As we roll out of Thanksgiving and race toward the next round of holidays, it might make sense to take stock of how this year has gone and begin thinking about what you can do to make next year even better. I know, for many of us, improving this year may not seem like much and the notion of "even better" may seem remote at best. Even so, let's carry the idea forward and begin looking to what you can do to make 2009 a better year for you, your family and those you care about.
Typically, this kind of article doesn't show up until the new year is already under way, and by that time, we are reduced to resolutions and other kinds of fake promises of change. This time around, I'm suggesting you take a real look at what your life is like, what your role is in improving it, and what you can actually do about it. And I'm suggesting we begin the process now, and take some real time to think about it.
The first idea to explore is what you currently have in your life, and what that says about you. Not what it says about the world around you, not what it says about politics, economics, or social unrest - what does it say about you and the choices you have made which got you where you are today? You may find it useful to read an earlier set of posts about choice and complaining about life circumstances.
So, let's start with what you already have in life. I mean the whole deal - money, family, job, career, etc. One basic principle in creating more of what you want in life is the ability to let go of what you have settled for so far, something that has been of some value to be sure, but less than what you would prefer.
Try this mental exercise for a moment:
Imagine that you are kind of hanging out in life, with a handful of peanuts as your basic source of nutrition. However, these peanuts are infested with weevils. Appetizing, huh? How are you doing in terms of protein? With the peanuts, not bad. Even better if you consider the weevils. (I know, not the best humor, but it's what I have in the moment).
As you find yourself moving through life with your peanuts and your weevils, you notice a banquet table in the not-too-far distance. Signs indicate that this is the Banquet Table of Life. All that you could hope for in terms of your favorite foods, complete nutrition and exquisite taste are right there. You are being invited to the table. YOU!
You begin to approach the table and someone stops you, saying "Wait just a minute, Bucko. No weevily peanuts allowed at the Banquet Table of Life."
So, now what do you do? You can drop the peanuts and weevils, watch the weevils scatter and the rats eat the peanuts, and proceed toward the banquet table. But a thought enters your mind: "What if this is just an illusion? What if there is no banquet table? Or what if this is just a joke, someone just teasing me? Or what if I get there and it's all been eaten? Or what if I am about to enter the banquet room and someone tells me that I'm not really welcome?"
Sound familiar? All my dreams are out there, but in order to get to them, I need to let go of what I currently have. And as soon as I let go, I then have the uneasy feeling of having nothing. And the world seems to line up to let me know that something must be wrong with my vision or goal.
About that time, one of life's interesting internal conflict emerges: "Well, it may not be much, but at least I know what I have."
For some, that's as far as life ever gets - a bunch of weevily peanuts and stories about banquets that could have been.
So, what are the weevily peanuts in your life? What is it that you have settled for so far, those things that have helped you get where you are, but less than what you prefer?
We will continue with this theme next week, but for now, I'd suggest making a list of what you have created so far in your life, and then rank those creations in three tiers: the top tier are those creations you wouldn't trade for anything; the second tier includes items that are OK, but not great; and the third tier includes those creations that you would really rather let go of in favor of something much more satisfying.
Next week we will explore the Wheel of Life as a way to examine what you have in your life, what you would prefer, and what you can do to begin creating more of what you truly want out of life. In preparation, you might find this earlier post on the difference between what you pursue in life and what you are really looking for to be of value.
I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.
If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.
Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at www.RussellBishop.com. You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.