Thursday, December 21, 2000

The Power of Silence

It's December and Jersey and I are once again able to walk in the woods. There's snow on the ground and the sun is out for the first time in weeks as we walk the creek that flows by our house on its way to the Manistee River. Walking in the woods is something the dog and I generally do every day. But we've been away from it for over two weeks as we waited the passing of firearm deer season here in Northern Michigan. Now that we're walking again, I'm noticing the silence more acutely and appreciating it more fully.

Silence is so much more than lack of sound. In fact there is sound on our walks. We can hear the creek, birds, feet crunching on the snow and the wind in the trees. But as I continue to walk in this “natural silence,” I notice my heart rate decreasing, my steps slowing and ultimately my thoughts ceasing. I am again finding the internal silence that comes from a dumping of thoughts and concerns. At the same time, I'm feeling more full; full of potential, full of awareness, full of appreciation, clarity, focus, purpose and full of options and choice.

Many people feel uncomfortable with silence and are tempted to fill it. And heading in to this busy holiday season, we will all tolerate way too much noise. Studies have proven that daily silence improves a person's wellness both physically and emotionally. So the first step is to develop an appreciation for the grace that comes from silence.


“Silence is the true friend that never betrays.” ~Confucius

“Some people talk because they think sound is more manageable than silence.” ~Margaret Halsey

“Don't speak unless you can improve on the silence.” ~Spanish Proverb

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

“Silence is more musical than any song.” ~Christina Rossetti

“There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place in silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub.” ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

“True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. ~William Penn

“Silence is the mother of truth.” ~Disraeli


Intentionally set aside moments of stillness and silence each day. Here are my top five suggestions.

  1. Observe nature. Choose to observe anything in nature, a tree, a stream, a lake, the clouds, wind in the trees or even the night sky. Fall in to the soothing repetition of nature and notice the changes in your body, especially your breathing.
  2. Turn it off. Turn off the TV, radio, computer, even the lights. Sit in the stillness.
  3. Mediate. There are numerous ways to meditate. Find the way that best fits you.
  4. Breathe deeply. Breathe from your abdomen. Breathe with an inward focus.
  5. Find time each day to be alone uninterrupted. I've read that we become most like the five people we spend the most time with. One of those people had better be you.


See you in 2001. May you experience a wealth of silence now and in the year to come. Love, Deb

Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Community

Community inspires me. I've just returned from the International Coach Federation conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. This year 1200 coaches attended. I was overwhelmed by the sense of community within such a diverse and large group of individuals. And that's the point. Community honors and encourages diversity.

We've all heard how important networking is to our personal and professional lives. But networking has always left me feeling like something is missing. Networking, while an opportunity, feels like an opportunity to prove or show. It has that expectation of a benefit. Networking is about what I do. I find a resistance to promote myself in networking situations.

To me, community goes a little deeper. Community is an opportunity to be. It's more about who I am. It's more authentic and opens up conversation and dialogue that is not present in a networking situation. Community gives me permission to more fully express myself, make mistakes and learn from them. Once the element of community has been established, then a safe place is created to celebrate my diversity. We enter community because we choose to do more to enrich our lives. It's just more fun when you play within community.


“The promise of dialogue is that a small group of people might do something that impacts the world.” ~William Isaacs

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved—loved for ourselves or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” ~Victor Hugo

“If they could only take me as I am.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.
Encourage me, and I may not forget you.”
~William A. Ward

“About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won't like you at all.” ~Rita Mae Brown

Thursday, October 05, 2000

Balance

Here in the Northern Hemisphere we just experienced the autumnal equinox. The dictionary defines autumn as that time of full maturity. Equinox is a time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator, making night and day of approximately equal length. It's the time of year when we have as much light as we have dark—a perfect balance.

Autumn is a great time to reflect on balance. In nature, growth turns inward in the fall. And for us, we have the added conditioning of spending years returning to school in the fall. Perhaps too, it's the seriousness of our farmer roots; that time to harvest and feast as each day seems less bright than the day before.  

