Before you make another bunch of SMART goals and resolutions you’ll use later to beat on yourself for not achieving— take 45 minutes and knock out these two exercises.
I’ve noticed a massive difference between making goals from my head, and creating marching orders I feel viscerally all throughout my heart and body.
More than anything, this is what I want for you.
We’re facing a year and decade of more unprecedented change. It’s time to tap into our hearts and souls, and unleash who we were meant to become.
Are you ready to give it a shot?
The first is a list to reflect on the past 10 years. You can then use it to establish a theme for this upcoming year (and of course your goals to support it.)
The second is a priming exercise to amplify your gratitude. It’s a force multiplier of past success, and also breathes grace into what is already working in our lives.
I’ll share an example of the video I created, and use every evening before bed. It’s a slideshow video of all the relationships that matter most to me, the dream-work I get to do, and all the big and little things I’m grateful for.
My promise to you is that if you take the time to do this, you’ll deepen your connection to your heart, your Mighty Soul, and to whatever Divine Source put you here to carry out your mission.
The Importance of Priming Our Thoughts
The mind produces thoughts the same way the heart beats. The difference, is the heart is sustaining us while the mind only thinks it is.
The vast majority of thoughts even the best minds think are useless garbage. Of the thousands of thoughts we think each day, as many as 80% can be negative, and 95% are repetitive.
In designing your day for maximum impact, you are well-advised to include a priming exercise.
You’ve likely heard the phrase priming the pump.
Priming is any practice that boosts your mental and emotional energy. It conditions your mind and emotions for success. If we don’t own this process, we leave our mental and emotional states vulnerable to the influence of marketers who hammer our pain points, or 24-hour news cycles that bombard us with negativity.
We also fall into the negativity bias of others— gossip, worry, and angst.
To design and live life on our terms, we need to become obsessed with priming. The happiest, most “high-flow” people turn the majority of every day into a priming exercise.
A paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40% of the actions people perform each day weren’t actual decisions, but rituals and habits.
Research also shows that making decisions is what depletes us most throughout the day.
In our Mindset Tools resource, I’ve written more extensively about Olympian Michael Phelps—the most decorated athlete in Olympics history.
By the time Michael leaps from the blocks into the pool, he’s not only completely focused on the task at hand. In his mind, he has already won the race.
Phelps is the case study for power of priming.
The Decade of Reflection
How often do we create goals based on how we’re feeling this week, versus looking back the longer arc of events, lessons, and accomplishments that got us here?
A client and This Epic Circle member Amanda brought this decade process to our group. It’s a simple recap of the last 10 years, culminating on the year we’re heading into.
Getting it Done: 15-30 Minutes
- List out each of the last 10 years, and give each of them a title or theme.
- Briefly jot down what each year was about, and note any truly significant events or lessons.
- Where were you, and what were you passionate about that year?
- What were the major wins / losses? Who were your closest mentors, teachers, or allies?
I love The Decade Reflection for a few reasons, and found it to be really powerful once I took 25 minutes to sit and write it out.
- I believe every year is preparing us, and refining us to step forward more. I often ask coaching clients “What have the last 2 years prepared you to take on this year?” or, “What have you learned recently that will serve you well in the coming year?”
- Seeing previous years by themes is powerful. Looking back at a year from a high-level helps presence you to themes you not have been aware of at the time. What if there’s a Divine Plan unfolding for you that’s better than anything you could’ve worked out on paper?
- It creates self-compassion. We’re typically hard on ourselves for anything we don’t get to, and tend to over-identify with our accomplishments.
This process softened the “report card” and refocuses us on our long game. Zig Ziglar said we greatly overestimate what we can accomplish in a year, while we greatly underestimate what we can accomplish in 5, or 10.
I had ZERO strategy for how I would bring about the significant changes and evolution in my career. But now in looking back, I’m grateful for all of it— including the face-palming failures and losses.
For Silicon Valley executive coach Katia Verresen, priming is essential to shifting gears during chaotic days. She coaches and counsels founders and top execs at AirBnb, Twitter, and Stanford University.
“You’re not going to build a billion dollar business on a string of bad days”.
Between segments of a given day that may require vastly different types of energy, Verresen recommends priming as a means of transitioning from type of energy to the next.
She coaches her clients to set up their phones with ‘power boards’, consisting of photos of past peak experiences and victories.
It can be taking 5 minutes to look at photos that make you happy.”
Reviewing photos of past wins gives her clients a much-needed mental break, and also “…shifts their energy in the right direction. Your body usually knows first what’s happening, so use it as an antenna.”
Does your body know what’s happening first? It may be easier to feel the side effects of stress as tension in the neck, but when do our
Noticing the subtle sensations in our bodies as a response to emotions and intuitive guidance may be new territory for some readers.
For others, what used to be considered “soft skills” or straight-up voodoo has become a vital navigational tool.
In our This Epic Circle Mastermind, we practice the “Whole Body YES!” I’ve found this to be crucial lately, as I’m flooded with more opportunities. It’s stressful to over-commit while neglecting our most sacred work.
When the need to make high-stakes decisions is part of every work day, we need to build in ways to replenish ourselves, and know we’re approaching a new decision from as clear a mind as possible.
Steve Jobs took some of his deepest thinking and conversations to the trails behind his office. Walking outside in the fresh air created the space he needed to approach big decisions, or tough conversations from a new perspective. Although this ritual may have evolved into habit, it began as a highly intentional way to maximize his energy throughout the day.
“If your attitude literally dictates the information your eyes are able to see (or what your mind thinks they see), then you have to prime your mental state to see more — it’s just as important as flossing,”
Sleeping right, eating well and exercising are part of priming, of course, but here’s a fierce little adaptation on Verresen’s process…
Gratitude Video Jolt
Smartphones make this exercise incredibly simple. Multimedia can also be extremely immersive.
I still love having vision boards around, and surrounding myself with photos that remind me what my motivations are— or really, who my motivators are. But there’s a different power that comes from video, and music.
On the iPhone, it’s very easy to organize photos into a specific folder.
Getting it Done: 15 Minutes
- Go through your main photos folder (as well as Instagram if your phone saves them into a subfolder).
- Select those photos that remind you how much you love your life. The people you’re with, the exotic locations, and especially any photos of you performing at your best.
- Copy them into their own folder and label it “GRATITUDE”.
- iPhone makes it simple to play this folder as a slideshow with music, but you can also edit it further.
- Select a song from your music library that inspires you. Play with the length of the video as well and find a pace that works for you.
- Watch it once a day, ideally with headphones on. Really try to immerse yourself in how awesome your life already it.
- Before bedtime is a great day to refill your heart a bit, after a long day. Set some intentions for the next morning from this place of gratitude.
- You can support this process further using the 5 Minute Journal, or another similar journaling process.
How are these working for you?
I’d love to see what you’ve created. You can tag me on social media, or share them in This Epic Life’s Facebook page.
Please also share any thoughts or questions below!