We begin again.
This is the beauty, power and promise of a new year – the opportunity to begin again. A fresh start. A blank canvas awaiting our inspired brushstrokes. A chance to deepen our commitment to what really matters to us.
Of course we can do that at any time, on any day, in any month. Yet the newness of a year with a first-ever number, and the spaciousness of a calendar not yet cluttered with too many commitments, creates the perfect opportunity to remind us of the potent opportunity we have to begin again. To resolve to create positive change in our lives.
Ah, resolutions. Over the years we’ve been bombarded with messages about the high failure rate of New Year’s resolutions. Many of us have come to regard them as hollow promises, fun to make but not realistic to keep, and it seems almost inevitable that they’ll get trampled by the relentless demands of everyday life.
And then, when they do, we use that as a good reason to beat ourselves up. We see ourselves as unfocused, undisciplined or unskilled. And so we drop a notch in our self-estimation, which is deflating, and we drift further away from the engaged, fulfilling life we genuinely long to live.
There are ways to set intentions that make it easier for us to honor them – plenty of ways – but I’m not here to give you a set of instructions about that. I’m here to spotlight a fundamental shift you can make so that, if you choose to set fresh intentions in 2017, or renew some old ones, they have a better chance at gaining traction in your life.
The shift I’m talking about is a shift in focus, which creates a shift in momentum. You can focus on all the times you “failed” in carrying out a resolution or honoring an intention. Or you can focus on the persistence of your desire to create positive change. Like the roots of a tree that push heavy slabs of sidewalk concrete skyward, your genuine longings for a healthier, happier and more fulfilled life continue to grow, with the power of Life itself, beneath the surface.
Think about that. Your genuine longings for a healthier, happier and more fulfilled life are powered by Life itself. They don’t wither and die when you get distracted or discouraged. They’re still pulsing within you and looking for any opportunity, large or small, to assert themselves into your awareness.
Let yourself feel the strength, commitment and courage that your longings have. Just because we live in a world that all too often encourages us to accept the impossibility or impracticality of our dreams doesn’t mean that your longings have accepted that.
It’s just the opposite. Your longings arise from a place of deep inner knowing of the Truth of who you are and what is possible for you to create and experience. Their job is to keep nudging you in that direction. And so they do. Practice appreciating them for that. Practice appreciating yourself for that.
When you focus on the persistence of your longings for greater fulfillment, you focus on the very energy and strength that will move you toward that fulfillment. If you keep setting the same intentions or making the same resolutions each year, consider how powerful they must be to keep showing up. Don’t lapse into judgment about how you’ve failed to act on them; lean into the pull they have on you. Feel their encouragement and promise.
There is energy here. There is movement here. There is Life here.
Let yourself be awed by that. As a friend of a friend of mine once said, with great brilliance and simplicity, “Life keeps life-ing.” Your longings, like the roots of a tree, are alive and growing, even when you’re not directly paying attention to them. They keep “life-ing.” When you dopay attention to them – when you reflect on them and dwell in them – you invite their Life into your life.
And with the flow of Life comes new possibilities. You may have missed out on an opportunity in the past to start a particular business or take a different job or join a new exercise program; you may have had your book proposal turned down or gained back half of the weight you lost or failed to meet the partner of your dreams on Match.com. But you haven’t missed out on the opportunity to be happier and more fulfilled. That opportunity is ever-present, even as the specifics of how it will manifest might change.
Your longings know this. That’s why they keep showing up. Pay attention to them. Look in the direction they’re pointing now, not in the direction from which you came.
This is, truly, a fresh moment. There has never been a moment like this one. You are now in 2017, a year you’ve never been in before. Your longings are continuing to push the cement of your rigid assumptions and fears and beliefs about what you can and cannot create out of the way. This is your time.