When we try to achieve balance in our external world, that balance is fragile. One external event in our life, even a small event, can tip the scales. We can't easily control what comes our way. And trying to control external events is frustrating and distorts our life. 

So balance must come from within. How do you achieve internal balance? By acting deliberately and in full awareness, by stilling your body and mind.

Here are ten ways you might achieve inner balance:  

1. Express your boundaries. Learn communication skills if necessary.

2. Become fit in mind and body. Without fitness our body and mind are noisy. Fitness brings stillness.

3. Be fully present. The present is where things happen.

4. Eliminate judgment. Judgment of others is external. It moves us away from being fully present.

5. Have faith. With faith, we are more able to keep our attention on the present and less apt to judge.

6. Know what's true for you. Express YOUR truth and act deliberately.

7. Get your needs met. When your needs are not met, external forces affect you.

8. Honor your values. When your activities are not congruent with your values, you are stressed.

9. Rest. Take your time.

10. Listen to your inner voice. You can only be great when you honor your intuition.


“You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen. But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul's own doing.” ~Marie Carmichael Stopes


“Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” ~ Guillaume Apollinaire

Thursday, September 28, 2000

Values

Last month I wrote about Needs, that getting something you wanted often depended on getting a need met first. Needs are emotional or physical hungers that drive us and often create behavior that is not in our best interest. When our needs are not met, we can become very confused about what it is we really want.

This month I’d like to talk about Values. Values are the things in our lives that create pure delight. Once we have identified our needs and developed a structure to get them fully met in healthy ways, the fun comes in identifying our values and reorienting our lives around them.

Unmet needs trip us up; unmet values pull us forward. Your values define “who” you are. When you get to the “who,” your goals, the “what,” and your strategies, the “how,” are no-brainers. When you are confronted with an activity, compare it to your values. If you can't immediately find the value that supports the activity, let it go.

For instance, one of my values is simplicity. If it's simple or I can make it simple, you can count me in! If it's not, I generally don't play. Another one of my values is adventure. If an activity is both simple and adventurous, I'm in heaven. I know that no matter what the activity is, it fits two of my core values and is worth my time and energy.

Each of us has 5 to 10 core values that make us feel most alive. When you know what your values are, you naturally set goals that are you and, therefore, easier to reach. You'll also reject goals that you thought you might have wanted. Knowing they don't fit your values will make it obvious these goals were set based on a need or an outside influence.

Getting your needs met will change you, living your values will evolve you. You can transform fantasies into realities by remaining true to your values.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You never find yourself until you face the truth.” ~Pearl Bailey

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” ~Rumi

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.” ~Margaret Young

“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

“Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.” ~Shakti Gawain

“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other peoples’ models, learn to be ourselves, and allow our natural channel to open.” ~Shakti Gawain

What I want for you is to be ruthless about centering your life around your values and enjoying the process. Yes, work on getting your needs met if you haven't yet, but don't wait to identify your values. It's just too much fun!


Just For Fun
The Top 10 Enduring Principles of Crazy Wisdom
For coaches, people, and pets weary of straightline thinking.
1. Never trust absolute statements.
2. To be or not to be! That's the answer…So what's the question?
3. Leave a legacy for mankind. Know nothing for 60 seconds.
4. If grace has touched you with the capacity to utter 3 useful things in sequence, perhaps it is time to take a break.
5. Be careful in not taking moderation to extremes.
6. If you find yourself on the road to enlightenment…STOP. You've gone too far.
7. At final auction, your personality will sell for far less than you've paid for it.
8. When you discover a Master who points the Way…don’t just do something. Stand there.
9. Whatever it is, - it will pass.
10. The validity of the above principles expires at the end of this sentence.

This piece was originally submitted to the CoachU Knowledge Base by William Sebrans, Executive, Business, and Personal Coach who can be reached at william@wisefools.com.

Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Wants and Needs

Most of us have a desire to do better in our relationships, personal health, finances, etc. Yet we can't seem to get past the “want.” Sometimes it takes a few questions to get to what coaches call the “need.”

