Alternatively…

If you read last week’s blog on whether or not to set resolutions but are still undecided. Or, you’re still struggling to identify exactly which problem you are trying to fix, I offer some alternative ways to focus your intentions, channel your energy or otherwise manifest the life you want to create in the new year.

Write a manifesto

I first came across this idea when I attended a talk by Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project. The basic idea is that you create and write down your own personal manifesto to guide the way you live your life or, approach a particular situation.

It was the idea to create a manifesto for a specific situation that most appealed to me and so, over the course of the next few weeks, I created my own manifesto to serve as a kind of decision making framework/modus operandi for the first two years I am back in NZ.

The process I went through took some time. I didn’t write a list from start to finish in one sitting, rather as an idea came to me, I’d jot it down for further review. Finally after about a month, I felt that I had let my subconscious bubble away for long enough and sat down to reflect on my notes.

Out of this came my Homecoming Manifesto – a mix of values I want to live, priorities I want to promote and behaviours I want to enact as I traverse the process of repatriation. The intention here is to give myself a framework for making decisions and taking actions while I still have the ability to view things through the big picture lenses of time and distance.

Of course, I have no expectation that having the manifesto will insulate me from the inevitable highs and lows that come from returning to one’s native place. But I do hope that it provides me with a reminder of why I decided to come back and the life I want to lead there, especially in those times when I may feel torn by other’s expectations or overwhelmed by choice.

Create a vision board

There are different theories on why visioning is so effective as a manifesting technique. The more scientifically inclined argue that, by making a public visual commitment to the future we want, we subtly begin to orient all our subconscious effort to making it so.

The more spiritually inclined lean more towards seeing your vision board as a kind of ‘request to the universe’ who can then put her, not inconsiderable energy, into making things happen in an almost magical kind of way.

And then, there are those of us who think it might be a bit of both :-). But regardless of how it happens, there is no disputing the fact that it works. Professional athletes, captains of industry and millions of people worldwide engage in some form of visioning to support their personal and professional endeavours.

While there are not hard and fast rules, the basic process is as such.

Envisage a future you want to create. This could be a general ‘perfect life’ scenario or something more specific e.g. graduating with first class honours, getting that promotion or making an interesting new friend.

Visually depict your intention in some way. Classic approaches include getting a bunch of magazines, some glue and a big piece of cardboard and cutting and pasting images, words, colours and so on that reflect both the specific outcome and the feeling you want to create. You could also do this electronically, cutting and pasting images etc. into a digital board.

Focus on ‘the what’ and not ‘the how’. Crucially, vision boards (as opposed to manifestos) are all about the outcome, not the process by which you achieve a particular goal. Far too often, we talk ourselves out of believing that we can have what we really, really want, because we can’t see the obvious path to get there.

For example, when I first moved to Seattle, I created a vision board for the life I wanted to experience while I was here. Despite it being universally considered a ‘crazy idea’ I really wanted to live both here and in NZ during that time so I included a visual depiction of both cities – the Sky Tower in Auckland and the Seattle Tower – on my board.

A few weeks later, we had a call with my in-laws in NZ who were planning an overseas trip and wondering what we wanted to do about care for our cat, who lives with them at the moment. We bounced around a few ideas until the obvious one presented itself – I would go and live in their house while they were away.

And so that’s what we did. I put the feelers out and picked up some interesting project work in Auckland and my husband easily persuaded his boss to let him work ‘from home’ for part of the time I was there. I joined the local yoga studio and we slipped back into our, eternally patient, social circle and connected again with old friends. All of which made it feel like we were really living in two places for those two years.

Share and forget. The most difficult part of the visioning process for many people is the idea that once you’ve put what you want down on paper you take no further conscious action. Unlike other goal setting frameworks, you don’t then create a detailed plan to achieving your goals. You just create the vision and then let it go.

Some people advocate for the complete destruction of the document with burning it in a sacred ritual being a popular practice – though I have yet to manage this without setting off the fire alarm. Other’s advocate keeping the vision in plain sight, stuck to the fridge or as your screen saver, so you are constantly reminded of what it is you want to achieve. BUT this visual reminder is just to give your eyes something to cast a fleeting glance over, not an invitation to actually do anything to make things happen.

I’ve done both and, in my experience, it doesn’t seem to matter. The important part is the reflection process, the committing to paper visual representations of what you really want and then trusting that your subconscious, the universe or, whatever force you believe in, will make manifest what you intend. If you get to this point and you still don’t know what to do, just let it sit for a few days and then go with your gut.

Pick a word for the year

Another idea I’m currently experimenting with is the notion that we should each consciously pick a word around which we want to anchor our experience of the year. The idea here is that if you distil your focus down to a single word through which you filter all experiences, you gain insight into yourself that will enable you to more effectively channel your energy into creating the life that you want.

So for example, you might decide that your word for the year is ‘honesty’ so you apply that framework to everything you are and everything you do. This might be as simple as giving an honest answer to the barista who asks ‘how are you doing?’ as your order your morning coffee or, as complex and potentially painful as examining the relationships in your life and being honest, with yourself, and others, about which ones are at an end.

Or your word might be intimacy, patience, courage, freedom or something else. Whatever you choose, apply it to everything you do to see what insights you gain and, then use these insights to guide what you do next.

There are lots of online resources to help you find your word. Just google ‘how to find your word of the year’ and take your pick. I took a simpler approach and just planted the idea as a seed to see what word would pop up. For me, this word is ‘depth’ and it’s been very interesting to apply this to everyday situations and see what really lies beneath.

Create your own process

Following someone else’s framework for making resolutions, manifesting or envisaging the future you want to create, can be a useful way to get stuck in without spending too much energy thinking about how to proceed. But, if you’re reading through these ideas and nothing feels quite right, there is no reason you can’t make up your own process which may draw ideas from several different approaches.

So be creative and see what emerges. Because, whatever works for YOU is what works.

Have a magical New Year!

About me

Tricia Alach is a career and life coach & wellbeing professional who specialises in helping busy people create happier, healthier & more fulfilling lives. To learn more about what she offers visit www.flowmindandbody.com or connect via Instagram, facebook, or @triciaalach

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