Part 4 of 4
2018 is finally here. If the holidays hardly felt like reflective down time, then the resolution that best serves you as a top priority is to make time (not “find” it) to get clear about what you want this year, what it will take to get it, and how you are going to make it happen.
Think of 2018 as an adventure you are about to navigate. Figure out the destinations first. (You can always add stops along the way.) Consider carefully why these destinations appeal to you. Research them thoroughly. Understand the potential challenges and highlights. Learn what there is to learn.
If you were physically going to go somewhere, you would probably try to understand the culture of that place, for instance, how to say basic things in the native language or what that culture considers polite and impolite, or even illegal. You would check yelp and other rating sites, and read some blogs on these places. You would make sure you knew if there were areas you should avoid or landmarks you need to include.
The first step is getting clear. Then, it’s making a habit of consistently carving out time, no matter how little, to plan out your micro-movements and taking action.
- Emotional Life
One of my teachers has said that if you master this area of your life, you master life. When I thought about that, moments came to mind in which I did not respond thoughtfully to people, but instead reacted out of emotion, and it’s those moments that weigh heavily on me. They suck my energy and cause me to spend time in guilt instead of positive action or creation. This has negatively impacted my health and relationships.
I have heard many teachers say that most of the time we are making decisions from the emotional mind of the 8-year-old version of ourselves, UNLESS we intentionally develop the higher-thinking parts of our mind and create new automatic responses through diligence and practice, just as though your emotions are muscles.
As with most areas of improvement, it starts with awareness. A big, big part of accelerating development in this area, I have learned and continue to practice, is forgiveness. It is so powerful! It’s not just forgiveness of others (even when they are not sorry), but even more importantly for yourself. The worse you make yourself feel, the more you inhibit your emotional development. It’s okay to have negative emotions. Honor them; they are a part of you, and a part of the human experience. The goal is to spend less and less time in a state of upset and be able to gradually improve at being responsive instead of reactive.
These were my emotional goals, anyway. You may have different ones.
Make a list of the positive emotions you want more of and the negative emotions you want less of, leaving several spaces in between for the things in your life that induce those emotions. This makes it easy to understand what to add to your life (or add more of) and what to avoid whenever possible.
Meditating is a practice that can help you remain in a state of calm more often, and further assist you in using the higher parts of your brain for stress stimuli instead of limiting your responses to those of your 8-year-old self.
- Spiritual Life
Most people I know do believe that there is more to this world than just matter. However, I do have agnostics and atheists in my life. I accept that not everyone acknowledges a spiritual component to life. If this is you, I encourage you to dedicate this category to evaluating meaning in your life. Both, spirituality and meaning in life, have been proven to benefit outlook, health, longevity and stave off depression.
Otherwise, you do not have to practice any particular religion or even be clear about what you believe in order to make your spiritual life a bigger influence to the rest of your life.
The most significant transformations that I have seen in my clients was when we had built enough rapport to delve into this area of their lives. It has been the most satisfying part of coaching in the past year, as I developed greater courage to address this area with some clients.
In one such instance, it was the simple acknowledgement that this client once was able to feel the unconditional love of God that he had forgotten with all of the other pressures of life. Once he started remembering and allowing, his striving and stress were relieved. Even his physical symptoms diminished. He made completely different decisions about his career. He landed happily where he never would have expected to land. He achieved a peace of mind he hadn’t had since he was a child.
This didn’t take a lot of time, as it was more about letting go. We tend to pack on layers of protection to guard our most vulnerable parts. In doing so, we create blockages to the flow of giving and receiving.
My challenge to you is to take 30 seconds every day to tune into feelings of gratitude for what is good in your life and to allow yourself to feel love that is not earned by doing or having, just being.
As a level-up challenge, start to affirm that there are forces conspiring to help you, and that you are powerful.
To go even further, you can develop practices, such as Xi Gong, that help you increase your fortitude, which will make problems seem small in the face of your power.
FUN FACT: scientists are half as likely as the general population to believe in a higher power, while doctors are more likely than the general population to believe in a higher power.
- Your Life Vision
Yes, this is kind of like the culmination of all of the categories that we have discussed over the past 4 weeks, but it is also how you re-inspire yourself to maintain good habits, which is necessary for positive momentum toward any of the goals you set.
The practice of imagining the ideal is called visualization. It is scientifically linked to achievement of goals because of its impact on motivation.
The best times to do this are when you first wake up and as you go to sleep. One reason might be obvious – a better start to the day and a better night’s rest. But the other reason is that brain waves are optimal for subconscious learning during these times.
Essentially, you will develop a better outlook on your life, which will make taking action a common sense thing to do.
Which of the 12 areas covered in the last 4 weeks feel the hardest to master?
Which do you want to dive into first, and which one do you want to avoid?
Bring on everything you want in 2018!