Let's say you want to build financial reserves in your life yet you can't seem to get motivated enough to make saving a habit. There is more truth in that part of you that is unwilling to take the action to start saving than in that part of you that says saving is a priority. If you start asking yourself why saving is a priority, you might say because you want to feel safe. Another why and you might discover that you are feeling unsafe because your job is unrewarding. The third why might lead to the answer that work is unrewarding because your manager doesn't acknowledge how much you produce. Then the need is acknowledgment from those you work with. Ask for it. The process is not always this simple, but it always works.

When your head expresses a “want” that you are unwilling to follow, there is truth in the unwillingness. You know there's something else here to look at.” Delve deeper and ask why. All our wants can be effortless. If they are not, just take care of some needs first.

Now, if you want to get to the need faster, move your body. I'm not asking you to exercise or take up a sport. Just go for a walk, ride a bike, swim or dance around the house. In the process of asking yourself “why,” you'll get to the heart of the matter much faster if your body is allowed to move.


“There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.” ~Herman Hesse

“If you don't ask why this? often enough, somebody will ask why you?” ~Tom Hirshfield

“All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.” ~James Grover Thurber
“It always comes back to the same necessity: go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard.” ~May Sarton

“Look and you will find it—what is unsought will go undetected.” ~Sophocles

“I learn by going where I have to go.” ~Theodore Roethke


Start with something simple that you have been saying you wanted to achieve for some time. Introduce movement of some sort and start asking “why?”

Friday, July 14, 2000

Play

Last Monday morning was a little difficult. I got up, let the dog out, and started preparing for a doctor's appointment 125 miles south of here. The weather was overcast, windy and threatening rain, and I was not looking forward to the drive. While I was getting out of the shower, I was overpowered by a familiar scent every dog owner dreads. Yup, skunk. Direct hit! I reached for my handy bottle of Skunk Off and met the dog, looking very humbled, on the front porch. A bottle of Skunk Off later, Jersey smelled only slightly better and I seemed to be picking up the odor. No amount of perfume was going to cover me up. I was now running late, still not dressed, and hadn't even had time to consider breakfast or coffee. I could take another shower and be exceptionally late or take my chances. The impending weather left me with no hope that I was going to be able to make the drive with the car windows wide open. Yes, there was no doubt I was going to be the topic of discussion at the doctor's office today. In the hierarchy of bad Monday mornings, this one was still trying to come up for air. I was about to sit down and wallow in my own stink when the phone rang.

Ask me to go fishing and I’ll drop anything and everything I'm supposed to be doing. At the last minute, I rescheduled a doctor's appointment I had waited several months to get to fish smallmouth bass on Grand Traverse Bay. Okay, I can hear the groans from those of you who know me well; “Oh no, she's going to talk about fishing again!” And, “What's she doing fishing for bass, her least favorite fish.” But as the bumper sticker says, “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.” Okay, that out of my system, what I really want to talk about is play.

When I cried “Uncle!” last Monday and decided to play it was not because I was feeling good. But out of that decision, two extraordinary things happened to me.

I was spontaneous. One of the benefits of my acting spontaneously is that I gained a different perspective on the same old events and an opportunity to explore unfamiliar territory—the present moment. I realized that to enjoy myself whenever possible was an essential part of my spiritual development. Spontaneity was a way for me to quit trying so hard and be more human.

I laughed. It's true, laughter is good medicine. In the last couple of decades there has been medical research that laughter can benefit you physically. It can help you lose weight, reduce blood pressure and heal a host of illnesses. It's impossible to be laughing and tense at the same time. Allowing myself to laugh was a genuine expression of the appreciation I have for my body, mind and spirit. Laughter got me to the absurdity of the situation and opened up that part of me where creativity thrives. I came home with a sense that I could excel at anything.

By the way, after eight hours on the lake, we only caught two fish. It really didn't matter. Instead of feeling bad, I was being “bad” and feeling much, much better.


