4 Powerful Choices to Start the New Year
The New Year is now underway and many of us will be practicing the resolutions which we made for our lives for 2019. From previous experience I know for myself that making promises to “Start every day with Yoga” or “learn guitar” or any other super specific resolution can easily fizzle out after a few weeks and the initial book of inspiration wears off.
Instead, I preferred this year to think about the kinds of experiences I want to have this year, who I want to be and what I’d like to achieve, and create a short list of general attitudes and personal guidelines which I can follow, refine and learn from throughout the year. I would like to share 4 of these with you and invite you to adopt, adapt, or ponder these resolutions for yourself and what you’d like to experience in your life this year!
- Stop waiting for things to happen to you and take initiative.
The question you need to ask yourself in that question is, am I still happy waiting? Am I still satisfied with this situation or committed to it? The actions you take from this should not be heat of the moment decisions, but rather critical choices, cool-headedly calculated, the pros and cons weighed and a rational conclusion arrived at. Maybe it is time to explore some new opportunities in your life? Maybe it’s just time to take something new on in a different area of your life, and not rely on this one thing to bring you happiness? This doesn’t mean you have to give up on the possibility of what you were waiting for, it just means that you are opening up the space to whatever comes easily and naturally. You may end up even causing the original outcome you wanted, or you might discover something wholly new and even better than what you originally had in mind. Either way, you will have stopped moping about in the dejected non-action of “the waiting place” (as Dr. Seuss called it) and will regain an empowering sense of control in your life and that within itself is something to be cherished. I will spend this year pausing only to reflect or rest, but not waiting around for excitement, adventure or joy to happen to me.
2. Allow yourself to FEEL without worry or shame.
Feeling is one of the fundamental human conditions of life which let us know we exist. It is so important to us that we are instantly concerned about their emotional and mental health if someone tells us that they do not feel sad when a loved one has passed, do not feel happy when they have cause to celebrate, or do not feel anything at all except numbness in most situations. Despite this obvious importance we prescribe to feeling, many of us in the modern world are terrified of it. To ‘catch feelings’ in a casual relationship is generally considered a taboo, to feel down when you’ve had a bad day is considered to be something which must be remedied as quickly as possible, to feel attraction towards someone else whilst in a committed relationship is not supposed to occur under any circumstances. Nonetheless, all these feelings happen, and we must assume because they happen so commonly that they are quite natural human things to experience. Why then do we instantly reach for a phone to distract us from disturbing thoughts, a warm body to distract us from feeling lonely, or a bottle of pills to stop us from feeling sad? This is not to say of course that these things are not sometimes useful and necessary escapes from more dangerous types of overthinking, but one wonders which in the modern world it is our first resort rather than one of our last? In this new year, I have decided to spend more time accepting that I feel how I feel right now, and to treat these feelings with less significance.
My emotions are not the absolute dictators of my life or what I can or should do. Feelings, positive or negative, are intangible, fluid and will always come and go like the tide, sometimes without rhyme or reason. Feelings are fickle, so why do we attach SO much meaning to the fact that something makes us feel a certain way, why do we worry about it? I don’t know what I’ll want to do in three weeks, whether I’ll feel enthusiastic or lazy, who I’ll want to spend time with, what the status of my love life will be, so why worry that it’s this certain way now? If I look back at my life, pretty much every wonderful thing that has happened to me came as a surprise, and was even more enjoyable because it was unexpected. At the same time, everything that I’ve spent my time worrying about, whipping up my fears over the fact that I liked this person but wasn’t sure they liked me back, fretting about whether or not I’d get that job or pass this test, all of it made no difference to the outcome, and in fact I would have had a lot more fun along the way if I’d spent more time being present and less time in my head. If I just allow myself to feel my emotions, good or bad, and simply allow, acknowledge, express and be with them, I know I will save loads of time worrying or strategising and the feelings may in fact may be very beneficial to work through for my emotional development. I do not intend to do this alone, and in fact having a loving support network whom I can trust and express or vent these emotions to from time to time will undoubtedly prove paramount to my success in remaining emotionally grounded and balanced and not getting swept up in my own thoughts. Yet all the same, the choice will remain within me how I process my emotions, and rather than over analysing them, resisting them or chastising myself for having them, I will do my utmost simply to allow them, learn from them and feel all parts of the human experience.
3. Forgive yourself for the mistakes of the past
This part is actually related to the last in term of allowing ones self just to feel, however it takes this one crucial step further; that is, don’t indulge in negativity! Although there are many forms of negativity to indulge in, the most common one I find myself continually dipping my toes into is regret. This year, it’s time to stop carrying around that ball and chain! The twin emotions of guilt and regret truly are useless. Unlike happiness, grief, desire, inspiration, charity or even anger, guilt does not bring anything constructive to the table, but rather has us turn inward, mope, lose presence and connection with the simple pleasures of life and generally just make ourselves miserable for not real reason. We can’t stop ourselves from feeling guilt or regret, however we do have a say over how much we indulge in it. Rather than following the mental breadcrumbs they lay out for us and tumbling down the endless rabbit-hole of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’, and rather than trying to desperately and hopelessly resist them, we could in this new year all use a little mindfulness and simple notice these thoughts and feelings, acknowledge them, allow them to be, and then get on with things which are actually important, tangible and relevant to our lives right now. The thing with guilt and regret is that you can pine away for what could have been all you want, but at the end of the day no amount of thinking about the past is going to change it, there is no going back, only moving forward. Depending on the significance of the thing you feel regret over, it may not be easy to immediately let it go, and the process of doing so may be one which you wish to embark on with the help of others, however no matter the how great or small, how recent or long ago it was, that thing in your past does not need to impact your future or present, and the start of the new year can mark a perfect opportunity to commit to getting complete with your past.
4. Take risks; be bolder, brighter, be the person you’d WANT to be.
This one is pretty self explanatory. In this new year, I’d like to have new and exciting experiences, grow as a human being in many physical, mental and emotional capacities, forge new relationships and strengthen existing ones which bring joy and meaning into my life, and have a bigger and more positive impact on the world around me and achieve more success. What this is likely going to take more than anything else is the willingness to step out of my comfort zone, try new things, push my limits, maybe get a little embarrassed sometimes and to make mistakes. I’d like to play with how I dress, what I eat, who I spend time with, what I do and generally find what makes me the happiest and most fulfilled in the moment. This really comes from experience, as I have continually, particularly in 2018, pushed myself to grow and expand my capacities and my comfort zones beyond what I thought possible in a number of different directions. I tend to believe that this expanding and growing is never finished, so if I would like to have further great and more extraordinary experiences in 2019, I should continue to allow myself to be challenged, overcome hurdles and take on big new projects which I may fear I could never complete, and generally boldly go where no me has ever gone before!