I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions. They turn out to be a colossal letdown. To think that you will be a different person with different habits when the calendar turns from December 31 to January 1 is setting yourself for disappointment and failure.
Unless you’ve been working on small habits that change behavior over time, you will not be a different person overnight. It is usually the tiny shifts, done over and over, that make the most significant difference.
However, I do a postmortem, or maybe annual review is a better way to put it, around this time of year. I ask myself some deep questions that I will ask you now.
#1. Psychologically, how are you?
How you doin’? I know it’s been one rough year for just about everyone, so think before you answer. No glib responses, but how are you really doing?
I have one friend who is on the go, go, go, even during a pandemic. She has more “friends” than she has time for. She has money and a good job. And a lovely family. She’s always busy. Yet, she is miserable and lonely, even with so many people in her life.
If you can never simply sit and chill alone you might be running from something that sitting alone with your thoughts will hone in on. What thoughts are you running from and how can you change whatever it is that’s bothering you — that you are trying not to face — for the better?
So, are you OK, or are you covering up your not-okay situation with scrolling on social, over-scheduling friends, binging Netflix, breaking your credit card with all that online shopping, or drinking too much?
Are you really OK?
If not, what do you want to do about it in the coming year? Write it out.
What things do you want to change? I find it helpful to make a list.
#2. Are you happy?
OK and happy are two different states of being. This is a different question from number one.
Far too often, people think happiness is a constant state of being; happiness is an emotion. It comes and goes as all emotions do. I like to call it joy. Happiness is finding those little things in life that surprise you with feelings of joy, contentedness, presence, etc. If you have lots of those moments, you are on the right track. But you alone are responsible for bringing those moments into your life. No one else is; we’re all working on our own moments of joy.
Do you experience moments of joy when it is you and your thoughts that aren’t dependent on shopping, binging TV, or stimulants? But pure present joy, at the moment?
Whatever that means for you, but you know it when you feel joy or lightness or warmth.
#3. Are you making vertical growth and not just horizontal
It is fine to be stagnant if you are OK with stagnant. If you are just numbing and static and feeling joy, like, ever, what would propel you forward out of stagnant?
I was stagnant, busy, but not productive for too long. Until I started writing and working toward an online business that could challenge me and support me financially. As corny as it sounds, I have a purpose which fuels my drive.
Whether you are looking for success in your personal relationships, career, or financial situation, ask yourself, have I grown, or am I stuck in the same place unable to make progress?
Ask yourself what you could do at the beginning of this year to set up a habit that will give you what you want one year from now.
It is possible to have a different life one year from now if you have a goal; knowing what you want is the first part. Next, you have to come up with an actionable plan or system to realize that goal.
Make a plan. Like, now. Don’t wait. Write the plan down.
#4. What do you want one year from now?
If you could have the life you want, what would that life look like? Get detailed and specific; you can’t have the life you want if you don’t know what that life looks like.
More than a year ago, I wanted to be a writer who was paid for my words. This platform allowed me to make money and grow an email list while monetizing a blog and writing an e-book. If I hadn’t come up with what I wanted, I wouldn’t have been able to implemented a plan.
My goals for next year are to buy a second home and never get into a car again. OK, I’m exaggerating about the car thing, but not by much.
What the pandemic taught me is that I want to make my life as simple as possible. I have enjoyed not having to drive. Right now, I’m arranging my life so that all the activities that are required to run it are only a walk or bike ride away.
For me, walking is the key to a happy life.
This may sound dramatic, but that is what I want. I’m in the process of making that a reality so that when the pandemic ends, everything in my life will be within four miles of my home in any direction so that I can walk to it or bike to it.
So far, that is true of my work (I work from home). Three of my good friends are within walking distance to my house, my favorite bakery is literally around the corner, my drug store is a bike ride away, my favorite bookstore in town, and my favorite cafes are all less than 2.5 miles from my house. I’m trying to make it a reality for other important areas in my life I have to drive to.
#5. Are you going after what you want?
If yes. Is what you’re going after making your life better? If no, do you really want what you are pursuing?
We all make mistakes. No one is sure of what they want all the time.
I spent a ton of money on a blog last year, hiring someone to build it out. After it was done, and after I had spent money on it, I decided my heart was not in it. I didn’t want to write about what I thought I wanted to write about, so I quit before spending any more time, energy, or money on it.
Hard decision, but so much happier for it.
This was a big deal for me because I rarely change my mind, I usually know what I want to do, and no one likes wasting money.
But it is better to cut something off and chalk it up to a mistake as soon as you know before you waste any more money on it. I could have continued, I could have said, you spent all this money, you must follow through, but I knew that it would eventually fail because my heart wasn’t into the content. So I cut my losses.
We are human. We can change our minds. The most successful people have several failures in their past before any massive success and have a few failures under our belt before we land on what we were meant to pursue.
#6. How is your self-awareness level?
Self-awareness is kind of like when you are a grown-up. You know, those people who take full responsibility for their stress, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. They don’t dump on those around them they love.
Self-awareness comes from self-examination and knowing your inner emotional landscape and triggers.
According to Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., a consultant and expert on well-being technology says,
“In order to self-reflect objectively, we need to quiet our minds and open our hearts, forgiving ourselves for our imperfections and offering ourselves kudos, but only where we deserve them.”
High self-awareness is a reliable predictor of success in life.
Things that increase self-awareness are mindfulness practices (I know, boring) like meditation and walking for long periods alone, being a good listener, journaling, and having the ability to look at yourself objectively.
Having self-awareness is connected to self-esteem, openness with people in your life and can help open your mind to new perspectives and opinions.
What are you doing to be more self-aware?
#7 What do you struggle with?
Are you aware of what you struggle with? Is it anxiety, depression, worry, fear, avoidance?
Most of us have a blind spot to our struggles, keeping us in the dark and reaching for distractions.
- Are you facing yours?
- Are you doing the work to be free of your (fill in the blank)?
It is better to escape our comfort zone and face our fears; this is the path to true presence, joy, and living whole-heartedly. It may be difficult initially, but when you shine a light on what is holding you back, it makes them less powerful.
These are the questions I think about in December every year, so I go into the new year with renewed clarity, reassessing what I need to make my life work for me next.
Because we all change, we change our minds and reevaluate things to make our lives better.
How do you see yourself in the new year?