The clock strikes, the ball drops and the champagne pops. Another new year is here.
To many, the New Year means a clean slate. A reset. A fresh start to living the life we want to live. We double-down on the magic of this clean slate with resolutions to be healthier, nicer and better people.
Unfortunately, most of these resolutions are broken as quickly as they are made. We come to realize that the advancement of time isn’t magic after all. Despite the different date we write on our checks, we’re still the same person living the same life with the same challenges and fears.
It’s true that you will be the same person after the clock strikes 12 on January 1st, but that’s great news! You’ll have challenges and fears as you would any year, but this year, realize that the world needs you!
Realize you have a gift that no one else has. The key to an amazing 2017 and beyond is finding and sharing that gift. This journey requires the best of your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self. Not perfection—just your best.
Here are five ways to reset and revitalize your body, heart, mind and soul for your mission to connect with your best self.
1. Actively practice compassion.
The ability to practice compassion has been linked to great reported levels of personal happiness and fulfillment. As with exercise, however, the great the challenge you place this "muscle" under, the greater the payoff.
Can you feel compassion for those who have wronged you in some way? Can you feel compassion for those you disagree with? Can you feel compassion for someone, simply because they are human, whether enemy or friend? These may be some of the toughest “workouts” your compassion muscle will undergo in life. Are you up for the challenge?
2. Stop being busy. Start being purposeful.
Busy is a badge for those who lack purpose. Ironically, we celebrate this notion of “doing lots of stuff constantly” in our society. But how is this paying off? How much of this endless “stuff” are we actually doing well?
Just like last year, the New Year is going to bring the same demands from every direction. This year, however, take a moment and define a purpose behind everything you do. Consider it a personal mission statement. How does what you do every day at home, at work, in your social life and beyond align with your true values and beliefs?
As humans, we are natural seekers of purpose. If we don’t take time to define what that purpose is, we scratch that itch with “busy.” Busy is frantic; purpose is directed. “Busy” allows personal energy investments in the trivial and obscure. “Purpose” focuses personal energy investments in the essential and relevant.
Take a moment and write down five to 10 words you would want on your epitaph some day. How does what you do, say, dream and share with others on a daily basis reflect these words? Use these as a guide to beat busy with a life of purpose.
3. Define the barriers you set for yourself.
There are so many “external” things in life that can challenge our ability to thrive. However, it’s important to be aware of the barriers we create ourselves that stand in the way of our journey to find and share our gift.
- We want to wake up with energy, but stay up late the night before watching television.
- We want to be more positive, but surround ourselves with negative people.
- We resolve to exercise and eat better, but create unrealistic expectations for adherence, which makes failure inevitable.
- We want to feel fulfilled, but we fill our free time with meaningless activities.
The list goes on and on.
It’s important to be honest with ourselves in defining these barriers so we can break them. This process isn’t easy though. We’ve allowed and supported the self- imposed barriers in our lives because it’s easier than taking action. They provide a quick and easy “out” when things don’t go right. However, we are purpose-seekers by nature. When our actions align with our purpose, we’re happier, more fulfilled and energized.
If you want to take steps to break down the barriers in your life, start with considering why you would want to do this. Who could you become? Is that important to you? Is it essential? What if you fail to live in alignment with the person you want to be remembered as?
Start with one barrier at a time, and focus on a mission of personal change for 90 days.
4. Stop running from stress.
By definition, stress is our response to change. We think we’ve nailed the algorithm of certainty and predictability and then BAM! Something throws a monkey wrench in our equation.
We’ve been told that stress will kill us, so we run and hide from the challenges that are novel and unpredictable.
Research, however, has found that the negative effect of “stress” in our lives is dependent upon our perception. If you spend your time hiding from it, stress is like a predator that will hunt you down and kill you.
However, if you find purposeful challenge, as in a sense of competition, with new, novel and often-uncertain things in your life, you will still display a physiological stress response, but it won’t negatively impact your health.
Stress is a natural, often unpleasant physiological response to change. It is also necessary for growth in any area of life. Consider your most prized accomplishments. These probably carried a load of expectation, novelty, problem solving and uncertainty. You adjusted and expanded your capacity and output to meet these demands, and now you’re a better person for it.
Challenge equals growth. Grow this year!
When children play, they spark creativity, stimulate the relationship between the brain and body, and learn valuable social lessons. Research suggests the same thing happens with adults.
When was the last time you did something physical just because it was fun? How did your body, mind and soul feel? Adult play takes on many forms and we need it to keep our brains growing and innovating.
• Play hide-and-seek with your kids.
• Put a NERF basketball hoop in your office.
• Play catch.
• Join an adult sports league, preferably with an unfamiliar sport.
• Seek out a reason to laugh.
The “play” space in our brain appears to be where we come up with the most creative, innovative ideas and solutions to problems. It’s where we breed compassion and understanding for others. Adding this to our lives may require scheduling it, or merely allowing it. It’s NOT a poor use of time. It’s a powerful life-hack that gets us in touch with our best selves quickly.
The New Year brings a lot of opportunity for the unique, powerful and impactful person that is YOU. To make this year extraordinary, begin by resetting and revitalizing your mind, body and soul. Dedicate your renewed energy and commitment to share your gift with the world.