Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Now that the Christmas, Old Year/New Year's hype has passed, let's get down to real business. The last year, 2020, derailed many plans, goals, objectives and also unleashed uncertainty, unease, and fear into the lives of many across the globe. The new year, likewise, seems to be heading down the same path. But with all the upheavals, come great opportunities for growth, if we only recognize them as such - one being personal. Do you bury your head in the sand and continue pretend that is business as usual? Or do you make the necessary adjustments to ensure that your mind, body, and spirit are whole?
Sometimes, we find ourselves being reluctant to make changes in our lives because we have become accustomed to our own routines and depend on them for our own mental and emotional stability and support. Other times, we refuse to do so because of our egos - how will I look to those around me or how will I feel? But if we are truly honest with ourselves, we innately know when things are just not working out. Are you willing to consider two questions that may cause you to think about doing things differently this year? If so, please read on.
How does this add value to my life? Many of us are active contributors to the vicious cycle of acquiring things we do not need, getting involved in projects or with people we do not care for, or aligning ourselves with beliefs and practices that do not serve us. I can openly admit to: craving the pleasurable high of acquiring stuff - though temporary, to the feeling of importance and fulfillment by being associated with some new project - though fleeting and superficial, and to the need of belonging to a community - while still feeling misaligned and misunderstood. When I looked around at everything I acquired, assessed those projects I gave my time to, and critiqued the people (individuals and groups) I gave full access to, I felt the pangs of frustration, anger, and downright disappointment welling up inside. What I avoided doing was the only sane thing I needed to do. So I gave away unneeded stuff (and felt happy for it), withdrew from projects and persons that did not align with my core values (and felt relieved about it), and let go of practices and beliefs that I no longer supported (and felt free because it).
This year, choose quality over quantity. Less is more sometimes. Neither things nor people can fulfill. But purpose does. So before you sign on the dotted line, or before align yourself with anything or anyone, assess the value that it brings to your life. You may find that it was all about satisfying the ego or just an emotional crutch. If it is, then let it go and keep moving. Choose the things and persons that bring richness, meaning, and deep satisfaction to your very soul. And why not? You really only have now - the present moment. If all you had was $50 to your name and had to choose between a week's supply of food or a blockbuster movie, which option would you choose - survival or entertainment? If you had to choose between an honest, loyal friend and one who only cares about having a good time, which option would you choose - integrity or fun? Your answers determine what you value the most. So make the wisest decision for you but choose what gives you the best return on all your energies and priorities.
How does worrying help me? With all the uncertainties and stresses of life, it is quite normal to feel helpless, and consequently, worried. Being concerned about one's affairs and finding solutions is simply part of the daily grind. But the feeling of loss of control over one's life situations can be quite daunting. Consequently, some of us, take worrying to another level. The type of worrying I am referring to is marked by deep, trance-like conversations with ourselves (silently or not), where all fatalistic and cataclysmic scenarios and outcomes take the center stage. For some, it ends here - at this stage of rumination and overthinking. For others, however, it continues on to panic/anxiety attacks or even deep depression. But whatever part of the spectrum you find yourself on, did worrying ever change the situation or even the outcome? The act of needless worrying, is itself such a self-defeating and futile exercise, that your time would be better spent being of service to others and get out of your own head for once. The act of giving to those less fortunate can help to reorient your focus on gratitude and thankfulness for what you do have in the present.
Resist the urge to craft negative stories about your future or to sell yourself pessimistic outcomes. Your only responsibility and focus is the present moment. Learn the lessons that each situation brings and move forward in wisdom. The way you spend each moment is a deposit into, or a withdrawal from, your personal long-term growth account. If you are making plans for sound future outcomes, then you need to deposit only positive growth-yielding actions each day. Worrying is counterproductive and therefore depletes your emotional, mental, and physical account balance. It is a recurring deduction that never returns what it took. That also means that you lose out on the interest payments of peace, health, joy, and personal development you would have earned. Do not rob your mind of the peace it so desperately needs. A healthy mind does wonders for the body. What one thinks on influences how one feels (not just about a situation but about himself/herself). So make a conscious effort this year to watch your thoughts and your emotions. Find out whether they are serving you well or are contributing to your sense of helplessness, insecurity, and vulnerability.
The choice, and therefore, the power, are all yours. Choose hope and optimism. But do not sit idly by and refuse to do the work your future is demanding of you now. Be fully present and actively work at being a better version of yourself - just for you and no one else. Your thoughts and your actions are the only things you can really control. Free your mind of self-defeating affirmations of negativity and doubt, and embrace your full potential as creator of your own destiny. That work belongs to you and only you. It is never easy but it is fully worth it. So as you think about your futures, remember - choose the things and persons that bring value to your life, and be intentional with actions that only bring growth.
Here's to value and growth in 2021.