“Given the choice between a folly and a sacrament, one should always choose the folly—because we know a sacrament will not bring us closer to God and there's always a chance a folly will.” ~Erasmus

“Life should be lived as play.” ~Plato

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity.” ~Carl Jung

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~Plato

“Play is the beginning of knowledge.” ~George Dorsey

“God writes a lot of comedy. The trouble is he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny.” ~Garrison Keillor


It's easy to play when you're feeling good and free. So I'm not going to challenge you to just play more. I'm asking you to notice the next time you're trying too hard. You may be physically trying hard to complete a task or you may be just trying too hard to put a positive spin on a bad situation. At the point that you notice, stop what you're doing and introduce play.

Saturday, June 03, 2000

Nature

I grew up a child of the woods. I never really washed myself clean (except maybe in swim class). I excelled at catching turtles and frogs and throwing moss and swamp scum at my friends. I took for granted nature and all its lessons.

It was only after I grew up and met so many other adults who did not “take to the wilds” that I realized that extracting oneself from nature, while giving the illusion of possessing more control, tends to leave a person a little off.

Now, wilderness for me is an instant transfusion. The ground is grounding. A lake, river or stream puts me in flow. I feel most alive when I'm not in charge, when I'm pitched from the canoe, slip and slide down a muddy trail, get drenched in a torrential downpour, or get windblown on an island. To me, the outdoors is immediate and inescapable, a little fearful. It stirs me up.

Look out from an untouched lake, a bluff, a waterfall or a canyon and my “issues” seem small. It always seems a little surprising to find that after a personal upheaval of the mind or heart, everything in nature continues exactly the same, authentic. You are never so still as when you see a deer, never so elated as when you crest a peak and view the vista, never so alive as when you hear a wolf howl or a loon call, never so entertained as when you watch an otter or the northern lights.

Nature is authentic. It is exactly what it seems to be.


“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~John Muir

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein

“A man is related to all nature.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nature teaches more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral.” ~John Burroughs


Start small with a swim in the ocean or a lake or a walk in a state park. Throw some friggin’ moss. Get your hands dirty. Stink.

Sunday, May 28, 2000

Fears, Beliefs and Risk

Once I believed I could not write. I know exactly where that came from, my fifth-grade teacher and a college composition instructor. They held such authority that later I discounted any good comments I received about my writing. I came to believe that I would never write for pleasure or work. Then I reached the point last year where I wanted to write this newsletter. Not because I wanted to become a writer, but because I wanted to share my thoughts with you. I went through all kinds of physical trauma trying to get the first newsletter out. I was confronting an old belief with a new desire. What was safe about not achieving my goal? Well, I’d never again have to face criticism about my writing. Fortunately, my want and some good coaching got me to the point where I'm able to stick my neck out and take this risk to share with you. Whew!

What are you afraid of? Many of my clients tell me they want to work less, make more money, have more time for their family, play more, pursue hobbies and passions, build a business, write that book, and take better care of themselves. They tell me that they are not accomplishing these things because they have not learned the right skills. Usually it's about how to better manage time or people. In my case, I believed I didn't have the skill to write. I ask them, “What's safe about not achieving the goal?”

Remember how fearless we were when we were very young? Your beliefs are the combination of people, circumstances and events that have had an effect on your life. What you believe today is often a combination of what you heard from mom, dad, teachers, friends, the media and events in your life. And consciously or unconsciously, your beliefs affect your behavior. So if you want something, but can't seem to attain it, before you decide it's about time, circumstances or learning a new skill, check in with your body and see if there is some stress around what you say you want. If so, then you are probably confronting a belief. That's good! You're in for a change.

When our beliefs get in the way of not going after what we want, we relinquish our power, we become a victim. Acknowledging our own power can be a risk. But without risk, growth just does not occur, as we have no opportunity to shatter old beliefs. To step outside of a belief is to take a risk. And to take a risk is to change your life. As Julia Cameron writes in her book, The Artist's Way, “We have all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living, but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining.”

