‘Tis that time of year when people begin to reflect on the year that will soon pass or think about their plans for the new year. Even if someone does not believe in making New Year’s resolutions, many will find that the end of the year is an opportunity to project some ideas or goals onto the new year. There’s plenty of information on the ‘net intended to help you make 2017 your best year yet… some more quirky or superstitious than others. Whether you plan to formally make some new year’s resolutions/promises or just want to “wing it” in 2017 is fine. However, I do encourage you make at least 1 goal or intention that will make you feel good. There’s nothing more empowering than taking charge of your happiness vs. allowing external circumstances to rule your mood or life. As simple as booking yourself a doctor appointment you have been putting off or planning an amazing trip—the New Year brings forth a special energy that practically screams: “JUST DO IT!”.
Listen to any effective leader, successful entrepreneur, or famous athlete and sure enough their success story eventually communicates a crystal clear message: 'Believe, and anything is possible'. Belief, it seems, is crucial; and its a concept that most of us were introduced to at a young age. What you believe about yourself and the goal you pursue is just as important as setting one.
If you are having trouble with the initiation or completion of a goal, an inventory of your current belief system is a good start. Belief systems are the stories or set of ideas that we cognitively use to make sense of reality. Since it is a perception, it is not always based on truth or knowledge. It can be influenced by culture, religion, sociopolitical factors, personal experiences; and they can change over time. I am certain, there are many things you believed in your past that you no longer believe. I am also certain there are things that you will never stop believing as well.
Some belief systems are pretty ingrained in our psyche and we may not even realize it. Its important to have the self-awareness to know what those belief systems are. Are they self defeating? Limiting? Supportive to your mission?
Below is a partial list of self-exploratory belief statements derived from the “Rational Belief Inventory”. Check them out, determine if they ring true. For each statement that you agree with, ask yourself: Does this statement support or limit my potential to achieve my goal?
I need approval from family, friends, and acquaintances.
Things that happen to me in the past control who I am.
I deal with tough problems by avoiding them.
My motto is, "Never volunteer."
I can't seem to get fearful things off my mind.
It is terrible when things don't go my way.
It's really easier to avoid problems and responsibilities than to face them.
I am happiest when I don't commit.
It's horrible when things in my life are not the way I want them to be.
I am reminded of the importance in "believing in yourself" through the children's books I read to my preschooler son. There's the story of a small yet willful train who "thought she could" (belief) and indeed was able to push a larger engine up a steep hill- against all odds. Another favorite, an elephant with large ears who at first "believed" that a magic feather would help him fly then later learns in amazement that he didn't need the magic feather. He just needed to believe in himself.
The reality is, somewhere between childhood and adulthood many goals, dreams, or ideas become silly, impossible, and/or "too much work". When people stop "believing" in the possibility of their dreams/goals/ideas, they eventually wither and die. What follows is usually unhappy relationships, unhealthy lifestyle cycles, crappy jobs, unloved homes, unfulfilled creativity etc. you get the point. If not careful, dreams, desires, or goals get cast aside to the shadow parts of our conscious. Too often, a crisis is the only way they are brought to light (and life).
In the New Year, may you be courageous enough to chase your wildest dream and engage in you personal growth to keep faulty belief systems in check.
Happy New Year!