Do you have resolutions for 2017? Does the mere sound of that word make your stomach knot in anxiety? or does it light you up with possibility?
I’ve struggled for many years in learning how best to use this time as one to jump start positive change. I’m now, solidly on the other end of this struggle, where I have found what works for me and will share it with you today. If you currently struggle with making positive changes and want to use these last few weeks before 2017 as an opportunity to start preparing for them (although anytime is the right time really), keep reading!
New Year’s Angst
Years ago I began feeling a growing angst every December as the new year approached. I knew it was an opportunity to make big change but hadn’t yet figured out how best to make use of it. I’d watch on TV with family the infamous New York ball drop at the stroke of 12 or be at parties and do the whole screaming, hugging thing at the dawn of the new year. I felt a quiet and increasingly persistent pull that I could be doing something more meaningful at that time.
Something to Lighten the Load of Effort
I wanted to enter the new year with clarity, motivation and a plan but didn’t quite know how to set that up. I was looking to experience something substantial that would carry me in my efforts to change my life, for the 12 months to come. I wanted something more than just memories of being at a party.
Playing With Resolutions
I began by copying resolution ideas from magazines and TV programs. They were always big, non-doable and over the top. I’d start the year strong and hard for the first few weeks or months at best. After a few inevitable slip ups, my plummeting confidence and self berating had me give up on resolutions altogether, not a very sustainable method to say the least.
A Lot Can Happen in a Year!
When I became pregnant with my son though, my perspective widened and I began to see how much amazingness could be done in a year; babies made, certificates earned, businesses started, houses built, books written etc. My motivation was renewed and I realized there is a middle, sweet spot where efforts towards change can be substantial and sustainable. It would take exploring and many more failed attempts but it was worth the effort to find what worked for me.
Bare Bones Honesty
First things first though, in order to stop copying what the media told me should be my resolutions and start customizing them to my actual life I needed to first take stock of where I was with nothing less than bare bones honesty. No sugar coating. This meant taking full responsibility for my part in how life had played out up until that point.
The Common Denominator
Sure there are unplanned events and I can’t control others, but when I looked closer, it boiled down to me getting that ball rolling in how I and the world around me, interacted. There were patterns that had showed up in various parts of my life that pointed to me being the common denominator.
Discomfort, the First Step to Taking Responsibility
That I was the core influence on my life was my first important insight in this process. It was a heavy load to carry when I saw how much I didn’t like. On the flip side it was empowering to realize that to the same extent that I created such mind numbing self sabotage, with some elbow grease, I could just as well make things life giving and vital. I needed to change me though, to change these outcomes.
This is the part that may be a little different than what you mostly find online. I do not answer an exhaustive list of questions on what areas of my life need improvement. When I started on this journey of changing habits there was more then enough that needed to be improved.
Get Perspective and Then Leave it Alone
Although looking at those parts was important in order to understand what choices invited the present circumstances, it more than anything just overwhelmed me. So other then looking at those parts of my life to gain perspective, I didn’t and still don’t dwell on them or intellectually dissect them much. I appreciate the pain in those places for waking me up and then I move on.
Through the Lens of Give and Take
I set aside a time no less than an hour where I can sit comfortably with paper and pen, know I will not be interrupted, make myself a yummy warm drink and get comfy. I also approach this reviewing session with a selective lens. I don’t just dive in. I decide to see whatever comes up through the lens of what feeds me or depletes me.
I have said this before on this blog and I’ll say it again…
every activity, interaction and thought either feeds you or takes from you.
I begin the review by asking myself on paper, the main questions of what people, activities and things in the areas of my work, relationships and health feed my heart, body and mind or deplete them.
An example for writing about work is as follows:
On my paper I make another space for health and another for relationships and do the same thing. In the health area I replace “things” with foods.
Example for People at Work
For example for people at work it could be those I interact with the most and I put them under the title of what effect I mostly experience after having had interacted with them, either fed or depleted. Perhaps a grumpy coworker is mostly depleting for you.
For things under work it could be your ceiling light, the equipment you use to work with for the bulk of your work. If your work chair not comfy perhaps it makes getting your work done harder and so is mostly depleting
For activities you could write the different tasks involved and how each one feeds you or depletes you overall. Perhaps some parts of your work are more exciting, fun or challenging than others.
One last example in relationships, any form of arguing, breaking of promises, animosity, dishonesty or gossip are definitely deplete-rs.
You’re A Reporter Not an Editor
I let whatever comes come, no editing here just recording what arises. Sometimes very clear cut ideas will come about how to improve things. Other times nothing. Whatever comes up I let it be. I don’t force any “solutions”. After writing this, which at minimum has taken me 30 minutes when I think of all my core relationships, core aspects of my health and work (for many years my work was being a SAHM, until recently 🙂 ) I sit with it for a few minutes.
What may come up as it has for me is that, glaring deplete-rs come to light and it becomes obvious what activities, people and things I need to let go of.
In the next post I will share how I get clear on not just what to let go of but also what to move towards.
If you found this post helpful please don’t forget to share, like or comment below!
Happy Holidays and as always thanks for stopping by!