Carpe Annos Singulos [Sieze the Year]
It’s the end of the year. And I notice peoples’ focus is on two things in abundance: 1) Reflection on the last 365 days, and 2) How they will do (or be) better in the upcoming trip around the sun. These things deserve our attention, and I’d like to weigh in on the conversation.
I want to acknowledge that it’s super great that folks take time to catch their breathe, press pause for a second to hop off the hamster wheel of crazy responsibilities and give their life some (much needed) thought, attention, and care. In fact, the more often we are able to take small respites, the more empowered and content we will become. Too often, we are swept away by the hustle of obligations.
[Hang in here with me as we take a slight detour]. Brené Brown is a researcher who has studied shame, vulnerability, worthiness and courage in great depth. Naturally, she also explores what makes people resilient. She says, “Wholehearted Living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’” My wish is that we stop perpetuating the notion that being busy is the only way. We tie so much of our worth to what we’ve accomplished… how much we can get done. I find this so fundamentally flawed. (And albeit flawed, let me also say – YOU are not flawed if this is the mode of operation for your own life). Our acute focus on achievement leaves us perpetually disappointed (because… um… there’s * always *more to do).
I’m going to let you in on a big ol’ secret that I pray will help you as you move into the new year with intention. Ready?
There will NEVER be enough time to get it all done. Ever. Like… never ever. But there will ALWAYS be enough time for the most important things.
But here’s where it gets challenging. The most important things are frequently quiet. They aren’t a demanding boss, or the giant mountain of laundry inhibiting your ability to use your couch. So, we gotta’ be disciplined enough to contemplate what the “most important things” are for us, as individuals… then continually keep them on our radar… in our awareness.
"Joy comes to us in ordinarymoments. We risk missing out when we are too busy chasing down the extraordinary."
Ok, Wholehearted living, busy versus happy… how does this all weave into the original conversation of year-end reflection and new years resolutions? Instead of only contemplating “how we can do, or be, better in the upcoming year”…. I propose we give some honest attention to the question: “How can I spend my time to create more fulfillment and joy?” (And, before we can really give that an honest answer, we will need to truly understand our personal values and priorities). The thing is, even well intentions for self-improvement can quickly become part of the scarcity mindset of “I’m not enough as I am now. I’ll be happy when _______. I’ll be a better partner/parent/employee/person when _______.” It’s great to want to grow, learn and improve…but not at the expense of your present self-worth.
This is the challenge I urge you to consider if you’d like live with more authenticity, resilience, and joy in 2018. [I invite you to actually answer these questions… like with real paper and pen]
Step 1: Ask yourself, “Who would I be without exhaustion? If I had the energy (emotional and physical) to devote to my highest priorities, how would my life be different?”
[Note: these are your special gifts, this is who you really are – beyond your titles]
Step 2: When things are going really well for you, what does your life look like? Where are you? Who is with you? Most importantly – how are you spending your time? Make an “ingredient for happiness” list.
Step 3: How can you prioritize these things that make your life most joyful and meaningful? How can you integrate more of your “ingredients for happiness” into your every day? (If you don’t give them your attention, you will waddle through life as a sum of your responsibilities… and that would be a shame, because you are filled to the brim with purpose).
Pro-tip: You may be super motivated and inspired to make some huge shifts. May I gently advise smaller shifts? Really tiny things you can do/incorporate on a daily (or very regular) basis. Consistency will be your BFF when you’re changing a behavior or pattern….and if you decide to act in a way that asks a lot of you, it probably won’t be sustainable. Don’t underestimate the power of a tiny tiny change of a long period of time.
Step 4: Ok, now it’s time to make it happen. (This is the hard part). If it’s truly one of your top priorities… one of your core values, you’ll need to put it first. Yep – pencil it in on your calendar, make alarms on your phone, shift your schedule where you can ensure that you’ll actually spend your time doing the thing that you just proclaimed as essential to your happiness and vitality.
Pro-tip: Make it the same time every day (or every occurrence). Also, choose a time that is consistent and least vulnerable to disruptions.
Your resolutions (or whatever you feel good calling them – goals, intentions..etc) should be a reflection of your priorities. Period. If family is #1 on your list, but your resolution is to lose a bunch of weight – than that’s not what’s going to bring you the most joy and reward, ya’ see? What’s important to you that has not been getting your deserved attention? And please be gentle with your sacred self. Remember, life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.