“All fear that exists is really a fear of change.” ~Deepak Chopra

“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.” ~Agnes De Mille

“We cannot escape fear. We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures. . . . Take a risk a day—one small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you have done it.” ~Susan Jeffers

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.” ~Les Brown


Take one old belief and then put yourself in a creative activity outside of your self-image. Make it playful and allow yourself to be imperfect. Start small. Combine it with something you are good at.

Monday, April 10, 2000

Lists

My friend David, a coach from Denver, demonstrates that it's more about what you've done than what you didn't do.

For most of us, lists are a part of our daily activities. Sometimes it's a new list and sometimes we're just adding to the list we created the day before. It's very satisfying, I admit, to cross things off a list. It's darn right joyful if it's a big item! But how much pain did we go through seeing items on our list day after day until they are accomplished?

Think about it. With each new day, our accomplishments get removed, crossed out, axed, tossed and what we did not get done gets to stay on the list. And often we think of things to put on the list faster than we can cross off those items we have accomplished. When the paper gets full, we transfer those things we have not accomplished to a clean sheet that gives us room to add to the list. All this, I propose, is a little backwards. We seem to be giving greater attention to what we did not get done than what we did get done.

So, a couple of years ago I threw away all my lists and gave up the idea of starting new ones (although I do admit to relying on a computer check list I keep to pack for a canoe/fishing/camping trip. I’ll never again forget the rain suit on a 10-day paddling trip). Giving up lists was very freeing. I recovered a greater sense of faith that I would do, on any particular day, exactly what needed to be done without having to control it with a list. I also became trustful that those “big items” would not be forgotten.

But I like the way David takes his faith to the next level. David does create lists. But each day he creates his SDE (Significant Daily Events) list. What go on David's list are only those things he has accomplished that day. So David is creating a list of things he has accomplished during or at the end of his day rather than a list of things to do at the beginning of his day. He includes everything that is significant to him. Thus play and work are a healthy mix on his list. He may create a list that acknowledges dinner with family, a walk, several coaching conversations, catching up on emails, making several business calls and lunch with an old friend. At the end of the day, David can reflect on all the has accomplished. David says, “I have gained such perspective with the SDE concept. I am doing more daily stuff of value.”


“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time” ~AndrĂ© Gide

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious” ~Albert Einstein

“Adventures don't begin until you get into the forest. That first step is an act of faith.” ~Mickey Hart


Today, throw away all your list. Relinquish control and surrender to the fact that you know, on any particular day, what needs to be done.

Take it one step further and create a Significant Daily Events list. Acknowledge how much you have accomplished!

Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Walking The Dog

I've been a little preoccupied as I just had some minor surgery. But apparently major enough that I lost about a week. First I tried sitting down and writing anything. Not much came out. Then I took to talking out loud to myself. This was better. At least I was expressing. But I was still stuck. Finally, as a last resort, I began talking to the dog. “So Jersey,” I said, “what should we (I always use “we” when talking to the dog) write about this month?” “I don't know,” she said, “but let's got for a walk.” Remembering that I had neglected our walks since the surgery, we went. The next day, I once again said, “Jersey, what should we write about?” “I don't know,” she said, “but let's go for a walk.” I obliged. One day later, was no different. I had written nothing, but we walked. On our Friday walk I began to notice that while I had not yet written a thing, I was feeling better about it. By the end of our walk on Saturday, I felt good and didn't care that I had written nothing. On Sunday, when I started writing, the topic became clear.

The Top Ten Reasons to Take Your Dog for a Walk

1. As Jersey says, “It blows the stink off.”
Jersey means it a little more literally than I do but I did notice that as I was getting more and more worried about writing, I was beginning to smell.

2. It keeps you putting one foot in front of the other.
If it's true that movement creates momentum and momentum creates flow, then putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how mindless, is literally the first step in movement and towards flow.

3. It's a moving meditation.
While my body was doing all the work, my mind was allowed to wander in directions it needed to go and finally become silent.

