I sat down with some clients this week to debunk some myths that many of us hold on to, about the end of one year and the beginning of a new one and this time of year in general when the pressure feels on.
Does it need to be? Does a new year have to be such a big deal?
Maybe some of these will resonate with you too, maybe some will help you with where you’re stuck in your own life, maybe some will help you get out of your own way, and maybe some will spark something inside of you that will expand your own awareness. This gave me profound food for thought.
If even one of these points help you be more compassionate to yourself in 2019, it will be worth it.
I have to take a good hard look at myself on Dec 31st.
You can take a good hard look at yourself ANY day of the year.
Once a year, I have to take stock, get real with my life and know a set plan for the entire New Year – and that in itself is so overwhelming for me.
You can take stock, get real and plan each day, each week, each month or each year at any given moment. You don’t have to make this a once a year EVENT. Personal development is a PROCESS not an event. It is more like a gauge than a switch.
You can choose. You can work on multiple levels at any stage of your life at any time of the year. You don’t have to wait for a year to end or until you have a crystal clear picture of the year ahead. Each purposeful choice you make will lead you in the direction of where you want to go gradually and intentionally.
You don’t have to know everything right now.
Success is not an EVENT.
It is a PROCESS.
You do not have to know the whole story.
All you have to know is your next step.
Everyone around me is setting resolutions and sharing what they’ve accomplished. Everyone is focusing on their wins. This time of year just makes me think of all the things I haven’t done yet or failed to accomplish.
You are allowed to review your year and choose what to focus on. You can focus on what you haven’t managed to do yet or you can choose to focus on things you have achieved. If you can review your year and take a challenge you’ve overcome or something you did that you are proud of, you are allowed to focus on that and celebrate that. We get to choose where to shine the spotlight. Either on all the things we haven’t managed to do – or – to shift our focus and put our attention, soaking up inspiration and motivation from the things we have managed to do. Whatever we focus on grows. You get to decide. You get to review everything that went wrong, or everything that went right. Or both.
At the end of a year, that’s when we claim our big prizes and track our progress and perform evaluations.
You get to claim awesome prizes along the journey too. You do not have to wait until the end of the year to be proud of yourself, learn something new about yourself, develop strengths, or see progress, grow and develop. The end of not the jackpot!
Everything you do along the way is!
You get to track each step along the way. Each win is a really big deal, not just the end prize. In fact, often times, if we wait until December 31st to be proud of ourselves and celebrate success, we’ll give up long before.
Claim your prize, track your progress and evaluate throughout the year instead.
My resolutions and goals are usually written down like this: All the things I must, have to, should, ought to, need to – and I genuinely find this pressurizing and stressful.
Pay close attention to language. Use other words.
The words have to, must, should, ought to – they activate the anxiety and stress centers in our brain. How about rewording your resolutions and goals with the words:
I will, I want to, I’m going to, I’d love to, I’d like to….
That way they will be value-based instead of needs- based. Your list becomes a heartfelt list of things that really matter to you, things you honestly want to do, things that are important to you. They become a blessing instead of a burden. Change your wording and your emotional experience may feel very different.
I have to make changes in so many areas of my life simultaneously because when I am truly honest with myself, when one area isn’t at its best – everything feels like it’s just not good enough.
When we are making a change, it’s certainly messy in the middle.
It feels like the chaos has pervaded every area of our life.
Often, if we stop to separate each zone of our life into its own compartments, we may be pleasantly surprised to notice that so much is actually looking pretty good in other areas – we were just clouded by the fog of our current difficulty or obstacle that overtook everything else.
So – let’s separate them. There are amazing tools to do this well. We may be changing careers and everything feels so unstable, but when we look at our health or our hobbies or the relationships we have – those may indeed be flourishing. Let’s see each piece of the puzzle for what it is, rather than making sure the puzzle is perfectly complete.
When I review my year, whatever hasn’t worked out the way I wanted it to, makes me feel like a complete failure.
Events and we are not one in the same.
Perhaps, what we tried failed, what we tried didn’t work. That may be accurate.
But we are not failures. The action may have failed.
We are not failures.
Let’s train ourselves to separate our actions from who we are.
And let’s consider failure as valuable feedback telling us that what we did didn’t work, it’s actually an invitation for us to make some important adjustments and try something else, something new, something different.
When I review my year, I can see failure as feedback and learn from it. My effort may have failed, but I am not a failure.
Everyone has it so together. I’m a disaster.
Fact: No-one has it perfectly together.
We get a glimpse into people’s lives by what we see or what we have exposure to. There are countless behind the scene moments throughout the year where everyone we know is fighting a battle we know absolutely nothing about.
The biggest gift we can give ourselves is that of not comparing.
Not judging our successes and failures in relation to others.
It leads to jealousy which is a futile emotion that allows us to count other people’s blessings instead of our own.
It also tempts us into using other people’s definitions of success as the yardstick for our own progress. And we may land up climbing to the top of someone else’s ladders only to sadly realize we climbed the wrong one!
What a shame that would be.
Our job is to look at ourselves. Live honest, authentic lives with integrity in alignment with our own values. Live your truth, your purpose – not someone else’s. To the extent that we can strengthen this abundant mindset, there is plenty for everyone and we can all achieve joy, fulfillment and meaning in our own ways. We can even help others achieve their goals and help them as much as possible. It’s quite awesome actually.
No one has it all together and you are not a disaster.
I think my idea of success isn’t serving me. Success to me is a person who has done well. I connect that to wealth and fame. I see people, especially around this time of year, celebrating in exotic locations at lavish New Years parties and I can’t help but wonder if I’ve been looking at success all wrong.
Who do you truly admire?
What is your definition of success?
I admire kindness.
I admire strong people who don’t give up, who know how to forgive, who are inspirational, positive and uplifting.
I admire givers.
I admire wise, thoughtful, knowledgeable people.
I admire people who are vulnerable about what’s hard.
I admire optimism.
I admire authenticity.
I admire helpfulness.
I admire gratitude.
I admire hard work.
I admire humor and laughter.
I admire depth.
Think about your definition of success.
Imagine your 90th birthday party celebration and someone stands up to make a speech.
The speech is all about you.
Everyone is gathered around to celebrate your life and your success.
What do you want them to say?
What do you want to be known for?
What legacy do you want to leave?
What contribution do you want to make in this world and this lifetime?
Our time here is fragile and precious.
Who do you want to be celebrated for?
Your answers to this question are magnificent clues and insights for you to create a life you want to celebrate.
Not only once a year annually on 31st December at midnight when the fireworks roar, but every single day, quietly and unassumingly, when no-one is counting and no-one is looking and there aren’t any fireworks drowning the noise of your fears and insecurities, doubts and humaneness.
The little things you do, to live a life you truly value, not because one day a year dictates you must, not because everyone else is doing it, not because you feel like a failure or because your success is being measured and judged by others’ standards, but because you want to, because you choose to, because one random Wednesday morning you reached your threshold and decided it’s enough, I’m doing this now, I’m committing today!
Because you had a moment of awareness or a spark of inspiration, or you felt willing enough and ready enough to take something upon yourself – that’s when you set resolutions and make a change.
Because that’s when it matters most and that’s how you create a life that has more meaning and heart for you, than any specific date or time of the year.
And yes – you get to party like crazy every single time you are brave and courageous. Every time you ask for help. Every time you try. Every time you get back up after you fall. Every time you do something new and take a chance. Every time to step out of your comfort zone – you get to party like crazy. Every time you cry. Every time you are afraid but do it anyway. Every time you show up, doing the best you can, with where you are.
And if it so happens to be December 31st – then that’s pretty amazing too!