The Winding Path

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January 2018: Reflection

Posted on Jan 23, 2018

January 2018: Reflection

New year. New you. How often do we hear versions of that throughout the month of January? We are actually self-sabotaging our self-improvement efforts when we force New Year’s resolutions upon ourselves. Primarily because it is the wrong time of year for making big change. In reality, spring and fall are the seasons for change. We set ourselves up for success when we consider when we make change as well as what we want to change.

Instead of resolution, I think January is a better time for reflection. With proper reflection, we can make well-thought-out changes when the time is right. And when we are ready to make change, we will have the resolve to follow through.

January is a good time to reflect back on the past year to consider what went well, what didn’t go well, what could use tweaking, and what needs to be left alone. It’s also an opportunity to let go. Let go of what didn’t work and all the associated emotions. Let go of last year’s disappointments. Focus on what could be better this year.

And we really do have to embrace the serenity prayer as it is commonly known:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

~ Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

When we reflect upon the past year and consider what might be ahead, we do have to acknowledge that there are things that cannot be changed, as well as what kind of courage it will take to embrace change.

And often, we are easily overwhelmed by the thought of making change. We see the effort required, and think we don’t have the energy, time, or motivation. Dig deeper and we might see that we do not believe we are worth the effort to make necessary changes. Sometimes we stay stuck because we are stuck in our thinking or have unrealistic expectations of ourselves or others.

A time of reflection is very necessary to follow through on resolutions. When we resolve to do something, we need to know what is truly achievable at this time. We need to build upon small successes to see a big dream come to fruition. It doesn’t happen with one leap, single decision, or overnight. If we are changing habits, we need to be able to address the thinking that started the bad habit in the first place. Note to self: comfort eating. Am I worth the effort of choosing more effective ways of handling emotions or self-soothing? And maybe I’ll start with reducing how much I eat compulsively rather than omitting all comfort food.

I need to know why I am aiming for change in order to ensure success. If I am making change for someone else’s reasons (i.e. latest fitness or food trend), I won’t be motivated to see it through. It’s not realistic for me to work out a gym, but I can take a 20 minute walk every day. What do I enjoy? What can I enhance? What works with who I am as person? How do I want to live the gift of my life?

That really is the question: how do I want to live the gift of my life? I only get once chance. Do I want to spend the gift of my life to meet the expectations of others? Or do I want to live out the gift of my life honouring the very gift itself? What is the gift of…”me”? Only I am responsible for “me”—what do I want that to look like? How do I want to express what makes me “me”?

So, if I can challenge you this new year, take some time for quiet reflection before making any changes in 2018. Be sure you know what you want to change, what you want to change to, and what it will take to change. And during this quiet time of reflection, make sure to also take note of what went well and what you want to carry forward into 2018.

Only you can be you. This isn’t about adhering to a belief system, living up to standards or expectations, achieving resolutions. This is about knowing who you are. The gift of being you. How can you be “you” this year? Take time for quiet reflection to discover who you “naturally” are, what about your life is consistent with who you are, and what isn’t. Sometimes following someone else’s “good” or “right” is in fact harmful to your very Be-ing. Be sure to ask (and answer — with kindness and compassion) the question, “Who am I?” before resolving to make change this year. You might discover your initial resolutions are not what’s most needed for your Be-ing.

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