from a place of love, because if we feel one, we cannot feel the other.
If we focus on fear, we can’t see love, but when we focus on love, fear doesn’t even get a look-in. That, my friends, is what is changing my life. I’m not saying it’s easy, and that all of a sudden my life is sunshine and roses, but embracing this way of living, and being intentional about it, is turning my brain from a default of ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can and I will’.
I still get cross with my kids.
I still get frustrated with myself when things don’t go to plan.
I still worry about the ‘what ifs’.
But the difference is that I recognise how I feel, and choose to think differently. I apologise to the kids and give them a hug. I give myself some grace and just keep going. I remind myself that God knows everything I need, and has already prepared the way ahead of me.
So what does this all have to do with my goals and intentions?
I want them to work this time. I mean I really, really, really want them to work. So I need to do something different.
In the past, I have spent time planning and strategising and calendar-ing what it is I want to achieve. And then I tell lots of people, in the hope of making myself accountable. But inevitably, all my good intentions go by the wayside, for two reasons – I give up when it gets too hard/uncomfortable/boring/frustrating, and I don’t ask anyone to be an accountability partner.
This year, I’ve still been planning and strategising and writing things in my diary, but I’ve taken my time, and just let the process happen, rather than trying to force something that’s never going to happen. I also came across the theory that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen, because research shows that
Basically, talking about it is enough to satisfy the brain that you’ve actually done it. So this year, I’m keeping quiet. I’ve asked a few close friends to hold me accountable to certain goals, but that’s it. I will absolutely share and celebrate the goals I achieve along the way, and the process to get there, but because I’m being intentional about changing old habits in 2014, I’m trying something different.
How about you? Are you a goal-setter? Do you need accountability, or are you disciplined in being accountable to yourself? Share or don’t share? Please join in in the comments, so we can encourage each other through this journey.