I have no tax advice for you. Nothing you should do to your lawn before the next season hits. Nor do I have anything to say about your frequent flier miles or doctor visits and insurance deductibles.
I DO however, have three must-do’s that will help you walk into a new year with more energy, peace, and hope.
REPAIR a Relationship
Nobody is perfect. Maybe there is someone you are on the outs with or someone who is holding a grudge against you. There is no better time than the present to address it. Think of the possibilities of a new year without the stress or aggravation of this energy drain.
Perhaps there is such a relationship, but a heart to heart is just not possible. In that case, forgiveness is the only option. Whether you can speak to the person about it or not, work on forgiving what they did to you. If they are mad about something you did, forgive them for withholding their friendship, love, or approval of you.
People behave within the limits of their own growth and experience. Forgive and move on.
Do it for yourself, not for them.
PURGE Unnecessary Things
It would be nice if we had the time to stop everything and de-clutter our homes and offices. But, assuming you don’t have that kind of time, the mandate here is to shed a few BIG physical items that have been in your way for longer than they should be.
Are you walking by a lean-to of unused golf clubs at the garage door? Do you have a closet full of clothes you don’t wear? Is your desk a mess?
Choose one big mess and clear it out.
Why bother? It’s one less thing to trip you up. It’s one more opportunity to see clearly.
PLAN Something Important Way In Advance
Have you ever dreamed of taking a month off? Taking a particular trip? Seeing a particular relative or friend or enjoying a holiday in a particular way but you’ve never gotten around to making it happen?
Well, that stops right now.
I once managed to take the entire month of August off. It took me a year and a half of advanced planning to make it happen. I blocked it out in the calendar, told people who relied on me for work that I’d be unavailable and made the plans to be in Vermont for a month with my family. One of the best things we’ve ever done without a doubt.
What can you do? Stop making excuses. Don’t worry about not having the money or time for whatever it is you’d like to do. Put it in the calendar way in advance and MAKE IT HAPPEN.
These three steps will help you to make the present more pleasant, usher in a new year with some clarity, and have something great to look forward to.
Enjoy the holiday season!
At this time of year gratitude and thankfulness are everywhere. So I have been reflecting on how gratitude serves us, particularly when times are tough.
Gratitude in times of Transition
Transition and change, whether they are wanted or not, are uncomfortable and challenging. They rock our world and throw us into unfamiliar and even more uncertain than usual territory. Recently having gone through a big move, I’ve had a chance to feel this earth-shattering reality, even though I was making a change I very much wanted.
One of the things that kept me grounded throughout the ups and downs of house buying and selling was my daily gratitude practice. Why? Because at times when I was irrationally terrified, it balanced my perspective with a look at the things that were at least all right in my daily life. It offset the natural human tendency to look at what’s wrong or anticipate the next disaster that might be lurking just around the corner.
When I was filled with excitement, joy, and eager anticipation, gratitude helped me to celebrate and take that in. As much as we have a tendency to notice the “negative,” we also often seem to be conditioned to downplay or dismiss “positive” moments. The pause of appreciative reflection allows us to take in and enjoy these happy moments.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is about noticing things we appreciate and coming into relationship with what IS. Sometimes we can even be grateful for fear, anger, or sadness because they reveal something to me that needs to be seen – they uncover a layer of reality. Gratitude isn’t always about sunshine and rainbows! It also isn’t about jumping over sad, angry or fearful feelings to get to a place of feeling good or looking for the silver lining. But, it can help open us to see beyond what’s right in front of us that may feel all-consuming.
How Can Gratitude Support Me?
So, how might gratitude support you if you are going through a transition? If you’ve recently lost a job or a relationship, and you’re not sure what lies ahead, it might be tough to see or feel anything positive. But if you were to take a few moments each day to find even the smallest thing to appreciate, it could shift not only your view of life but how you show up in life, to your family, and to the world at large (including to people you might be interviewing with or asking for support).
Research has shown that people who practice gratitude are healthier, have more optimism and happiness, create stronger relationships, and are more generous. These sound like traits of someone I’d want to be around (or hire!) … how about you?
