A clean slate — yours to create every Jan. 1
New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday. 365 delicious days. 52 wonderful weeks. 12 mesmerizing months. It’s the ultimate new beginning!
Year end review/year in preview
It’s also a time for reflection — looking back at the year in review and looking ahead at the year in preview. What will you take into the new year — both professionally and personally?
While you may be focused on what you want to bring into your life in the coming year, it’s helpful to look at what you may need to release.
After all, it’s a two-way street. And there’s only so much capacity. There may even be competing interests with what you say you want to bring in — and what already exists on your platter.
Just take the three broad categories of health, relationships and finances. All require lifestyle decisions, and you’ll need to be realistic about these. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
Setups for success
The most important ingredients for success include focus, discipline and support systems. Old habits are hard to break. And if you’re holding on to something that gets in the way, you’re just setting yourself up for self-sabotage.
Say you want to improve a relationship. First of all, you need to be specific about what you want to change. And you need to focus on your role. You can’t control the other person. You can only control your actions — and your responses to their behavior.
This doesn’t mean you have to roll over, by any means. You can set some firm boundaries about what you will accept — and won’t — going forward. Remember: What you tolerate you cannot change. And you teach people how to treat you.
People do what works. We’ve trained the people in our lives — and they’ve trained us — to go along with certain patterns. Your new boundary may very well rock another person’s world. So, it’s imperative that you have systems in place to stay the course.
The Burning Bowl
There’s a New Year’s ritual I do every year that sets the course for me. It’s called “The Burning Bowl Ceremony,” and it can be done alone or in a group. I’ve described the steps below for a do-it-yourself ritual.
It’s always a powerful release of what I choose to let go. Nothing like seeing that list go up in flames to sear the points in my mind! Then I have a fresh canvas for the new year.
BURNING BOWL CEREMONY:
1. After a time of quiet reflection, consider your goals and dreams for the new year.
2. Write down those things you resolve to let go — as a way of removing obstacles in your path. Spend some time with this. Your list may even include intangible things like resentment and judgment.
3. When you’re ready, light a match to the paper, hold it over a bowl and safely let it drop into the ashes. This symbolizes — and solidifies — your intention to let go of those things that no longer serve you. (I often do a “fist pump” afterward!)
So, how will you be living your life these next 365 days? And I don’t mean how many resolutions and goals you want to achieve. How will you show up — at work, at home and out in the world?
There are both contenders and pretenders in life. And I don’t think any of us want to end up like Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront,” ruminating that “I coulda been a contender.”
Being aware and being present don’t sound like very lofty goals, yet these two characteristics have everything to do with the quality of life we experience.
How many times have you sent your “representative” out into the world — going through the motions — instead of really showing up yourself? Have you stopped to think how you might have cheated yourself out of richer experiences?
Past, present and future
All too often you may find yourself stuck or frozen in fear. Too busy worrying about something that happened in the past — or projecting into the future. While you’re doing this, you’re missing out on your life today.
I’m not saying you don’t need to plan. I’m a big believer in setting goals. It’s just when the process starts to overcome the end result that you may need to take a step back. Hurrying through life really has no purpose, and it’s certainly not very fulfilling.
Our minds are like puppies — easily distracted, says author Iyanla Vanzant. Train your mind to sit. If you’ve gotten used to overloading yourself with thoughts of next week or next month, stop. Take a moment to focus. Licking, nibbling and gnawing obsessively on next week — when this week is still here to be enjoyed — can totally exhaust you.
Who knows? Single-tasking may become the new multitasking — and actually result in more accomplishments for you this year, along with more quality. Although your speed of life has, no doubt, expanded exponentially, that doesn’t mean you have to hurtle through space just to keep up. After all, what’s the point? If you’re always striving, you’re never arriving!
What are you emphasizing?
Enjoy your clean slate. Plan to show up more in your own life this year. Anticipate the palette you’re bringing to it — and the rich tapestry you’re weaving.
As author Carlos Castenada said, “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”
©2018 Linda Arnold Live Life Fully, all rights reserved. Linda B. Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., Is a syndicated columnist and psychological counselor. Reader comments are welcome at email@example.com For Information, go to www.lindaarnold.org or amazon.com.