New Year’s Resolutions from the Couch

Here we are, New Year’s Eve, and many of us find ourselves contemplating our New Year’s resolutions. It’s a good time to take stock of where we have been and where we want to go. Tonight we indulge in the last sugar/alcohol/cigarettes of 2014 while making plans to head out to the gym tomorrow after the Polar Bear Swim. We may be setting goals for being more organized, spending time with friends and family or learning to play the guitar. Teens and university students may be deciding to study differently, while others are setting concrete financial goals.

Whether or not we are successful in the realms of family, friends, work, hobbies or health, our enjoyment of life is more a reflection of our internal well-being. And so it is the internal world to which I turn if I want to make changes. It is the inner work that matters if I want to make lasting change on the outside.

But how do you set inner goals? How do you set a personal development action plan? How do you track and measure the quiet progress of inner growth?

Last year, at about this time, I signed up for Leah Serna and Kim Howden’s WAVE course on creating a vision board. We started by painting one word in giant letters across the entire canvas. This power word underlay all that we were taking on. I was into my third week of the six sessions when I realized that each of my dreams was coming true. Every commitment to myself was bearing fruit.

I get that energy flows to where our attention goes. I get that if I focus on something, I am more likely to put in the necessary effort and so more likely to see results. I just didn’t expect it all to come so fast.

And I attribute it to my inner goal setting, my inner New Year’s Resolution.

My power word for 2014 was Generosity. On a daily basis, I just tried to be generous. Whether it was in my work or in my home, with people I was meeting for the first time or with my 86-year-old mother, I reached further and deeper than I would have a few years ago. And I expanded my use of the word to include being generous with paint, with food, with time, with gratitude, with smiles, with touch. I look for ways to be generous. I am generous with myself when I look in the mirror.

And more than ever, I notice the incredible generosity of those around me. This past week, I witnessed the generosity of Shasta Martinuk as she invited people into her Song Circle with what can only be described as love. I saw Reverend Shelagh MacKinnon wholeheartedly extend her arms to those seeking community and peace. I heard Colleen O’Neill, Maureen Whitney, and Maureen Mackey speak of how they could once again support lonely people through the Caring Circle. The Food Bank was filled for the holidays through the generosity of Bowen Islanders. Volunteers kept our streets safe and saved lives by driving home those who had been having fun at the pub. The lights in the Cove, the music, the smiles and the hugs – I see generosity everywhere, and it is a beautiful thing.

For New Year’s, I encourage you to shift your goal setting so that it matches what you really crave. Take on your own power word, your own inner challenge to which you want to commit. Where is it that you really want to expand? What do you want to invite into your life? Do you want more joy? More connection? More peace? Do you want to have a sense of belonging? For what do you want to be known, if only to yourself? Courage? Kindness? Optimism?

Setting up an action plan can take some creativity when it comes to inner work. First, you want to focus on your goal on a daily basis. Whether you draw it, write it or sing it, you want to remind yourself of your commitment. Then read about it, contemplate it and practice it. Be aware of your moment-to-moment choices. At the end of each day, take time to reflect. What is it you are grateful for? What is it you needed to learn?
There are many ways to track your inner progress. If you like to write, use a journal. Keep track of three things a day that match what you are striving for. Write down small successes. As well, journals are a great place to explore feelings and thoughts surrounding your goal. What inner changes are taking place? How is it all playing out in your life?

Take the opportunity at dinner to say grace – it is a beautiful thing to hold hands, to find that still place inside and to reflect on what we are grateful for. Focus on the good that surrounds you.

Your inner change will be mirrored in the people around you. You will see yourself reflected in their eyes. Your relationships will deepen as your inner world shifts. Acknowledge your own progress and smile at yourself in the mirror.

This year, I have a new power word, a new inner growth challenge for my New Year’s Resolution. I am taking it on and ready to start. If you see me in the street, stop me and share your word with me. (I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours…) We can start an inner growth resolution revolution for 2015. Happy New Year!

Dr. Carolyn Nesbitt can be found at

See original article here (published by permission of the Bowen Island Undercurrent):