Take a deep breath, it's almost over! The year of foreclosures, bailouts and shoe-throwing is now a slow fade to the past. January 1 is dawning, the shift in the calendar when most people have the instinctive urge to turn their gaze to a hopefully brighter horizon. One might disdainfully think it's a day like any other, maybe with a hang-over... but not really. Cultivated and cultured as we are, the wave of renewal and fresh possibilities still hits us at midnight every December 31st. We are drawn to time cycles -- with the New Year comes some innate hope and renewal. Insurance plans re-up, a new president is about to be inaugurated, and the drop of the glittering ball at Times Square carries a psychic wallop like the sun hitting the rock altar at Stonehenge.
We are still creatures of the seasons with a perpetual itch for regeneration. A colleague and genius friend of mine, Thea Sommer sent me an email that jump-started my thinking on this.
The New Year is an opportunity to turn the page, to take with you whatever you find useful from 2008 and to have 2009 rock.
So grab a coffee, get comfy, and hit up a little personal inventory of the past twelve months.
Completing 2008... Clearing the Slate
1. What happened this year? What the heck did I accomplish?
Check out all parts of your life: your romantic relationships, how you spent your time, career, your relationship with yourself, business relationships, bad habits, your home, creativity, income, adventure, confidence, experiencing and communicating your feelings (with grace), healthy boundaries/being expressive & clear, your spiritual life, fitness/health, your service to others/making a difference in a way that's meaningful to you, sex, family, community or civic involvement, learning new things, friendships and real connectedness, taking risks, financial management, and further developing your values, ethics, integrity, and personal character.
2. What did I fail to accomplish that I had hoped to achieve?
3. Where was I an arse? Who did I hurt (intentionally or unintentionally)?
4. What did I grow from?
5. What am I holding onto that I am ready to let go of?
6. What am I holding onto that I am resisting releasing?
7. What beginnings did I make this year and how am I doing with these ventures?
8. What ended for me this year and how am I coping with the finality of those experiences?
9. What am I avoiding or not dealing with in my life right now?
Inventing 2009... Your Way!
1. What are my desires this year (include all the areas of your life that are important to you).
2. What relationships do I want to create, develop or enhance in 2009?
3. What is this year going to "be about" for me? (Example: A year of prosperity, a year of forgiveness, a year of balance, etc...)
4. We all know practice is required to have something turn out well...so what specific disciplines and actions (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional) will support me in the fulfillment of my goals?
5. What conversations am I in with myself that may keep me from fulfilling my vision, or keep me stuck or on the sidelines? (Distinguish them and write out what you can do about them.) Learn to know (and nuke) the mean voice in your head from the wise inner teacher that helps you make smart decisions.
6. For those of you who are a little creative, make the now Oprah-famous vision board. Pull pictures out of magazines that speak to you and throw them onto your board. Get over perfectionism... just have fun with it.
Note: This process is not for the faint of heart. It's a very real challenge. Creating something new requires intention, focus, persistence and resourcefulness. Many of us are OK with trying to achieve our objectives until it seems hard, or we hit a roadblock or until we don't feel like it anymore. That's why New Years Resolutions are usually such a joke. "I'll smoke or drink less or go to the gym more often" and I really mean it..."until I don't feel like it, and then I'll do what I feel like" is the private conversation of the mind. When you commit to creating new direction, "take it on" fully.
Beware: ideas disappear if you don't create a solid framework to hold them together. We all know Weight Watchers works because you have to show up at that damn meeting and report to the group how you're doing. Despite good intentions, we're not great at keeping promises to ourselves. In fact, we're rather lousy.
1. So go public with your aims and have friends you trust lovingly hold you accountable. Step up and run your goals by a couple of people close to you. Yes, it's scary, because now you're on the hook for doing what you said you would do or being full of hot air. Let them know what you are up to; ask them to support you and not to let you cop out. Get a coach. Get a buddy. But create a support structure for yourself.
2. Put the outline of what you want to create in 2009 on your bathroom wall, or send it to yourself as an email that arrives at the end of each month to remind you of your own game.
Make sure that your efforts don't become one more thing that you committed to that you didn't go to work on.
This year, practice stretching yourself, get comfortable being a little uncomfortable in the name of your vision.
Enjoy this if it suits you.
Good riddance 2008. And 2009... Welcome to the Party.