How to Transform Obligation into Inspiration

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The new year is a great time to reflect on the lessons you’ve learned. I’m again reminded of the importance of setting clear intentions. I‘ve spent many a year focusing on other people’s needs and desires, without having a clue as to what I wanted. This resulted in an endless, exhaustive dance to make others happy, while I was left feeling lonely and resentful. As a recovering people-pleaser, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that I need to get clear about what I want and then, have the courage to articulate those desires to others.

I begin each year with a simple exercise to do just that.

Each night for one week, I answer two questions by making a list on my phone:

  1. What people, interactions, tasks and conversations GIVE me energy today?
  2. What people, interactions, tasks and conversations DRAINED me of energy today?

I figure this out by paying particular attention to my body’s physical signals. I know that when I’m acting from a “have to” or “should” place, I experience throat constriction, muscle tightening and jaw clenching. This drains me of energy.
On the other hand, when I feel passionate, my body often relaxes and opens, and I experience even, slow breathing. This is an energy-fueling experience.

Over the course of the week, patterns begin to emerge. It’s easy to recognize where I’m taking action out of obligation vs. acting out of inspiration. This process shakes me out of my routine and wakes me up to my desires.

What about you? What do YOU want?

Try this simple exercise for seven days and find out.
First, make a list of:

  1. What experiences GIVE you energy?

  2. Which ones DRAIN you?

Then, notice any patterns that emerge and allow them to guide you in choosing more effectively in the coming year. Join the conversation and tell me what you discover!

Will inspiration or obligation fuel you this year? Send me your questions — drop me a tweet at #AskDoctorNeha or write your question and comments down below.

 

To creating a meaningful life,

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  • Heidi Campagna

    This is a great idea! I’m going to begin tonight.