The end of a year usually brings about new hopes, aspirations and resolutions for the New Year that’s about to start. Some of us review what we’ve done during the past 12 months and re-evaluate where we’re headed, to decide whether we should continue walking the path we are on or shift gears and direction. Others make lists of goals they want to accomplish.
I don’t believe in the conventional New Year’s resolutions, because in my experience they tend to be a list of things we fixate on for the first couple weeks and then simply forget about. And let’s be honest, some of those have been re-written on that list for years and have probably turned some of those “resolutions” into old “self-defeating wishes” that we don’t really believe in—because we no longer trust ourselves with them.
What’s worked better for me is to focus on one intention—one single word—for the year. It could be “abundance” or “success” or “healing” or “freedom,” or anything you’d really want to experience. Once you choose one concept or idea, you will find many opportunities to explore and understand what it truly is about, and hopefully even master that particular aspect by the end of next year. I’ve done this for a while now and it’s never failed. It has given me much clarity to discern between my true desires and the ones the ego-mind comes up with, to distract me from what I want in life.
Focus On the Path Rather Than Just On the Destination
I believe that this happens because the soul doesn’t necessarily care about goals, but it certainly supports self-growth every step of the way. And when I say “the soul,” you can translate it as the Self, the Universe, the Divine, God, or whatever rings true to you because they’re ultimately the same One Infinite Consciousness that weaves the fabric of your life—and it does this through you.
Our society is very goal oriented and it focuses on outcomes. We all tend to think, “If I only had/did/could… [fill in the blank], then I’d be happy,” but the truth is that if we only focus on the outcome we run the risk of missing the process, which is really all we have and what truly matters. If we fixate only on the destination, then we may fail to recognize what we are getting from moving toward our goal. And, well, life itself is this process we are supposed to learn from and grow through. But aren’t we always rushing to get somewhere or accomplish something?
A silly analogy would be to focus on becoming old and dying as soon as we’re born, and wanting to get there right away. It wouldn’t make any sense, now would it? So why centralize our attention on what’s ahead instead of enjoying the life we can create right here, right now? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a destination at all, or goals and desires, but if you want to experience joy and peace in life, your aim has to be developing the mindfulness to be absolutely present every step of the way.
Change happens when you make a conscious decision and then follow it with action. And that’s what the usual New Year’s resolutions are supposed to be for, but the problem is that we secretly want change without making the effort that the process of changing entails. It is easy to create new intentions; the difficulty lies in maintaining and energizing those intentions or decisions on a regular basis. And it’s not that you don’t really want to do it, it’s just that the nature of the ego-mind is to prevent you from getting there because its mission is to keep you “safe” within what is familiar (even if it’s not actually safe), and any change is perceived as a threat.
Small Continuous Change Is Lasting Change
I find it much more effective to have short term goals and making small decisions and resolutions throughout the year, as a step-by-step-process that will allow you to follow through without feeling overwhelmed, and give you the ability to make adjustments as needed. For this, it’s important to have external guidance and support, because in all honesty, when you don’t have anyone to hold you accountable, you simply slide back into your old patterns. Again, it’s human nature: the momentum that sustains those patterns is much stronger than the energy of your new decisions.
Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” It’s very tricky to live in the present, however, because it’s eternally fleeting: each second is gone before you know it and if you try to hold on to or chase anything, you’re no longer in the present.
Yet what living in the present really means is to have the presence of mind to fully experience each and every moment of the process we call life. How much presence of mind you engage with in anything you do makes the difference between being connected to life (and others) versus letting it pass you by while you get tangled up with past wounds and hopes of a better future—constantly pulled in different directions.
And guess what? Being present starts right here, right now; and then right here right now again; and again and again and again, because life is a process that never stops changing and moving and shifting gears. It’s much like your breathing, which is a continuum formed by individual and unique breaths. Each of those breaths connects you to life and also fuels the process for you to experience every moment as a new opportunity to be fully engaged in what you’re creating from one instant to the next.
To Move Into a Great New Year, Ask Yourself:
1. How much have I invested in myself and my self-growth this year?
Think about yourself at the beginning of the year and check where you’re at now. We tend to be so fixated on what we we haven’t done or accomplished yet, that we forget to recognize how much effort and courage it takes to look within and stretch our comfort zone, even if we’re still struggling with issues from the past.
What you’ve invested in yourself will be reflected in your future reality. This is a reminder that a joyful life is the process of living on purpose and appreciating the things that truly matter—those that challenge you to become bigger and stronger than the obstacles you create with your own resistance. Value your effort and commitment to the process of transforming your self-perception.
2. What am I no longer willing to tolerate or settle for?
These are the things or people you have been willing to release this year, at least to some degree. Every time you give yourself permission to set clear boundaries or to let go, you free yourself a little more from attachments, resentments, and beliefs that keep you in the past and feed a self-image that doesn’t serve who YOU truly are.
In the process, you also create the space for a more authentic and meaningful life, one that is based on honesty, forgiveness, and compassion—for yourself and others. Remember that self-awareness yields self-love, and self-love creates more self-awareness.
3. What do I celebrate from this year that I want to carry on to the next?
Get clear on what has made this year unique by providing you with opportunities to step up to a challenge, position yourself differently, or stretch your comfort zone, to help you become more empowered on any level, and CELEBRATE all the miracles that each and all of your inner changes represent.
Perhaps it’s a new level of awareness, or a different viewpoint of yourself or others, or a clearer understanding of what you truly want in life. Big miracles emerge from all the little ones you make each and every day, so make the decision to keep growing and delving deeper, and make this coming year your greatest year yet!
© 2013 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.