Updated: Jan 8, 2022
Ah January, a new year.
Surrounded by encouragement to set goals and make changes to our lives.
Our wintery months have invited reflection and as a new year begins you may have found yourself considering concepts like "where am I now" and "what do I want to make of 2022".
I am all for goals, tangible actions and meaningful changes. Improving your health and happiness. Making the most of life (After all I am a coach).
But I have to admit, I find it a little amusing that, while many of us fluster and falter at the New Year, New You goals and resolutions . Most of nature remains hunkered down. Unearthed. Resting and re-cooperating for the year a head.
So I wanted to consider two things in this blog today.
For those of you, enthused by a new year productivity and motivations. I invite you to be inspired by nature in your goal setting for 2022. And I'll share some ideas on how to do that.
I'll also share some ideas of how nature can help those of you, whose true goal for 2022 is to make space, slow the pace. Simplify life and reduce the over-whelm of a busy life.
When setting goals, its easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself.
(Particularly if a goal requires some "practice" or "fine tuning" or is - or perhaps more fiction than action).
A kinder way to ease yourself into these prospects might be to explore your goals through the frame of Intentions and Aims.
Intentions give you an opportunity to explore your desired changes. Make them realistic. Clear and concise. (The actions and behaviours).
Aims helps you explore the destination, your landing spot. Where you will be when you get there? (The outcome)
When you explore these aims and intentions it can help, mind and body, to consider the outcomes you want rather than those you don't.
Too often we will say " I don't want to be this busy" or " I hate feeling this way". Missing the opportunity to help our brain find a clearer pathway to that spot on our "map".
When you establish these aims and intentions identify what you want to do, not what you don't.
My intention is to spend quality time with my family.
My aim is to be finished with work by 5pm
My intention is to be kinder to myself this year.
I aim to do more exercise to support my body and mind.
When setting your aims and intentions, its easy to over-look your 'inner system's' response to this.
Think of a tree for a moment. It's core aim is to be a thriving version of itself, aware that its choices, and the choices of those plants and trees around influence self, community and networks.
For every choice and change that tree makes, there is a mechanism of feedback. An evaluation of it's strategy. And the opportunity to adjust. Through an awareness to "check in" and actively listen and hear it's own needs.
As humans, we will often be unattuned to the thoughts and feelings that go with our initial goals and changes. And I invite you to really explore this, if making aims and intentions this year.
Ask yourself. An awareness in your inner system can be vitally valuable in creating a happy/healthy life.
Ask yourself questions like:
When I establish this aim/intention how do I feel?
What are my initial thoughts?
What about when I envisage reaching these goals?
What can I "fine tune" to make these intentions and aims of greater value and importance to myself?
Look for this feedback and sensing throughout your progress too. This will help you to maintain momentum. Or "tweak" it.
Going out into nature, as a place to set your goals, can be immensely helpful and you may even find it a deeply moving experience to gift yourself this time and peace of mind there in the woods, a park or by a river. Not only does this time, with nature, help you to be more relaxed and creative. But you might be inspired to expand your perspectives too.
There are a few other things you can do, through observing and learning from nature. Here are three ways you can invite nature into your aims and intentions.
Natures metaphors - nature is abundant with metaphors that permeate our language.
When thinking about your aims and intentions. You may find you also have to focus on the problem or issue ( after all you need to know where you are, so you can better explore where you want to be).
Nature can offer profound metaphors for our problems and our solutions. Ask yourself "What's it like?"
Whether you explore an idiom/metaphor (e.g. I can't see the wood for the trees/ I need to be better rooted) or actually observe something within nature that represents your issue//solution ( e.g that gnarly fallen down tree looks just how I feel/ I want to be as grounded as this mighty oak!)
( Photo Asmi Pai Unsplash)
Noticing Natures Patterns - noticing patterns in nature can really help to consider an "approach" for your aims and intension. Look to nature and see what patterns it forms to enhance it's structure and progress. From roots and branches stretching out to new resources. Or mesh and webs that strengthen structures and actions.
When I began exploring nature relatedness and biomimicry (applying nature concepts to life) I began to see the common "spiral" in a different way. In life we might think about 'spiralling' representing chaos, getting to a point of being "stuck" and suddenly here I was with a simple strategy to support "fine tuning" in my aims and intentions. Simply to choose to spiral out in another direction, learning either from what I had done to "get stuck or make chaos" or spiralling into a different space and strategy entirely to have totally new options or perspectives.
Perspectives - 'Seeing the bigger picture, then the detail': This is one of the Natural Principles from Sarah Spence'rs, Think Like a Tree and a great one for considering your aims and intentions. Natural Principles provide concepts, or pre-suppositions inspired by nature, that we can apply to our own lives too.
In the natural world the plants, animals are constantly shifting there perspectives. As part of a wider ecosystem and as individual beings. Adapting, adjusting and refining strategies that work best for their intentions and purpose and responding to change proactively.
When establishing your aims and intentions it can help to shift perspectives ( think eagle view and worm view) - how do these intentions/aims fit in with your bigger picture? What are the finer details you can pay attention to to ensure these aims and intentions are meaningful, valuable and ultimately successful to enhancing your health and happiness!
A practical experience of this is to go out into nature and look far into the distance and then closer at what's right in front or around you ( or even at close-detail ground level). Consider how you can do the same within your minds-eye too. Explore the horizon of your aims and intentions, then bring yourself into the finer detail of the how, feelings and thoughts that inform your next steps.
Making more space
If all this talk of aims and intentions. Goal setting and action planning give you the shivers. You may be recognising the need to find space.
Making space in life is something that we often forget to do enough of.
Making space isn't just about enhancing your physical environment. But it may start with decluttering, repurposing or reorganising.
Making space is about creating room psychologically too.
As I mentioned at the start. Nature holds great value in the "making space" part of growth and personal development. Your making space might be self-reflection, rest or even letting go and forgiving those intentions that didn't quite make it last year.
Making space invites you to "just be". This could be practiced through mindfulness, meditation, sleep or relaxation. Or something that takes you into the present like squidging bare feet in mud, or a cool stream.
Making space moves away from filling the calendar, or your thoughts, with "stuff".
It may be in the form of saying more "no's" and doing less of something.
If you have ever grown anything, and for me the sowing of wild flowers really resonates as a metaphor for this. First you clear off, prepare the ground, and allow the seeds to settle and sow. With that space, there is space to grow. That initial lull allows over time for a rainbow of flowers to grow.
I find with busy minds and responsibility. Factoring "making space" into your life habits can reap huge benefits in the long term. Better resourced, increased creativity and revived for life.
Maybe 2022 will be a year of aims and intentions. Or a year to make space. Maybe a bit of both.
So as 2022 begins. Look to nature to inspire. Be connected with and part of it. Be kind to self, and kind to your planet.
And know that your actions can change the world!
Source Material includes : Sarah Spencer Natural Principles ( Think Like A Tree).
Oak tree -Unsplash: Timothy Dykes