Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. ~ Dr. Seuss
Do you make new years resolutions each year? Or do you not believe in them? Either way – you are right! Whether you make new years resolutions or not, keep them or not, the power they can provide is priceless. If you do make them, I challenge you to consider a different approach this year. If you don’t, maybe you will consider this approach as it is not about goals but more about how you exist.
I love this time of year. The week between Christmas and New years. Things are calmer, all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over. So many people are still on holiday but without grandiose expectations. The pace is easy, peaceful, and comforting. I reminds me of the feeling I get when I see an older couple walking arm-in-arm through the park – just taking their daily stroll and enjoying each other’s company and appreciating nature all around them. A calmness comes over me and I get a smile on my face. That is the feeling that makes this time magical. That is where a new year’s resolution gets is power – from the calm, centered place in you! Even if you don’t believe in new year’s resolutions, I suggest that you take time for you and for some self reflection.
time for you
Time for self reflection is a sacred practice that many people don’t follow. It does not need to be complicated. As a matter of fact it should not be complicated at all. What it should be is comfortable and calming. It should be specific to you. I can share my approach, but it is mine only. You will need to find what works best for you. I try to do my self reflection during a time where I will have no interruptions and I have plenty of time to go through the process. That is why I love new years (either eve or day) as it is usually calm in my world. I like to experience ‘me time’ early in the morning. The world is quiet (my house is quiet) and everything is new – a new day, a new life, and new possibilities. I make myself a warm and comforting beverage (usually an espresso latte with a little eggnog splash if there is any left from the holiday) and curl up in a big comfy chair. With me are all of my moleskin notebooks from the year, a pen, and a pile of magazines and newspapers for inspiration. At least that is what I did in prior years. This year I have no magazines or newspapers because I’ve gone digital! It will be different, but I’m up for the challenge. Now I must rely on my own creativity and inspiration from within my own thoughts – powerful!
year in review
I begin by writing down all of the things I am grateful for from the year (2010). I’m looking for things that help me to identify my values, strengths, wants, and needs. I am looking for things to inspire me to move forward. As I go down memory lane from the past year, inevitably thoughts of things that did not make me happy or did not go as planned come into mind. These I also capture so that I can see what I want to do differently next year. Caution: this exercise can be very challenging, emotional, and sometimes painful. But if you can bear it, it can be inspiring, fruitful, and therapeutic as well.
theme of 2010
Once I’ve written down thoughts about the past year, I look them over to find a theme. What is common about these thoughts and things? Is it a feeling? Is it a mindset? Maybe there is a location or person common in all of them. As you look through your list, write down any theme ideas that come to mind. There is no right or wrong answer – only your answer. Last year my theme was ‘connect.’ All of my activities seemed to be about connecting to others: friends, family, local community, and kindred spirits throughout the world via social media. One year I was surprised (and upset) that my theme was scarcity. Everything I wrote and even how I wrote it sent a message of scarcity. Can you see how finding the common theme or thread that ran through the prior year can be of value? It helps you to make a choice, a decision about the coming year.
Now it’s time to take what you have learned and make a bold request of yourself for 2011. What is the one thing that will guide you in your actions, decisions, and thoughts throughout 2011? This is the power of the new year – even if it isn’t the traditional resolution. It is more like an evolution – of you as a human being. Remember, this is not a SMART goal. Resist putting numbers or deadlines in your statement. It is less of a goal and more of a guidepost. It will last all year and hopefully beyond. This is not about loosing weight after the holidays, going to the gym regularly, staying on your budget, or reducing the number of hours you work each week. This is about the driving force of every single choice, every single action, every single thought you make. This is bigger than a goal – this is your way of being in the world!
existence precedes essence
Set yourself up for conscious choice. Your way of being in the world is created by the actions you take: existence precedes essence. Therefore, you can change your way of being – who you are in the world, by changing your actions. Change your actions by making a decision to do so – by providing yourself with one simple guiding principle for the year – just one thing. I choose only one thing because change is very difficult. It takes time, effort, choice, and support. It takes doing things and thinking differently. By chosing only one area of focus there is no conflict between goals. You don’t have to worry about saving money and paying for that gym membership. One goal, one year, one choice, powerful results.
my guidepost: creativity
Here is my bold choice. For 2011 my guiding principle is: create. All year long I will be focusing on creating. Each day I’ll ask myself: what am I doing right now to create something of value for the world? If there are activities on my calendar or in my daily habits that do not support this guiding principle, I must take action to change them. Of course, this does not mean that I stop paying bills, exercising, or doing laundry. All of those things allow me to create – as a matter of fact they create the environment that allows me to create. However, if I find myself watching mindless TV, thinking negative and unproductive thoughts, spending energy on past events, or worrying for example, then I need to challenge how that is helping me create. If I sit and worry about paying a bill, I must challenge that activity as something that does not support my guiding principle of creating.
it’s your turn
Now it’s your turn. What will your guiding principle be for 2011? Here are a few examples others have chosen: abundance, unconditional positive regard, centered and calm, daily giving, experiences (doing vs. thinking about), excellence, efficiency, listen first then talk, and simplicity. If it would help you to make the commitment to your guiding principle, consider sharing your commitment in the comments.
Consider your theme for 2011 as a daily practice. You are not expected to be 100% perfect on January 1st. Nor do I expect that every day in 2011 will be perfect. But I do expect that each day we will both be intentionally taking action that supports our guiding principle and will recognize and change things that do not support our intentions. The new years evolution takes daily practice, self reflection, and often the support of a coach. If you engage a coach, she will be able to provide you with focused attention, guidance, and new perspective. Whether you go it alone or with a coach, making the bold commitment for the new year is the first step in the evolution of you!