Get Real Resolutions: Create YOUR 2021 Story

Craft Your Story, Watch Your Intentions Come to Life

Image of digital storyboard for Jason Daley Kennedy’s “Create Your 2021 Story” by Roberto Nickson, Unsplash
Image by Roberto Nickson, Unsplash

This year, the resolution conversation on the social stratosphere is packed, as it is every year around this time. What’s different this year is the conversation also includes an uptick on the “don’t make a resolution” side, people who say — rightfully — making it through is good enough resolution. This is especially important at a time when being alive is a gift more than the start of any other year we’ve seen. I’ve decided to take a slightly more aggressive approach to start off my year. Instead of either not making a list of resolutions, rather creating a list of expectations I’m placing on myself, I’ve decided to create the story of my year. A story which — regardless of the curveballs, pandemics, highs, lows, and days of complete and utter emotional freezing- I will write every day. The process below is how I’m allowing my story of 2021 to be told.

Like many of you, I once hated the idea of New Years Resolutions. We see as many people either apologetically committing to something because the calendar has switched as we do judgmental bitches telling us not to bother even making resolutions, because we’ll never achieve them. I’ll never forget laying in a packed yoga class at Equinox in West Hollywood 5 or 6 January’s ago. After the annoyed — and annoying — teacher mentioned for the 7th to 8th time how many of us wouldn’t be there next week, repeatedly reiterating the class was only crowded because of New Years Resolutions, I loudly excused myself from the dimly lit studio. Perhaps they thought I proved their point right, and really who cares: I just knew that year I was avoiding toxicity, and I was grateful my first test came from a guru-esque figure.

Admittedly, the beginning of a new year does bring about a sense of hope that we will make things different, right, or better than they were the year before. This is as energetic as it is historical, dating way back to pre-Ceasar times. According to Wonderopolis:

“The tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates all the way back to 153 B.C. January is named after Janus, a mythical god of early Rome. Janus had two faces — one looking forward, one looking backward. This allowed him to look back on the past and forward toward the future.”

I know a few two-faced people who could benefit from sticking to New Years Resolutions, HBU?

Anyway, this tradition some millennia in the making has stuck, and just like old JANUS, I am choosing to use the beginning of this year as the perfect time to craft my story. The story that can only be told after fully reflecting on what’s passed, then looking ahead to write my story.

