New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap, and it’s not entirely undeserved...they’re typically restrictive in some way (I will stop doing this thing, or I will only do this thing) and they are often aspirational to the point of perfectionism. The worst offense with a resolution, though, is that they are goals without plans. Goal-setting is admirable, but the “how” needs to be at least as important as the “what.”
2020 threw a wrench -- who are we kidding, it basically chucked the whole toolbox -- in everybody’s lives, so we’re betting you’re putting quite a few eggs in the “2021 has gotta be my year” basket. But before you hop into resolution mode, you might wanna keep reading.
Mindfulness is a powerful thing...and honest reflection is a huge part of mindfulness. Reflecting on what didn’t work -- in our actions, in our thought processes, in our relationships, in our attitudes, in the world around us -- allows us the opportunity to solve for it in the future. If you don’t reflect on what happened or didn’t happen and why, you can’t fix it! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results...so what does the opposite of that look like for you?
AMMA co-founder Satya Twena shared her personal approach to the New Year with us, including how she approaches goal-setting and how unfulfilled intentions can be a golden opportunity in disguise!
1. Do you have any family rituals or traditions to prepare for the upcoming new year?
We set intentions - how we want to show up with kindness and love to ourselves, our family and our communities. This will be our first year where our daughter (almost 4) can participate in thinking of ways she can act with kindness next year.
2. Do you have any specific family rituals/traditions tied to New Year's Eve?
Since my husband Jeffrey was a kid, his dad would make fettuccine “alfreddo”(his name was Fred) every NYE. We’ve carried on the tradition (while sipping champagne!) We used to live in NYC where we would go out afterwards, but these days we're in bed by 10:30 (COVID and, oh yeah, being parents) so we celebrate at 9pm PST (midnight NYC time). We will do a pretend countdown with the kids in our PJs & top hats -- yes, the kids own top hats!
3. How do you plan for the upcoming year business-wise?
I schedule the last 2 weeks of December for business planning. There's peppermint bark (my fave!), hot chocolate and a lot of papers, pens, and a list of questions - for example:
- How can we show up for our AMMA mamas even more in 2021?
- What would be so fun to work on?
- What color Cocoons would excite our community?
This year I will spend about 4 days dreaming up the ideas and then after the dreaming, I will spend about 5 days thinking of the strategy and team that needs to implement the ideas -- we are a team of 3 ½ so thinking of who is responsible for each project takes time. At AMMA we each wear many hats, so we need to plan ahead -- and this year I am making sure we don't have too many last minute projects / ideas (I'm really good at the last minute good ideas 😉)
4. How do you personally plan for a successful upcoming year (whatever success means for you)?
Here is what I do first: I ask questions about what happened and what didn't work, so I can solve for those issues -- otherwise they will continue to show up.
- What happened in 2020 that I wish had gone differently?
- What is a goal I set for 2020 that didn't work?
- What kept me from accomplishing this goal? (this one is super important as it will give you clarity for why it didn’t work; for example, due to COVID I didn't have support at home and I had to spend my time catching up on all the other things, like laundry, cleaning the house, etc...so you recognize that you need support with household and kids in order to accomplish your goal)
- How can i do this differently in 2021 (using the above example, it might be: I need the kids to clean their rooms and help with laundry, or I need to wake up earlier so I can focus on me and my work, etc.)
Here are some goal-specific questions I ask:
- What is 1 thing I want to accomplish next year?
- If money / childcare / work was not an issue - what would I like my day to look like?
- If money / childcare / work was not an issue - What is one thing I would like to work on?
- What is one thing I'd like my kids to learn next year?
Then I think of a plan on how to do this -- for example: if a goal is that I want to be conversational in Spanish by December 2021 (this is true), here's what my plan might look like:
Goal: I want to be conversational in Spanish (I am nowhere close to this FYI; I'm just learning how to conjugate irregular verbs)
What does this goal look like: Speaking to Andrea (our amazing au pair) in Spanish with ease and confidence
What do I need to do to accomplish this within my timeline (work backwards or split the year into 4 quarters and list out everything):
- Research language hacks (Tim Ferriss has a great podcast on this)
- Spend 10 minutes a day on Duolingo
- Ask Andrea to only speak to me and the kids in Spanish
I’ll also put the action items into my calendar to help me stay accountable. For example, I’ll set a calendar alert for 8pm (after kids are in bed) to do 10 min of Duolingo (maybe while brushing my teeth!)
I only set 5 big personal / business goals per quarter...otherwise it’s too much.
5. Do you have any specific reflections on 2020?
This year was challenging. I started off the year getting parvovirus, which kicked my butt (i was depressed for about 4 weeks after a full week of feeling like I was literally dying). Then my new au pair left, then COVID hit. It felt impossible to do the work I needed to do, be grounded with myself, and also be present with the kids and Jeffrey. And yet, somehow we made it out with momentum - I didn't accomplish most of the things I set the intention to last year, but I got so much more out of it...like spending time with my family, not rushing around or travelling for work and I was lucky, because I got to see my mom a lot. Plus the virus I had got me focused on my health and I am ending 2020 feeling like I’ve got a better understanding of my mental and physical health as well as my immunity.
In the end I feel like 2020 was mentally preparing me while also showing me what's possible and how far I'm willing to go.
At AMMA we tried new things (we won some and learned valuable lessons at other times), I learned the extent of the hurt and suffering our Black friends experience and I started to get more active in becoming anti-racist. I learned that my community has my back and that our AMMA team is gold. I am grateful for the lessons and I am ready to move forward with the lessons in my heart and mind!