With the close of 2015, it is a natural time to reflect on the past year the good, the bad and everything in-between. I really enjoy this transitional period and the opportunity to take stock in the previous year and what I hope to see in my life in the year to come.

I have learned if I don’t put some intention into what I want in my life, well, nothing changes. But, if I take some time to get clear on where I want to go in the year to come and put that intention out into the universe, then somehow, some way, the intention actually happens.

But, I can get carried away. I am no stranger to FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) or ‘Shiny New Object Syndrome’ or the dreaded ‘should’. Those things are there just to distract me and derail me. It’s kinda like loading up your plate on Thanksgiving only to find about half way through that you are ridiculously full and there is no way you can eat the pumpkin pie. And who wants to miss the pie?!

How often do we do this to ourselves? We set out with certain intentions to take better care of ourselves in the New Year and then self-sabotage ourselves by also signing up for numerous other activities and obligations. They all may be well-meaning activities, but too many is too many. Soon the quest for healthy breakfasts and regular walks go out the window just because ‘there is no time.’

We are only short-changing ourselves.

Doing it all doesn’t bring the results we want. Getting really clear on what we do want, does.

Finally, last year I went outside the box for me, I began ‘trimming’ my to-do’s. Relinquishing some activities was hard. Really hard. But, it gave me space to focus on my most important goals. Instead of feeling frantic and uncertain of how to get all of my to-do’s done each week, I was able to make a plan and follow through on it. This was an incredible revelation for me.

In order to actually reach my goals I MUST MAKE SPACE for them.

This has meant saying No.

But, here is the unexpected benefit of saying ‘no’. It has also meant I have had time to have tea with friends. Lucy (our Schnauzer) and I have had regular walks. I have had time to get outdoors with my family and make a weekly date with my preschooler. And, in my work-life, I have felt more centered, steady and passionate than before. Saying ‘no’ has allowed me to have a much more ‘full’ life and ultimately, much happier.

Now, this isn’t to say that I haven’t had long days or overloaded weekends. I still have. But, getting clear on my most important goals has allowed me to make the hard decisions to cut away activities that don’t support my goals. This act has meant my self-care goals have stayed firmly on the list as opposed to getting crossed off due to lack of time.

Saying no instead of an automatic yes has been revolutionary.

Most resolutions whether at the New Year or another time in the year, only last a few weeks. Instead of staying focused on our goals, we fill up our plates and forget to schedule in ourselves and the time to actually do the self-care acts.

In order to keep self-care a priority, it is imperative to get really clear on your goals and intentions. Once you are clear and are able to have that vision of your future self, it is much easier to keep your goals. Here are a couple of methods I use to get really focused on what I want to bring into my life in the year ahead:

  1. Journal – I started using a tool by Leonie Dawson last year and found it helpful to find clarity on what I wanted in my life and I loved the monthly check-ins to track my progress. I recently received my books for 2016 (she has expanded them significantly for this year) and have enjoyed taking the time to become even more clear on the year ahead.
  1. Create a Life Board – This has been another fun activity to do at the end of the year as you contemplate the coming year. Cut out words and pictures of images and thoughts that you want to bring into your life and paste it onto poster board. I then hang mine in my bathroom so I see it every day. This year, my daughter has been joining me on this activity too and making her own life board. That has also been really insightful to see!

In 2016, I still have plenty of goals and intentions for the year ahead, but my big over-arching goal is to ‘pause first’ before jumping into another obligation, another course, another ‘fill-in-the-blank’.

Before jumping to an automatic ‘yes’, take a moment to ask if this new obligation or task is in line with your goals and/or intentions for the year. Instead of allowing yourself to get scattered and spread thin, stay focused on what you allow into your life and what you pursue. It is with a clear intention that you will actually be able to reach those lofty goals.

Here’s to 2016 and ‘doing less’.