Here are the 7 Steps I am Using to Create My Story of 2021

  1. REFLECT:
    Before jumping into what we want to achieve in the year ahead, it’s important to look at both what worked and what didn’t in the year prior. And of course, looking at the year 2020 will require some softer lenses. If you look at the fact that you gained weight as a negative, instead of as a coping mechanism, you’re likely going to have a real hard time moving past this step. Take a look at all of the falters of 2020 through a lens of forgiveness. In fact, it might be helpful to run this list past your accountability partner (step 5), to help gain some clarity and let yourself off the hook.
    After all, this is an inventory to see what’s working and what’s not and not a trial where you’re guilty until proven innocent. It’s equally important to write down what DID work in 2020. Perhaps you strengthened a relationship, realized you COULD be alone, or found out you don’t really need to go out as much as you thought you did. Whatever your list is, try to make sure you have a positive for any negative.
  2. CLEAN IT UP
    NOTE:
    This is the most detail oriented, but not the most time-consuming, step. As shared in step 1, your story of 2021 is in large part an inventory to see what’s working and what’s not. It is not a trial where you’re guilty until proven innocent; so it is equally important to write down what DID work in 2020. Perhaps you strengthened a relationship, realized you COULD be alone, or found out you don’t really need to go out as much as you thought you did. Whatever your list is, try to make sure you have a positive for any negative.
    Make it right or let it go: The second part of this inventory process is determining if you’ve got amends to make. If there is something glaring here, consider writing a letter or picking up the phone to make a call and clear the air. Even if not well-received, it will help you go into the next step — and the next year — a little more clear-headed.
    And then, after you’ve made said amends, let that shit go. Equally, if someone wronged you, let that go, too. Harboring a resentment towards yourself is going to sink this ship before it gets out of the harbor. That doesn’t mean you need to get back on board with the same person/people that hurt you, it just means you’re not letting their actions hold you down.
  3. VISION: SET YOUR COURSE:
    Vision boards and writing out the goals you’d like to create for the year ahead is vital to reaching what you set out to achieve. Think of it as your TV show, before it can go to air, it has to be filmed, before it can be filmed, there has to be a rehearsal. Before the rehearsal, the stage has to be set. Before the stage can be set, there has to be a storyboard created, one where everyone from the director to the production designer, the costumer to the set decorator, the gaffer to the actor can see what’s going to take place.
    This years’ vision board is really very similar: in order to attract the story I want to achieve, I put it on the vision board. Personally, I create my vision board in categories, on a spreadsheet tool like Google Slides or Keynote. Create the categories where you invite in change and see the positive, biggest, most abundant version of that. Clip the pics and paste them into the column to which it relates. I write out words that make the vision crystallize and the pictures help it come to life. Then, I visit it every-so-often so as to not suffocate the vision, but let it breathe, while not completely ignoring it. Also, write it out. Grab a journal and put pen to paper, describing the year ahead. Script your story, see your story, and let your story of 2021 be told.
  4. CHANGE YOUR CHOICE OF WORDS:
    One of my favorite aspects of neuro-linguistics programming (NLP), the coaching I’m certified in, is to change the way we talk to ourselves and about ourselves in order to change the way we think of ourselves. So it’s incredibly important to come from a place of vision or abundance versus coming from a place of lack or less-than. For example, this year, I intend to be healthier, therefore I won’t say “I’m resolving to lose weight” and instead will commit to “eating clean, balanced, and exercising to fulfill the vision of my body”. This can be applied to relationships, money, the job, or the house you want to get or keep.
    Each time you make a new choice that is in alignment with your future, you are priming your brain to install the neurological hardware to actually think, act and feel like the person you want to be in your future.”
    -
    Dr. Joe Dispenza
  5. CLARITY IS KEY:
    Adding clarity to your intentions, especially when it comes to specifics, is key. Going back to the health in step 4, it would be even more beneficial to add in something like “I will achieve reaching a 10% Body Fat Percentage by June of this year and will maintain that throughout the year by continuing to eat mindfully, sleep, exercise, practice self-love and compassion for others”. The idea here is to remove yourself from judgment while simultaneously working to have numbers to hit.
  6. BUILD ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERSHIPS:
    Find a friend, or take your romantic partnership to the next level with this tool. An accountability partner must be someone you feel you can trust, but it doesn’t need to be someone you know really well. You will eventually be able to speak freely with your accountability partner. Equally, it’s ideal to choose someone whom you respect enough to want to hold yourself accountable. It is important you lay out ground rules first, things like only speaking in the positive, giving each other permission to call each other out on your bullshit, and committing to weekly check-ins (or daily). Make the partnership attainable, and respect it. While it may be uncomfortable at times, sticking with the partnership throughout the year will help you to achieve a sense of accomplishment and will simultaneously give you the opportunity to be of service.
  7. SCHEDULE CHECK-INS:
    In addition to the accountability partner, check-in with yourself each week. Writing down the vision for your life and going back periodically to check on it will allow you to evaluate what’s working and what needs a pivot without scrapping the whole plan or beating yourself up mercilessly for failing to achieve something. Of course, one of the most important ways to check-in is to meditate, so make a commitment to sit weekly and reflect on what worked that week and what you want to invite in for the week ahead, and then meditate on it. And this year more than ever, these check-ups will help you to get back to your story when you’ve taken time to hibernate/restore/hide/eat and cry under a blanket on your couch for a couple of days.

I have used these tools most every late-December and early-January, and they work, as long as I do the work to pay attention to them and keep up with the accountability check-ins. What I’ve added this year is the framework of telling the story of my life this year, and I’m excited for you to try it out with me. So please, share how you’re progressing, and if any questions or roadblocks come up for you, let me know.

Finally, please keep this front of your awareness: come to the moment with the self-aware, and leave the self-judgment behind. Taking stock of ourselves is important, but using it as a knife to cut ourselves with isn’t helpful to anyone.

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Jason Daley Kennedy

Jason Daley Kennedy

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Wellness Host, Speaker & Coach focusing on realistic meditation & self-care practices. Author/Founder: Meditation for Assholes.