4. It's cheaper than therapy.
The dog's a great listener.

5. Your body will look and feel better.
If an improved cardiovascular system isn't enough incentive, think about your legs and butt in shorts and swim suits this upcoming summer season.

6. You'll notice things only your dog can point out.
Jersey's hearing and sense of smell are far superior to mine. I've come to rely on her to point out wildlife I would have normally walked right by.

7. In Northern Michigan one of the first signs of spring is the open sign at the Dairy Queen.
The hot fudge sundae you'll now be tempted to stop for seems little more justified.

8. After a long winter, dogs, like the rest of us, are a little testy.
A daily walk can save you repair bills on furniture, boots and shoes, and anything else you dog uses to cure her winter blues. Jersey's personal favorite is playing “keep away” with my $200 hiking boots.

9. If you've been walking your dog regularly all winter, spring yard clean up is a little easier.

10. By developing a strong bond with your dog, she may one day share the importance of turning around three times before lying down.

“It's impossible to walk rapidly and be unhappy.” ~Dr. Howard Murphy

“Most of the obstacles would melt away if instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” ~Orison Swett Marden

“Walking is man's best medicine.” ~Hippocrates

“Walking is also an ambulation of mind.” ~Gretel Ehrlich

"If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience."
~Woodrow Wilson

Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Do you have a hard time saying No? Many of us do. So what do we do instead?

  • We say Yes and then beat ourselves up for being weak.

  • We say Yes and resent the individual we said yes to.

  • We say Yes and then don't do what we committed to and feel guilty or even create reasons why it was okay to not honor our commitment

  • We say Yes and then complete the task we committed to with less than our best effort because we didn't really have the time to make the commitment in the first place.

  • So why do we do it? For most of us, saying no is contrary to what we have been taught. It's not polite to say no, even if saying yes is damaging to us.

    I learned to say no by trusting my gut. When I am asked to commit to do something, I asked myself how it would feel to say yes. A heaviness or uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach keys me into the fact that I really want to say no and I used that opportunity/feeling to bow out of the situation.

    And here's the interesting thing, once I started saying no more often, I found myself giving more and doing more for others. But this time the giving was with less effort, less emotion and more joy.


    “A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.” ~Groucho Marx

    “Drawing on my fine command of language, I said no.” ~Unknown


    Say “No” to at least one request of you each day this week. Don't give excuses. How did it feel? What did you do with the time you freed up for yourself?

    Monday, January 03, 2000

    A New Year's Theme

    Well, it's a New Year. What do you really, really want?

    What is your New Year's resolution? Lose weight? Make more money? Spend less? Make more time for your family?

    A resolution says, “here's what I want to change.” It's meant to fix something. It begins with a loss and we are, therefore, forced to focus on what we are missing. Our ego takes over. The resolution is a reminder of our failures because it focuses on what we do not have. We suffer a terrible loss when our resolutions die in mid January.

    But what if you approached your resolution as your playful child would? Ask yourself, “what do I really, really want?” There's a theme there. If you have resolved to lose weight, perhaps your theme is “a healthy life.” If your resolution is to make more money, maybe your theme is “abundance in all you do.” What about spending less? Maybe what you really, really want is “a creative lifestyle.” And more time with your family? Perhaps a theme of “playing hard” (my personal favorite) is more to the point.

    A theme says, “here's what I really, really want.” It's meant to honor something. We focus on what lies ahead. A theme say “play with me.” Our child kicks in. The theme lies not in the completion but in the doing. It focuses on the process and a sense of adventure.


    “Ring out, wild bells, to the wild, wild sky...
    The year is dying in the night...
    Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
    Ring out the old, ring in the new...
    Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
    ~Alfred Lord Tennyson

    “May all your troubles during the coming year be as short as your New Year's resolutions.” ~Anonymous


    Look at your New Year's resolution and ask yourself, “What do I really, really want?” Create a theme that honors your answer and integrate it into everything you do this year.