Many people see the beginning of a new year as an opportunity for a fresh start. This often takes the form of healthy New Year’s resolutions such as giving up “negative” habits like indulging in holiday treats or taking up “positive” ones like exercising or meditating.
While there is nothing wrong with trying to improve oneself or live a healthier lifestyle, resolutions sometimes miss the mark for creating true change and progress.
Why? Perhaps because the resolutions people set are often made in response to other people’s definitions of how individuals are supposed to look, act or be.
I set goals for what I want to accomplish at the beginning of the year rather than making resolutions. My list tends to be a mix of specific and measurable athletic, business and personal growth—and which have clear steps needed to accomplish them.
I have found success with this approach overall, but recently I have discovered there is something even more powerful as a change maker: I have been listening to my soul. As Rumi wrote, “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you.”
I am not talking about going to church or getting religion—although some people may feel called to do so. Rather, I’m suggesting the pursuit of discovering one’s deeper self and inner longings—and acting upon what is learned.
For me, on some days it may be as simple as taking a 10-minute nap or making a quick trip to Ben & Jerry’s for an ice cream treat. On others, I might clear my schedule to go kayaking or even head to the beach for the weekend.
Regardless of the message, when I listen to and act upon my deepest desires, I’m giving myself love and respect, and treating myself as well as I would advise a friend to do in the same situation.
In other words, I am making my health, happiness and joy a priority. You can too.
4 Steps to Setting Healthy New Year’s Resolutions
How do you connect to the desires of your spirit? There probably is not a perfect science, but I want to share a few ideas you can try to get in touch with your highest self:
1. Be quiet. Make time for being quiet. Whether you meditate, pray, journal or something else, allow yourself time and space each day to be quiet and still. As a culture, we think every waking moment has to be filled with something, but I encourage you to make that something, nothing, at least once a day.
2. Reflect. As you start and end your day, take a few moments to reflect on what you are most excited about that day or what brought you the greatest joy or pleasure. Make them tangible by writing them down and maybe sharing with your spouse or a “gratitude partner.” Regularly acknowledging the good stuff with gratitude will help you recognize and appreciate it.
3. Create. Try a new skill, activity or hobby—or revisit one you enjoyed at another point in your life. Listen to music you’ve never heard, take a dance class or just drive around a neighborhood you’ve never been in. Doing something out of your routine and having new adventures cultivates anticipation, creativity and imagination.
4. Pay Attention. As you still the mind and body, try new things, and connect to your life with gratitude, you will likely begin to notice things that excite and enliven you. Pay attention to what sparks your heart—and do more of it more often.
As massage therapists and caregivers, we can be so focused on making our clients and others the center of our time and care, we forget to invest some of our energy in ourselves. However, listening to and loving your deepest self, through your deliberate actions and intentions, can bring truly impactful changes to your life or business.
About the Author
Felicia Brown is a speaker, author and business-and-marketing coach for massage, spa and wellness professionals. Her newest book, “Marathon Marshall & The Dream Team Ducks Go to Boston” (co-authored by Marshall Dahneke) will donate $1 to the Massage Therapy Foundation for each copy sold. Preorder your copy at feliciabrown.com/boston-book.