How are you BE-ing Today?
It’s the season of resolutions! But before you start whipping yourself into a fury of activity, it’s helpful to think about the two different kinds of goals: Being and Doing.
Doing goals are usually our default: I will exercise for 30 minutes four times a week. They’re concrete strategies, frequently designed to get to a larger Doing goal (losing 20 pounds, getting cholesterol under 200, etc.). They are the reason for all those slogans about sweating and discipline.
Being goals, on the other hand, are usually an inner affair, but they frequently precede an effective Doing goal. I want to feel comfortable exercising in front of other people might be the Being goal of someone who wants, eventually, to have success in the Doing goal of attending a Zumba class.
Being goals are related to mindset and attitude, and they’re often the key to unlocking true motivation and excitement in the journey to be healthier. They can clear away barriers related to conscious or unconscious ideas we have about healthy behaviors (only dumb jocks exercise hard; I need to drink for people to like me at parties), and they make room for a long-term outlook that supports wellness. Most importantly, they help us be the people we want to be — eliminating fear or prejudice in our minds, or deeply imbedded thoughts we might be carrying from childhood that aren’t useful anymore, or are even detrimental (you’re not a good boy if you don’t eat it ALL).
Finding and crafting Being Goals can be a tricky business, but it’s rewarding. Awareness alone leads many folks to their completion. Here are some tips for being open to the invisible, psychological goals that help us be better so we can ultimately do better.
Connect to Your Values. Being goals frequently start with attributes we find critical to being good people. Many people balk at values-identification as a vague or hard-to-pin down exercise, but consider the following list: kindness, obedience, joy, discipline, piety, and creativity. Chances are two of those speak to you more strongly than the rest, just as a different two would speak more strongly to someone else. Online value lists are abundant to give you a nudge, but we’ve all had moments too of doing something unthinkingly and immediately realizing how we want to change a state of Being. Catch yourself telling your eight year-old to shut up, or insulting a co-worker behind her back and you may find yourself appalled and thinking, What am I doing? This is not who I want to BE. From the motivating force of knowing we’re NOT living our values, some Being goals might appear — to have more patience with family, for example.
Practice Mindfulness. A trendy word these days, the benefits of mindfulness transcend its overuse. Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of what’s happening in the present moment. When we’re mindful, our head isn’t full of the list of things we haven’t done yet. It’s not only easier to be happy, but also to be aware and gain valuable information about our emotional state. Meditation, even short infrequent sessions, improve mindfulness as do exercises like taking a moment here and there throughout your day to stop what you’re doing and check in with yourself. What do I feel right now? Is there pain in my body or heart? How am I being today? Spending time in nature is also a helpful tool for mindfulness. Focusing on trees, the sky, or other familiar, timeless, and always different and lovely phenomena allows us to be mindful of the world as it is right now.
Power Down. For everything, turn, turn there is a season — except technology. If you let it, it’s there all the time, calling your name and pulling on your arm every three seconds. In a state of constant availability and response, it’s hard to turn inward. Technology is arguably the single largest pusher of non-stop Doing in the world today, and it can overpower everything else. Separate from your devices on a regularly scheduled basis.