I’ve always welcomed in the New Year with mixed feelings. There’s the relief at having made it through the holiday season intact (as an adult, this has not historically been my favorite time of year). There’s the excitement about starting out fresh again with a clean slate – made tangible by a new, blank calendar. (I think this may be leftover from the excitement of the new school year I experienced when I was in elementary school, giddy with pristine blank notebooks, colorful binders, and new school supplies!) There’s often been the heaviness of disappointment of the previous year’s aspirations and goals not reached. But the feeling I connect with most is hope - the renewed hope for dreams and desires to be realized in the coming year. A new year is filled with such overwhelming potential, that it’s hard to imagine that it won’t be amazing!
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a little bit smarter about setting my self up for ‘success’ when the new year rolls around. While the Type A part of me used to make resolutions each year - which later morphed into year-long plans complete with lists of goals for each area in my life – the self-induced pressure to achieve these goals and then consequent disappointment and self-judgment when they weren’t reached made this method less than fulfilling, to say the least! Since I couldn’t tame my planning/organizing nature, rather than give up my lists and goal-making, I started to design goals more towards how I wanted to feel (peaceful, loving, content, happy, relaxed) rather than what I wanted to have (a better job, slimmer body, different relationship, more money, nicer house, etc.) As I’ve made the shift towards prioritizing feeling joyful in my life, this has become easier and easier. Focusing in this way has made a huge difference in how I define success. Even though I fall short of feeling the way I want all the time, I’ve already succeeded just by experiencing what I want more and more of the time. Over the years, the urge to make formal plans and goals has lessened. Although I gave up resolutions years ago, I still take time out each year to think about how I would like to grow and what I would like to create more of in my life, as well as what I would like to let go of.
This year, I noticed several of the spiritual teachers and coaches I follow for insight and inspiration were talking about simplifying or modifying their process for planning in the New Year. Dr. Robert Holden, one of my favorite teachers, talked about how a few years ago he started shrinking his resolutions down to one word (e.g. love) to serve as his compass or theme for the year. I love this idea, and am still ruminating on what one word could sum up my deepest desire for 2014. I also decided to try a suggestion by Bryan Reeves, who has a great You Tube video explaining his process for choosing a “Life Theme Mantra”. He encourages us to put it out in the world, so I’m making a public announcement hoping that will keep me on track. For 2014, my theme is to “Take My Own Medicine”. I’ll explain more about what that means to me next time.
Meanwhile, what is calling for you in this New Year? I invite you to take some time to think about what you’d like be, feel, do, or have in your life. If you died tomorrow, what would you regret about your life that you could still change? What would you wish you had more of? Less of? Are there any actions you would like to take this year to move you closer to the life you’d like to be living? I’d love to hear your comments, ideas, or questions below.