Out with the old, in with the new…

Happy new 2016.

The good old custom in the West is to make “resolutions” – a series of commitments to honor in the new year: drinking less alcohol, quit smoking, start running, training 3 times a week, loosing weight, starting meditation, you name it… From my own history with good resolutions and what I witnessed among close ones, it’s often hard to fulfill our good intentions because, for instance, they are too many or too demanding. Eventually we may end up with the opposite intention: more overwhelm, discouragement, and less health!

I propose a slightly different take for engaging in the new year: a – to me – less pressurizing  and more empowering approach requiring only 30 min. One thing that all resolutions have in common is a good intent: a desire to improve or achieve something that will make life easier, healthier or more enjoyable. My suggestion is then the following:

  • Set yourself aside in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for about 20-30 min with a pen and two pieces of paper or your journal.
  • Draw a line to divide the first page into two. Take about 10 min to reflect back on what you learned or noticed about yourself this past year and write those “teachings” down. On the left hand side, write positive things: the aptitudes or strengths that you gained or realized. On the right hand side, list things you are not very proud of and could be improved.
    • For example, you may have noticed that your impulse is to entertain yourself every time you’re home alone or standing on line at the grocery store. Or you may have gained some self confidence when you made your first headstand in your yoga class or managed to express your opinion in that challenging talk with your boss.
    • My advice is not to overthink it. Rather, let the pen “flow” on the blank page and trust that doing so will reveal what has been important. Limit 1 lesson per bullet point and respect the 10 min.
    • Put down what you realize with full honesty, even though a slight “yuck” comes up… Be indulgent with yourself; you may not be able to remember everything that you learned about yourself.
    • This small exercise will help you identify patterns that can limit you and are likely to hinder your happiness and well-being.
  • Put that first piece of paper aside and take the second, blank one. Again, draw a line in the middle. Use what you just wrote and select 3 realizations on each side of the middle axis:
    • 3 things that you want to let go of: what does not longer serve you? what do you want to improve? what can you leave in the past year and not bring in the new year?
    • 3 things that you want more of: What are the empowering moments or teachings that you wish stay with you in the new year? Is there a resource you just became clear about that you want to make more room for and grow? Or any quality that you want to develop or foster into the coming weeks and months (such as courage, authentic connections, inner peace, creativity, movement…) ?
    • The list on the first page might be long, but I encourage you to keep the number of items on the second page it to 3 max (for each side of the page). Limiting it to 3 would make it more effective, less stressful, and more achievable.
  • And now the most important: Put the final list somewhere where you can see it several times every day: in your wallet, as your phone wallpaper, on your bedside table, on your fridge…

Enjoy the process and many blessings for the new year!

sunset Esalen


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