The first thing I want to say is … Happy New Year Everyone! It’s great to be back among my favourite writers, photographers and poets, and I’m looking forward to a wonderful year of reading, learning and growing along with all of you.
Like everyone else, I feel a certain excitement at the start of every new cycle, and the seemingly blank canvas of the year ahead feels full of promise and charged with potential. With the many resolutions I want to keep, and the experiences that I would love to have, I feel it wise to constantly remind myself that success in achieving my goals depends on some very significant factors. I’d like to share them with you in my first post of 2013 since they might possibly serve you well when you pause to evaluate your progress during certain intervals in the months to come.
Significant Factor 1: To have love, you must BE love. What we are asking for in others, we are really asking of ourselves.
Are you looking to improve certain relationships in your life? Significant Factor 1 reminds you that when you make your mental (or written) list of the characteristics that you’d like to see in your spouse, children, friends, parents, colleagues or neighbours, you absolutely must ask yourself if you possess these characteristics. Whatever love means to you; if you want to be heard, if you need more respect, if you crave recognition, if you want to be valued … you need to ask yourself first if you are all these things to yourself. Do you listen to the call of your spirit, or rather to the external harsh voices of the world? Do you trust the voice of your soul when it urges you to take a certain path, or do you listen to the dogma of society? Do you follow your instincts or cheat on yourself by using human logic? If we want others to be true to us, we have to first be true to ourselves. We have to recognize the fullness of who we are and listen to what it is that we truly want in life.
When it comes to other people, do you display the love that you want them to show you? Do you hear what it is that will make them happy in life, or do you force your own ideas of good living on them? Do you hear your children when they tell you that they do not want to follow a certain path that you have chosen for them just because you never got the opportunity to follow your passion? Do you give your spouse the freedom to follow their dreams, to be who they truly are, or do you expect them to pander to your needs? Are you respectful of your work team? Do you know what is in their hearts? Do you know what drives them, or are you only interested in what drives you? Do you view them as human capital rather than human beings?
To bring a greater degree of love into our lives, to heal our relationships with others, we have to look inwards first. Until we do that, nothing will change.
Significant Factor 2: If you don’t own your ideas, they own you.
Having trouble with that diet? Can’t give up the cigarettes? You still kick the dog for no good reason? In making a resolution to change, we are choosing a new way of life, a better way to be in the world. To do this effectively, we have to change our ideas; in other words, we need to see ourselves and others in a completely different light.
When we have trouble sticking to our resolutions, it means that we have tried to change who we are without changing the way that we think. Our thoughts govern our attitudes and behaviours, and when we stay with the same old way of viewing life and ourselves, we end up falling off the healthy-change wagon that we started out on.
Unhealthy habits translate into unhealthy thoughts, and before we make resolutions, we have to ask ourselves if we are prepared to examine our thoughts and look for the unhealthy patterns in them. When you consistently eat unhealthy food, what unhealthy ideas about yourself do you constantly digest? Do you secretly feel that being attractive is dangerous in some way? Will being healthy mean that it will lead to a change in your circumstances? Will it mean you’ll be eligible for that job that will take you across the world? When we fall off the wagon, we have to ask ourselves what the pay-off for doing so is. It’s the only way we get to the root of why we keep disappointing ourselves.
When you are engaged in habitual smoking, drinking, gambling, over-exercising, obsessive blogging etc., what thoughts are you trying to avoid? Sticking to a new healthy lifestyle means facing whatever thoughts arise and dealing with them. Perhaps it’s time do something about your failing marriage. Perhaps it’s time to let go of our adult children and let them move on with their own lives. Maybe we need to acknowledge that we hate our highly-paid job and that we need to take time out to do that voluntary work in Africa that we’ve always yearned for. Unless you are willing to face the consequences of your lifestyle change, you are bound to fall off the wagon.
Significant Factor 3: It’s not time to make a change.
Have you resolved to sell your home and move to another city? Do you intend to find a new job? Is this the year you’ll marry and settle down? I’ve learned the hard way, that sometimes, as hard as I try to make certain things happen (and I’m the type to pull out every stop), Life has other plans for me. Through my efforts to manifest a goal, I’ve learned many important lessons, and although the intended outcome did not occur, my actions were not in vain. Life has taught me that I cannot know what is best for me, and that all I can do is trust that I will always be in the right place at the right time. Though it doesn’t often feel like it at the time, hindsight always proves Life right.
So folks, these are the factors that I bear in mind when I make my resolutions. I hope they’ll have some meaning for you too. I wish you the best of luck in improving your lives this year. I hope 2013 will be a great one for you!