Setting an Intent that Works

Are you ready to conquer your goals for 2024? That’s what most of us aim for. Crushing our goals. Overcoming our challenges. Taming our wild selves into submission.

I decided, for 2024, I am taking a new approach to goals. Instead of cooking up ways to get me to do something I don’t want to do, I am going to march into 2024 by counting all the times I do an activity that brings me good feelings. Like joy, fun, and peace. I decided that instead of keeping track of how far I was away from my Big Goals, I was going to keep track of the progress I made, no matter how small. I decided that I was going to retrain my brain to trust myself again.

Counting the moments where you feel good is an exercise of thought work. The first step is to begin a practice of noticing every time you experience a positive emotion. Contentment. Excitement. Satisfaction. Once you notice, then you turn your attention to whatever it was that caused the emotion. A thought. An action. A belief. Whatever the cause, note it.

The first step is to begin a practice of noticing every time you experience a positive emotion.

This method of re-seeing your day is a powerful brain hack. As you lean into this new habit, you accomplish a lot:

  • You begin to prolong the moments of good feelings.
  • You begin to learn what thoughts and what actions create good feelings for you.
  • You begin to look for positive emotions instead of negative emotions.
  • You grow your experience of good feelings.
  • You learn to pay attention when life is going well for you, rather than when things feel off.
  • You are more aware of your thinking, which makes it easier to change your thinking.
  • It creates powerful associations between good feelings and the cause of them.

All that from a goal to capture the moments where I feel good.

If you have a goal that feels hard or unattainable, consider a radical approach of letting go of that goal, so that you can retrain your brain to notice every moment where you feel good. Your best path forward will always feel good to you, so flex your noticing muscle so that you are better able to see your path when it appears before you.

New years cause us all to reflect on what is missing from our lives. That’s normal. After that reflection, give equal or more time to all you have accomplished this past year and watch your mood lighten. Give equal or more attention to any time you felt good this past year, and unlock the secret to your own happiness as you examine the thoughts and actions that led to your greatest successes.

Then, with all that positive energy from last year, turn your attention to 2024 and say, I want a better 2024 than 2023. To accomplish this, I will notice and savor any moment of good feelings.

Here are mine so far today.

  • Really enjoyed hot coffee on this chilly morning. The aroma alone made me happy.
  • Seeing the detritus from Christmas reminded me that we had a really nice holiday.
  • Seeing things that need to be put away reminded me that I have a home that is ready to accommodate new things.
  • Knowing I have a gift to exchange got me excited for what new thing I could pick out.
  • Knowing I was off work today gave me a jolt of happiness for a day away.

Where can you begin to turn your attention to a moment of feeling good? What could you learn about yourself as you excavate the cause of your good feelings? Where can you use your super power (your attention) to prolong the moments of good feelings?

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