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Are You Full of Good Intentions?
Expert Author Susan Leigh
December and January can often be months which provide valuable opportunities for reflection and time to evaluate the direction in which our life is heading. The long holiday period can provide a natural break in which to assess what's been achieved during the previous twelve months and give time to start planning for the coming New Year.
We may start January full of good intentions but it's not uncommon to soon fall back into old habits, especially if some of our plans fall by the wayside. Then we can end up berating ourselves, feeling a failure and becoming disappointed at our lack of progress.
Let's consider what may happen, even when we're full of good intentions, and then explore ways to help us maintain our resolve.
- Check if you're setting yourself goals that don't particularly motivate you. It may be that you're adopting someone else's agenda; they want you to stop smoking, join a gym, learn a particular skill or be a successful business person, but if that doesn't fill you with joy you're not going to sustain your enthusiasm beyond the first hurdle that comes along. You have to really want something in order to persevere though the difficult and stressful times. A positive focus can keep you motivated and on track when the going gets tough.
- Timing is important. There may be many things happening in your life that demand your time and energy, leaving you with few reserves for new challenges and opportunities, no matter how inspirational they may be. Financial worries, children, ailing relatives, a demanding boss may all feature in your life and leave you with little time or mental space to dedicate to something new. If that happens you may need to respect yourself and focus on your immediate quality of life in order to support your health and wellbeing.
- Find something that has meaning for you, that allows you to feel that you've done something really special with your time. But if it's not viable for you to fully immerse yourself in a project or career change at the moment, might you be able to organise your time and commitments a little differently? It might free you up and enable you to become involved in something on a smaller scale that holds real interest for you.
- Is there a way you could discuss your dreams and aspirations and let others know what you'd love to be doing? Others may be genuinely unaware of how you feel or not fully appreciate the many demands that are made of you. You may be perceived as someone who thrives on being busy, who undertakes everything with apparent ease. Share your stresses and let others in.
- Ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness to let others be supportive. Or consider buying in help so that you can use your time more efficiently. Some skills like accountancy, technical expertise, PA support can often be outsourced on an ad hoc basis and can reduce your stress levels whilst freeing up your time. On a domestic level it may be useful to consider hiring cleaning, ironing or garden support so that time at home is not spent fully occupied with chores.
- Lists can be a good way to encourage a clearer focus. Spending twenty minutes on a Sunday to assess the week ahead or sitting down each evening to plan the next day can be a great way to bring the spotlight back on those good intentions. Decide what needs to be done each day in order to move towards your goals. Making a phone call, arranging a meeting, filling out a form may seem like tiny steps, but each step can move you in the direction you want to go. At the end of each day give yourself credit for the actions you've taken.
- Failure's okay. If you try something and it doesn't pan out the way you'd hoped, that's fine. You've learned something new, tried something out and possibly made some new contacts along the way. Don't allow failure to signify the end; it's merely a setback or detour along the way, and sometimes those detours can bring unexpected opportunities and gifts.
- Don't wait for everything to be perfect before you have a go. Not every 'I' needs to be dotted or 't' crossed. Often simply getting started can provide sufficient impetus for things to start coming together and happening.
- Use the winter months as a time to de-clutter and clear out the old. When we keep adding to our 'stuff', without taking time to assess what we've already got, we can gradually become mentally and physically overwhelmed and unable to appreciate the things that are important. It's important to make time to occasionally discard the old so that we can appreciate the new.
- Being 'resilient' is often thought of as being tough, strong and keeping going no matter what. In fact resilience demands that we stop occasionally, take stock of things and then adapt and grow in the light of new challenges and new goals. The companies I work with and the workshops I run, place a high value on training staff to be resilient by taking stock of the present moment and learning to adapt to an ever-hanging and unpredictable future.
Just as the trees use winter to shed their leaves and rest awhile, so we too can benefit from a period of reflection and introspection. Use this natural break to consider your options and formulate a viable action plan. Then your good intentions can really start to take shape.

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