The new year is a traditional time of the year that we evaluate our prior years activities and lifestyle and make goals and plans for a better year ahead. But statistics show, that no matter how well intentioned and excited we are to achieve our newly developed resolutions, that only 8% of us achieve the goals that we have set. It’s no wonder that many people feel hopeless to achieve significant change in our lives.
The ironic part of change is that it is constantly going on. And another irony in the paradigm of life is that since change, the very thing we hope for, is constantly happening, that we spend most of our time trying to stop the changes in our lives as they come to us. So it could be said that in general we have a hard time initiating the changes we want and an even harder time stopping the changes we don’t want.
Since change is a constant in our lives, perhaps the trick to making change our friend is to understand the reason why we don’t want things and balance those with why we do want things and see if we are working against ourselves with our “don’t wants” to suppress our “do wants.” This year, instead of adding a bunch of new goals that you feel challenged to achieve, look at the changes you resist now to see if you can find a way to allow those changes to work in your favor.
Here is an example. Mark has heard rumors that his company could be downsizing this year. Although he feels good about his work and his feedback from management is good, the area that he works in might be an area that the company could dissolve or restructure. Mark’s solution to this potential change is to work harder and longer to help make his contributions more notable. Mark starts putting in about another 10 hours a week at work. He hopes this is enough to ensure his job. In the meantime, Mark’s young teen son is having trouble at school. Mark cannot attend his son’s soccer practices anymore because of his work and their time together is spent in friction instead of companionship, as in the past. Needless to say, this new arrangement puts additional pressure on Mark’s wife, who understands Mark’s need to work more, but nonetheless has a hard time not being irritable in the evening due to the increased responsibility she has to attend to the house and their teenage son’s troubles.
Does Mark’s plan work? Even if Mark gets to keep his job, the answer is no. Giving up things you DO want, (family time, peace, etc.) to avoid things you DON’T WANT (job loss, financial fear, etc), will always leave you feeling unsatisfied, frustrated, or stressed. So what is the alternative?
Instead of trying to ward off what we “think” might happen by making a significant change to avoid it, we strengthen and build the things in our life that are empowering and fulfilling, and that make us happy. By giving attention to the changes that we “don’t” want in our lives, we are taking away the things we could be doing that we “do” want. In Mark’s case, you cannot live your life from fear and anxiety. The choices you make from those two mindsets will almost always be wrong, or at least uncomfortable. However, you can easily live your life from a mindset of peace and certainty by living within the space of allowance to what is and what will be.
So how do we do it? How do we create the new you this year that serves your “do” wants and dissolves your “don’t” wants? You begin by embracing change, because no matter what, change is our method to expand, grow, and learn. Celebrate the ways things are right now, despite whether you believe right now is not the best situation, but stop trying to resist it and just allow it. It is within this allowance that new ideas, creativity, and new perspectives become known. Reacting to a resistance of what is almost always nets us results that are unsatisfying or unsettling. Furthermore, manipulating conditions to what we fear might be coming in the future, also produces results that are constricting, uncomfortable and sometimes have dire results to what is going on around us. If you MUST assume, then assume the best, which is so different from what we typically do right now.
Life is about thriving, not surviving. Live each moment fully, allow life to unfold, trusting that you have the wisdom and the skills to shape your life in the way that you want. Not out of fear or desperation, but out of growth and expanded knowledge. Start small, making every day OK as it is. Take every day as the new opportunity it is. Feel good and do things that make you feel good. Share with others, Give back. Try something new. Spend time alone in meditation, contemplation or prayer. Adding a few of these ideas into your new year will help you make this year the best ever and you will feel like a new you and the end of it.