New Year possibilities
Welcome to the New Year.
I wonder how you started your new year. I gave up staying up late on New Years eve a long time ago. On 31 December 2012 I started to new ritual which I relish. I watch the sunset on the ocean horizon with my family and go to bed early. I wake to a 4:30am alarm. With my husband I walk to the beach and watch the sunrise, followed by a bracing dip in the ocean. Then it’s back to our holiday chalet for coffee and breakfast.
‘Down under’ it’s summer at this time of year. I love to have the week between Christmas and New Year at the beach. During this time my mantra is “sleep, walk, swim, eat, read, repeat”. There is a large balcony where we stay, and I sit out there surrounded by nature, the ocean glistening in the distance. I have a pile of books nearby, and a journal. It’s a precious and rare time for me when I reflect on the year that is ending and set some intentions for the New Year.
2020 was a bizarre, bleak year for many yet humans are remarkably resilient. Our very survival depends on resilience so most of us are hard wired to hope that the future will be better. When this resilience fails us, we quickly descend into a deep murky place that is the opposite pole to vitality.
I write down things that I’ve loved, learned and lost in the year. In 2020 this included loving 4WD travel and camping in Western Australia, learning about creative practice and how to write a blog (a continuing steep learning curve) and lost or missed overseas travel adventures and hugs from family overseas. A helpful question to ask yourself is “what do I want to take from last year into the new year?” and “what do I want to leave behind”.
Before you quit reading in disgust or dismay because you don’t agree with “new year’s resolutions” I promise this post is not about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. I encourage you to ponder the possibility that your intentions might be about editing your life to do less, rather than more. Focusing on what really matters to you.
Daniel Pink in his book “When, The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” shares fascinating insight into how timing affects our thinking and actions – whether we are aware of it or not. And if insanity is doing the same things over again and expecting a different result then why not be open to doing the New Year differently. If you think the middle of January is too late and you have missed the boat, think again. I use January to do brain dumps and mind maps with the goal of having my ‘intentions list” specific and ready to action by February 1st. After all, at that point there is still 11 months to achieve said intentions.
Last year I read Turia Pitt’s biography “Unmasked”. Towards the end of her account of overcoming horrendous burns and facing death on multiple occasions she writes about goals and says they should not be a “to do list” rather we benefit by setting “stretch goals” that take us outside our comfort zone. This resonated with me, and on a subconscious level has helped me set goals around writing.
Here’s a story I love to share re writing intentions (or goals or achievements) down. When our children were growing up, I encouraged them to write down goals and the pieces of paper I handed out each New Year’s Eve where met with groans in their teenage years. I’d find them blank, lying on their bedroom floor weeks later. Nevertheless, something sunk in. Our eldest daughter, having completed her university degree said to me “Mum, I am going to take a gap year and travel around Australia AND I’ve written it down”. I took that as code for “I am really determined about this, so don’t try to dissuade me”. And sure enough she did. No small feat for a woman in her early 20’s driving and living out of a two-wheel drive Kia van, working odd jobs to buy fuel and food.
This year I read Robin Sharma’s book “The 5AM Club” which is about the benefits of rising early and using the first hour of the day to move, reflect and grow. A radical habit if you are not by nature a lark. Research indicates that 40% of everyday life is shaped by habits. Robin says that it takes 66 days to create a habit or automaticity as he calls it. Others reference 56 days as the number. I’m aiming for 70 because it’s a lovely number and just to be certain.
Look at it this way, if you don’t establish any intentions or new habits at the end of 2021 not much will have changed, which is OK if you’re full of vitality and supremely happy in your current state. On the other hand, if you decide on a new habit you would love to acquire, write down some specifics about it, and action it daily what’s the worst that can eventuate? And the best, you are on an accelerated path to fulfilment and well-being.
Wishing you the very best today and throughout the entire year,