December seams to jerk us out of the microcosm. We’ve been steadily going through our paces when suddenly we wake up and it’s the last month of the year. Now’s the time when most of us decide that next year we’re going to do it better; next year is going to be, “The Best Year Ever!”
And that’s great, but let’s face it- most of us will abandon our New Year’s Resolutions within the first week of January. Why? Usually it’s because are resolutions are barely more than a pipe dream. We hardly consider how we are going to accomplish this great big ‘thing’ that’s going to make everything better, or why we even want it in the first place.
Then, what do we do? How do we continue to grow closer to our dreams each year? I can only tell you what’s worked for me, so far. It lies in these four steps: Celebrating, Learning, Releasing, and Committing.
Most of us are hardest on ourselves (save the sociopaths). I can easily rattle off ten or more things I can improve upon at any given moment. Ask me what I’m doing right and it might take me a minute. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the work you have ahead, but it’s equally important to give yourself credit for all that you’ve accomplished this year.
Exercise: Find a quiet space to sit with a pen and paper. Then, write down everything you are proud of, beginning with January and working your way through the year. Write down absolutely everything, even the smaller victories. When you are completely finished hold the list close to your heart and repeat the mantra below.
Mantra: “I am proud of everything I’ve accomplished this year. In this moment, I am complete. I am enough.”
Failure does not exist where there is a lesson learned. I believe that with all of my heart. Yes, even those lessons I’ve had to learn over and over and over again. When we continue to experience the same hardship, it’s simply means we have not learned the lesson. When we know better, we do better.
Exercise: Armed with a pen and paper, make two columns. On one side write, “Where have I failed?” and on the other, “What have I learned?”. Meditate on each and be as honest as possible. Whatever you don’t investigate may present itself once again in the year to come. Once you are satisfied with your list, hold it close to your heart and repeat the mantra below.
Mantra: “May every failure be a mirror, so that I may know myself more intimately. In this moment, I am complete. I am enough.”
Almost all of our actions are born of habit. This is a tough one to admit of ourselves, but so easy to notice in others. We all know a person that year after year ‘end up’ with a horrible boss, a callous partner, or maybe they seam to switch jobs at roughly the same time every year. If you can be really introspective, you can find these patterns in your own life.
Exercise: At the top of your paper write, “What in my life no longer serves me?” I guarantee there are actions you take daily, weekly, or monthly that hold absolutely no meaning for you. If you are doing things simply because you’ve ‘always done them’ or the people in you life expect it of you, it’s time to let them go. On your paper write down as many of these actions as you can. Then, hold the paper close to your heart and repeat the mantra below.
Mantra: “These actions don’t define my character. In this moment. I am complete. I am enough.”
The most popular resolutions usually revolve around health and relationships. Yet, have we really stopped to ask ‘why’ we really want to be fitter or adored by a romantic partner? It’s because deep down what we really want is love. That’s what everyone wants. And we believe that these things however far fetched will bring us love or some kind of inner joy. Can you pick one action that is fully in your control that will bring you complete joy at your core? Many years ago, I chose yoga and for a full year I committed to my practice, forgoing all other sports and hobbies, without any material destination or goal. Every time I practiced I felt love for myself and a deep inner joy. At moments when I stopped to take inventory of my life, I noticed that other areas had also benefitted. Work, family, and friends all seamed more authentic to me.
Exercise: On your sheet write down one thing that you can do daily or weekly that you suspect will bring you a deep inner joy. Sign and date it as a sacred contract with yourself. Now, hold the paper close to your heart and repeat the mantra below.
Mantra: “I commit to love and nurturing my deep inner joy. In this moment, I am complete. I am enough. I am absolutely worth it.”
Place the commitment in a place where you will see it every day. The rest of the papers you may burn in ritual or you may hide them some place until the end of next year, so you may see how far you’ve come.
May we all welcome the new year with joy, belief, and optimism.