Remember last New Year's? That shiny new feeling? What if you could have that fresh start any time you wanted, just by choosing to pivot?
Last new year's, I had a very, very detailed plan for all the changes I would make in my life. I planned to hire a personal trainer, launch a new offering, make an earnest attempt at capsule wardrobing, and spend more time rooted in sisterhood with the girlfriends I loved.
The sisterhood piece was easy, and The Calling Connection was born (though later than I envisioned), but the capsule wardrobing was a disaster. I blame this mostly on Target’s new clothing line and my inability to deny myself anything with glitter or velvet. The personal trainer lasted a whole month, which impressed even me, but at some point in February, I picked up my old yoga routine and abandoned the rock hard abs campaign. I think it was a good choice.
For so many of us, myself included, the seduction of fresh starts quickly gives way to the fear of fucking it up, of missing the mark, and of losing all the goodness we intended. It becomes punishing and then, naturally, our motivation lags. Creating the life you want is rarely a perfect, linear, uphill-all-the-time process. More often than not, it contains fits and starts.
For my own resolutions and intentions, I’m cutting out the fat and really getting down to what matters. Instead of ten thousand things I need to manifest, accomplish, or embody right way, I’m narrowing the field to four: four simple things to put in place to keep me on track regardless of whether my motivation lags. Whether you’re buzzing around with tons of new goals and ideas or barely limping over the January finish line, I’ve made you a short list of exactly what you need in order to make this your most purposeful year yet…without burning yourself out in the process. Because simple and sustainable win every time, and because there's no expiration date on positive change.
#1: A One-Word Theme for the Year
Over the past few years, instead of resolutions, I’ve aimed for intentions—specifically, one word to embody that feels like an opportunity, not an anchor. In 2016, it was “sovereignty;” 2017, “wholeness,” and this year: “true.” One-word intentions work because they take the “shoulds” out and focus on what you desire to come into deeper connection with, not on fixing what’s wrong or broken about you. (Hint: If you're reading this and it's not the new year, no big deal. You can make a word of the month or word of the season).
To do this, grab a notebook and something to write with. Turn to a clean page and draw three columns: mental, physical, and spiritual.
For each of the columns, make a list of how you want to feel in each realm in 2018.
For example, for the mental realm, you might want to feel a sense of clarity. For the spiritual realm, a word that consistently comes up for me is “still” or “stillness.” The point isn’t to get it perfect or right—it’s simply to unlock the creative parts of you that operate outside the “shoulds.”
Set a timer for 10 minutes and use the follow questions as a brainstorming guide. Jot down whatever comes to mind without censoring yourself.
- In the Mental Realm: What do I desire more clarity on? How do I want to feel in my work and my creativity? What do I want to learn and explore in 2018? Where do I want to focus my thoughts?
- In the Physical Realm: How do I want to feel in my body? How do I want to feel about my health? About my bank account? What do I want to experience in my home or physical space?
- In the Spiritual Realm: How do I want to feel in terms of connection to myself, others, and my higher power?
Now, take a step back and look for patterns in what you’ve written. What words are repeated? What words immediately jump out at you as important and resonant?
Pick one that feels true as a theme for you, and create some way to keep the word in mind. You can get crafty with this and create a small altar or vision board for your word, or you can keep it simple, like writing your word on a post-it note and taping it to your desk or bathroom mirror. Personally, I’ve cleared a small place on my desk for my word, “true,” and added several small objects that remind me of what truth is to me and why it’s important for me to embody this year. However you choose to bring your word to life is the right choice for you. The goal is simply to place it in an area where you’ll be able to connect with it frequently as a reminder.
#2: A Kickass Planner
The reason why most goals fail is because we greet them with this giant rush of inspiration, throw a ton of energy at them, and burn ourselves out. To stay accountable to your goals, just like staying accountable to your intentions, you need a daily practice that you can revisit frequently rather than throwing all your energy behind it once and hoping it will stick. I’ve found that the very best way to keep myself on track with what I want to accomplish is by scheduling it out. I am not the “leap and the net shall appear” coach. I am the “let’s craft a plan” coach, and as beautiful and important as spontaneity and flow are, sometimes…you just gotta do the work.
Why not do it in an organized and colorful way? Check out this post for the 8 best planners for creatives and change-makers (that’s you!) and see which one will lead you to world domination…or at least getting more meaningful shit done. Many are undated so you can get started right away.
#3: A Simple Grounding Practice
One of the most common ways I see beautiful, creative, wonderful women “shoulding” on themselves is by creating overly complicated, unrealistic rituals designed to make them feel grounded, centered, and at peace. It’s like we have this idea that you’re either sitting on the couch eating Doritos or you’re goddessing about all day in crystals and kimonos. You’re likely going to experience both, so there’s no need to shame the Dorito moments.
I have a darling client who described her morning ritual to me in detail. First, she’d rise with the sun and prepare a morning green juice or tea, then go for a walk. Then she’d return to her house, meditate for a few minutes, pull an oracle card for guidance for the day, and head to yoga. Once she was back from yoga, she would try to get a little intuitive journaling in, make up a cup of coffee, and sit down to start her day…and she was already exhausted. “Girrrrl,” I said. “If your grounding ritual is so long and complicated that it’s leaving you feel rushed and profoundly ungrounded, stop! Pick one of those things. Or even have a menu of options and choose one per day. so you can switch it up. You don’t get any gold stars for being the wokest chick with the biggest crystals. What actually works for your life?”
She ended up with the green juice and sunrise walk thing, and it seriously uncomplicated her mornings.
Creating the perfect morning ritual is a process, but there’s no need to sabotage it by trying to do all the things. If there’s any stress in your “healthy” habits, stop them, and opt for something simpler instead.
Here are a few of my favorite no-fuss ways to ground simply and without all the drama:
- Pull one tarot or oracle card to serve as the theme of your day
- meditate for 10 minutes using a simple, free app like Calm
- set a timer and journal for 15 minutes without worrying about what comes out (If you want some journaling inspiration to jumpstart your practice, you can check out Soul Scribbles here)
- move your body
- make an orgasm happen
- eat great food and really savor and enjoy it
- write a letter of gratitude to a wonderful friend
- sing in the shower
- make a list of all the things you’re excited about or grateful for that day
The point is simply to create a no-frills of way of getting in touch with your intuition and your core on a consistent basis. Regardless of what that looks like for you, those tiny efforts add up.
#4: Calling Clarity
Don’t let another year go by without feeling solid in your why. Unless you’re new, you’ve probably heard me talk about the Native American idea of “7 Generations Work.” My inelegant description of this beautiful concept is that we should live our lives with the next 7 generations in mind, that the people who come after us are important, and we are to be good stewards of our planet and our gifts so we can leave future generations with something beautiful. My mom used to say something similar on Girl Scout camping trips: “We always leave places better than we found them…so y’all better pick up your trash before it’s time to go!”
This concept has been really inspirational to me when I’d rather not look into the dark or make the changes I’m afraid of. The idea of “7 Generations Work” has given me a bigger reason to look my calling in the face and humbly ask how I can serve it to improve the world.
If you have even the slightest inkling that you might have a calling, you have one. If you have even the slightest desire to make the world a better place, its on purpose. This is your year to own it.
Nothing can be achieved without clarity, so the very first place to start is making sure you really, truly understand what your calling is and why it matters. I designed a 5-video training course specifically to help you clarify your calling and understand how to bring it to life. It’s called The Calling Connection, and you can check it out here.