This is traditionally the time of year when people take a pause to reflect, reset and renew. It is a time for new year’s resolutions, a time when hope springs eternal about the potential and possibility of the new.
And small wonder. In the Northern Hemisphere, December equinox marks the time of the shortest day and the longest night. It was a physical reminder of the intrinsic change of seasons, and a time when nature manifested the age old dance between darkness and light. For our ancestors, light needed to be called back, and with it, the promise of spring and a new burst of life. The way Scandinavians keep candles burning and Americans love their Christmas lights is only the most recent manifestation of a very old tradition.
Winter has always been the time we’ve told stories, dreamed by the fire, imagined the new. No wonder it is the time many of us take to vision what the new year could be like. This year I’ve been co-hosting an online event called IMAGINE 2019 with colleagues Holger Scholz and Amy Lenzo. Over the course of eight days people from 31 countries have been creating their best year yet together. It has been fun, challenging and often, deeply moving. And there are a few things I’ve seen in this process that are good reminders for moving forward boldly and well.
Learn how to embody a resourceful state. Everything begins with feeling resourced and resourceful. Even when you are facing challenges, being in a resourceful state means you can be curious, open, flexible and therefore more adaptable to whatever is emerging. It is simple to do, the challenge is to keep practicing so it becomes second nature.
Keep focusing on the gifts of harvest. Taking regular time to reflect on the journey and make sense and meaning of what you are learning means you can pick up gifts along the way. Sometimes life moves on like a grade 5 river and in order to stay in the raft, you just have to keep paddling. Every so often it pays to pull into the bank, have a look and take a breath. You might be amazed what you’ve achieved.
Keep honing your purpose. We invited our circle to create a purpose statement using five words and then to add images and movement to it in order to get traction. It can be easy to get stuck on “getting it right” when each statement is really only an iteration for this moment. So often in life, you look back and see how all the pieces have blended together to create where you are now. Purposing is a continual process.
Review your story and be open to the next chapter. So often we can feel like we’re either living in or living out someone else’s story. It’s time to really dig into your story and see it in a different light. As part of this exercise, we were met at the crossroad and given input into how the story unfolds from here. Often, at a crossroad you need to give up something to get something else. What needs to be left behind now and what needs to be taken up for you to move forward boldly?
Invite allies and work consciously with them. Most often we think of allies as people — maybe family, friends, or colleagues. But we can also learn from historical or literary figures, concepts like servant leadership or compassion or find inspiration and help in nature. It is becoming more and more apparent in our world that we are better together. It is no longer time to be the lone wolf or try to do everything alone. Who — or what — would help you be more grounded and at the same time, more expansive?
Focus on just the first step. So many people can see the end they want to reach, but have no idea how to get there. What is the first step, the “step close in”, as the poet David Whyte calls it? And what is your deep sense about this step? As part of our work, we asked people to find a placeholder for their goal and play with proximity, listening deeply to their feelings about that goal as they moved around it. The body is a marvellous partner in the work of visioning.
Find ways to fuel your fire. Most of us start off with a burst of enthusiasm, but then we can’t sustain it when the going gets tough or we get distracted by life. This makes practice important. What are your personal practices? What will you put in place to make sure you stay focused on what really matters? We asked our circle to make commitments around what they would stop doing, keep doing and start doing.
The power of endings and beginnings. Whether we recognise it or not, we are constantly in the state of saying goodbye to something in order to say hello to something else. Sometimes that can feel easy, like when you move on to your dream job. Sometimes that can be incredibly challenging, as in the death of a parent or the end of a treasured experience. Learning to flow with endings and beginnings — and to celebrate, recognise and honour them — is an important life skill. It is possible to deeply love something and be detached at the same time, to know when to hold on and when to let go. The key is discernment. Discernment, like intuition, is something to actively enhance and embrace as a close partner in your work and life.
It’s never too late to begin your best year yet — all you need to do is begin.
All the tools you need for your best year yet are part of IMAGINE and are available for the first three months of each year. Go to www.becoming-u.com for details & to register.