What IS a Gratitude Practice?
What’s a gratitude practice look like? Whatever you want it to! The key is to not make it a big “to do” or one more thing to add to your list of tasks to complete. Find a way to bring in gratitude that feels supportive and nourishing for you. Different things work for different people. The first step is to slow down enough to even make the inquiry and notice what am I grateful for? If you’re not in the habit of thinking this way or asking yourself that question, it may take a while to shift from your regularly programmed thinking.
Here are some ideas to get you started. Maybe upon waking you reflect on a few things you are grateful for before you even get out of bed; this is a beautiful way to start your day and can really influence how you approach whatever is before you. You might want to keep a gratitude journal and jot down things you appreciate throughout the day. Perhaps what works for you is an evening reflection before bed. It’s a soothing bedtime routine and a great counter to the all too common thought that often creeps in that says “That day was a waste.” or “Wow, what a horrible day I had!” It doesn’t matter whether you write, mentally note, or speak out loud your gratitude as long as you’ve taken some time to notice and acknowledge it.
Even on some of my most horrible days, I’ve been able to find things that I am truly, honestly grateful for – the cleansing tears that allowed my broken heart to crack open a little bit more and relieved me of having to hold it together; having a pillow to scream into and punch when my anger consumed me; loud music and a good car scream; the friend who made me laugh even when I wanted to cry or the friend who simply sat with me and let me feel what I was feeling.
Don’t know where to get started? How about appreciating having clean air to breathe, fresh running water to drink, sunshine, a roof over your head, a fresh idea, or the beauty of birdsong. Don’t force it. Begin with what feels true to you. Notice something you truly do appreciate. Then mentally reflect, write it, draw it, paint it, sing it, share it with a loved one… whatever works for you!
If you’d like some practices to support you in cultivating gratitude, you might visit Greater Good In Action, where you will find several simple meditations and exercises to get you started or to enhance an existing practice.
Have fun exploring how gratitude might support you. Please let us know what you discover!!
They want you! They need you! They tell you that no one can do the job but you! Boy, does that feel good. But somewhere deep down, you know it’s nothing you truly want a part of, even if they are saying everything you want to hear.
I work with people who are hatching their next career and many, many times the old/current job comes calling. It’s an easy way out of the hard work of finding the next gig, but should you go back?
How do you know if you’re being falsely seduced or if it’s a true opportunity?
Check Your Ego – Some flattery is obvious, but not all. You have to be honest with yourself and be aware of how the seducer is playing into your insecurities and needs. If part of your reason for leaving was feeling unappreciated and all of a sudden that need is getting stroked, you have to realize that it may not last once you go back.
Check Your Gut – Your Ego and Your Gut (intuition) are not the same animal. Your gut is more truthful and sensitive. However, when your ego is being courted and promised a panacea, the gut can be harder to hear. If the offer feels ‘icky’ (a very scientific term) in any way, take pause. What are your fears? What do you know wholeheartedly to be true despite what is being promised?
Make Your Demands – Even if it’s just as an exercise to decide whether to go back, if you’re considering it at all, make a list of what you need to feel good about it. Is it more money? Is it certain changes to your job description? Is it particular treatment, access to a certain person, or communication from a certain person? Looking at these answers may bring to light why you wanted to leave in the first place; then you can ask whether you can get what you clearly know you need.
Run or Suit Up – I’m working with a female executive right now who agreed to go back and together, we made the list of her demands. She is “suited up” and prepared to put firm boundaries in place so that her new requirements stick. It is dangerously easy for you or others to slip into old patterns because everyone is used to the precedents that were set in the past.
Retraining people on what you will and will not do and what they can expect is hard and takes discipline and consistency. It can be done, and this executive will give it some time and see if a positive change is possible.
If you know it just won’t work or be worth it, then RUN. Get away from that seduction like an antelope would run from a hungry lion.
If it’s a fight you can’t win, save yourself now. There’s no point delaying the inevitable. Know you will find the next thing and it WILL BE better.