I don’t make New Year resolutions, because it is so easy to be overtaken by unrealistic enthusiasm! However I do dream about who I want to be in the year ahead, how I want the year to be, and what success looks like to me.
My personal philosophy is to:
- Make the most of myself
- Transform obstacles to happiness and success
- Learn to be nourished and supported by the mysterious beauty of life
1. Make the most of yourself
Everyone has a life-calling, a purpose, but only one third of the population know theirs. (If you don’t know your Calling, come to my workshop on 23rd January: Find What You Love, Love What You Do).
Research1 shows that the population is roughly divided into three categories: people who work just for the money; people who want to achieve something in their career; and people who are really passionate about what they are doing. This third group is the most successful.
My own Life-Calling is “helping people make the most of their lives, starting with myself”.
Expressing your Calling is like a fractal: you can always go deeper. For me, “making the most of my life” in 2016 means buying less into the “stress model” of living and working. Can I increase the organic way that I make things happen, rather than my tried and tested method of sheer guts and determination? I want to spend more time on my essence; the state of being that underlies everything I do. I am already doing more yoga, meditation, dancing, strength training, walking on Hampstead Heath 3 or 4 times a week and prioritising emotionally nourishing time with friends. I want to give this more attention in 2016.
And research suggests that this will make me not only more happy but more successful! The “broaden-and-build” theory of positive emotions2 says that while positive feelings come and go throughout the day, the more we have good feelings, the more we take well-judged risks such as doing new things, communicating with new people or developing new ideas. This not only increases our range of skills, but the number of new opportunities available to us and thus the possibility for success.
This contradicts my old motto of “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and replaces it with, “the happy person is more likely to be successful than the unhappy person”.
I have also planned to spend more time in 2016 on the stuff I really love doing – bringing warm open-hearted presence to people to help them grow. I will have at least four trips to China as well as working in the UK, Spain and Greece; and, as you will discover, I am creating more opportunities to do what I love in 2016.
How can you make the most of yourself in 2016?
2. Transform obstacles into happiness and success
Not only is it good to focus on doing more of what we love, but it can really release a lot of energy to unpick anything in us that stops us from living a life we love more fully.
For me, transforming my obstacles to happiness and success in 2016 is quite simple: I have been too busy in the last few years with my business coaching and foreign travel, and I am really going to cut back for a year on the business work and spend more time doing what I am most passionate about, which is nourishing myself and “blossoming” my Life Talent clients. Every year I look at my work and say “which part of this is most important to me?” and I then focus on that. I don’t like to talk about my spiritual practice very much – my Buddhist master tells me not to – but I want to increasingly protect the time when I get up in the morning for meditation so I don’t need to work until 10am. The whole of the rest of the day benefits from this morning revitalisation.
3. Learn to be nourished and supported by the mysterious beauty of life.
As my friend Steve Gilligan says “Life is great, except when it isn’t”. The second principle, Transforming Obstacles is about when it isn’t. With this third principle we focus on letting ourselves be more nourished by the beauty of life. Activities that increase your wellbeing have a double function: they bring joy just in themselves; and research shows that they also make you more resilient to life’s difficulties3.
A simple way to think about this is to consider 5 categories: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual and time in nature.
- How can I increase my physical well-being?
- Am I taking enough exercise?
- Am I eating nourishing food?4
- Can I relax without drinking? If not, how come?
- Am I sleeping enough?
- How can be kinder, more compassionate and more encouraging towards myself?
- How can I make more of the best of my family, and reduce the aspects that bring me down?
- How can I get more time with the people who make me feel great?
- Do I have a positive attitude and how can I improve it further?
- When I am disappointed, do I turn this into hope for the future?
- Am I kind to myself?
- Do I feel part of something that is bigger than my own self and life?
- What can I do to develop this feeling?
- Do I have a daily practice, and how can I develop it?
Time in nature
- Nature nourishes us emotionally, and gives us a bigger perspective on life. What experiences in nature nourish you? Where do you go? How can you do this more?
The New Year is a great time to put into your calendar activities that will take advantage of the best in you; activities that transform anything that holds you back; and activities that increase well-being.
Who do you want to be in 2016? How do you want to live? Dream on this. Then schedule time for the activities in your calendar – if you put them in your calendar as appointments they are more likely to happen.
I wish you all the best for living your life more fully in 2016!