It Starts With One Big Idea
The start of a new year is full of possibility and good intentions. We feel excited, set goals and anticipate the best year ever!
Then, as it always does, life starts getting in the way. You can’t juggle everything and your health, fitness, nutrition or whatever you were working on is pushed aside.
A few months later you might not even remember what your goals were and a year later, you are in the same place. Or things may have even got worse.
Sounds familiar – right?
I’ve been thinking about this cycle of unmet goals and dreams and how to have a better year than the previous. It got me thinking about why we even set goals.
A desire for personal development is behind every goal we set for ourselves – we want to become a better version of ourselves. But, we usually fall short of our new year intentions. We lose focus and motivation as the year gets going and we fall back into our usual patterns.
So…I think we’d be better off simplifying things.
What if – instead of setting all these resolutions and goals – you simply picked one word or phrase, we’ll call it an “idea”, as a guide for your year and where you want to go? Choose one idea to focus on that will help you become that better version of yourself.
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” Swami Vivekananda (Wandering monk)
Not sure what that means? Here’s how this has worked in my life.
The Power Of Focus
In my early 30s I went through a painful breakup with someone I had lived with for three years. Not only did I have to start over but I found myself living in a city I hadn’t chosen, in New Zealand far away from my family, working for my ex and with terrible self esteem. There was a whole lot of other things going on that I won’t post here, including some health problems, but let’s just say it was one of the lowest periods of my life. I don’t like sharing these photos because they reflect the sadness I felt at that time, but I want you to be able to compare them to photos a year later.
I had no idea where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do with my life but I wasn’t in the right mental state to set goals for myself. One day flipping through some magazines, I found an advertisement that was captioned “You are stronger than you think.” I cut out the words and put them into a clear pocket in my wallet so that every time I opened it, I could see those words.
One thing I knew for sure, is that I needed to work on my self belief so this idea of strength and believing in myself became my focus or my “big idea”.
From that point on, my decisions and actions started to reflect this belief and to take me in the direction of getting stronger. I started to change what I ate, watched and read. However, I knew I needed even more help so I sought ways to get out of my comfort zone.
My self confidence had really taken a beating and I needed someone to help build me back up. I hired a personal trainer who lived for the gym and bodybuilding. He was intimidating for someone like me at that point, but he was exactly what I needed. He taught me how to build muscle but, even more importantly, he helped me develop inner strength and believe in myself again.
I also booked a trip to Mexico and traveled to places off the beaten track where English was not readily spoken. I wanted to see how I could handle roughing it for a while and being somewhere that challenged my language skills. There’s nothing like the road less traveled (especially during mosquito season) to make you grow quickly as a person.
A year later this is how my life looked.
How To Find Your Big Idea
You might already know what you want to focus on but, if not, here’s how to figure it out.
First, identify your weakest link. Your weakest link is the area that presents your biggest challenge to achieving your goals. For example, if you want to lose weight and you love working out but don’t eat well, nutrition should be your focus.
Then choose a word or phrase that will help you make better choices through the year. For example, if you need to eat better, choose a word like Nourish. Put it on your fridge, on your computer or in your car (or all three!). Seeing it multiple times through your day will help you make better decisions when shopping for food, eating out and preparing meals. It may even spin off into other areas of your life like deciding to get more sleep and spending more time with friends who inspire and support you.
As another example, if you want to work on self confidence, you could use words like “Be brave”, “Speak kindly to myself” or, like I did, “You are stronger than you think”.
The most important thing is to find something that resonates with you. That’s going to remind you each and every time you see it how much you want this in your life.
Put It Into Action
You might be wondering how setting goals fits in. I still set goals but I like the idea of choosing one big idea that guides my year. I know, by doing so, I will grow in ways that support me in achieving all those other goals. So by all means, set goals but I encourage you spend some time coming up with your one big idea that you want to focus on this year.
Once you’ve found your big idea, make sure you’ve got your word (phrase or quote) someplace where you will see it many times a day or maybe even in a few different places. If you don’t see it everyday, you’ll lose focus and forget about it.
Then, just like when you set goals, some action is required. Here are some things you can ask yourself:
- Do you need help from anyone? Do you need a coach?
- Do you need to do some food shopping?
- What other things do you need to acquire that will make things easier for you? (ie. kitchen appliances, gym clothes, a cooler to carry lunches).
- Do you need to make some changes to your house or office?
I also like the idea of cleaning up your social media news feeds. If you currently follow people who don’t embody your big idea, unfollow them. Often we follow other women who think are motivating but in reality these women are putting out a lot of misinformation, promoting quick fixes and using photoshopped photos which leave us feeling confused, frustrated and bad about ourselves. Unfollow them. It’s good for your brain. Only follow people who embody your “big idea.”
It’s tempting to try to do way more than necessary but I know if you just focus on one thing you will get so much better results. Remember, as the quote at the beginning of this article says, “Be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”
Even when life starts getting crazy, which it always does, your big idea will guide you to make the right choices, to grow as a person and to have an awesome year!