With a fresh new year and beginning in front of us, I’m constantly reminded of the remarkable resilience we have to recover, re-form, reinstate and recommit our best intentions and loftiest goals.
And I’m also reminded, every year at this time, by so many of my readers, of how the same questions arise, year after year, many of them heartbreaking and touching but oh, so familiar.
Whether the resolution is focused on how to lose weight or keep things neater or save more money or get sober, they cover everything, big and small. What all of these wants share is a desire for change. What they also often have in common is a source rooted in a hunger to achieve an honestly needed adjustment driven by an unrealized, often fuzzy dream of who we want to be or how we imagine things could be versus the way things really are.
See yourself in any of these?
“I started out so great and then, pow, three weeks into my new gym membership, even though I was determined to finally lose those elusive last ten pounds, the thought of getting up another dark morning at 5 AM was just too much and I turned off the alarm and turned over. What’s wrong with me?”
“Why can’t I stick to anything I say I will? I’m a loser. I never finish anything I start.”
“I’ve gone to rehab twice in the past three years. Each time, I was truly grateful to get another chance. The first time, I was sober for five months, until my girlfriend left me and then I blew it. The second time I stayed dry a whole year, but when my Dad died, I couldn’t hold it together any more.”
We’re human, imperfect, and while our intentions may be absolutely for all the right reasons, life has an ironic and often cruel way of getting in the way of the best made plans for ourselves.
So here’s a different way to go about making real changes in your life. It’s actually quite simple. But simple does not mean easy. It requires honesty, clarity, simplification and discipline. And that other essential ingredient, patience.
It’s a progression, a growth, an understanding of how each of the five steps builds upon the last, similar to the steady, slow and thoughtful footholds that can bring you safely up the side of a mountain.
STEP ONE – VALUES
What matters most to you? What people, what values, what qualities without which you could not live or imagine being happy or content?
Make a Short List of those things – between ten and fifteen at the most. Things you’d give your life to protect and honor. Things such as freedom, peace, safety, love, good health, hope, passion, creativity, honesty, imagination, faith, etc.
Clear the decks, let go of the past year, what’s done is done, learn from it and move on – in other words, get over it and yourself. Enter the new one armed with only this fresh, challenging but doable, clear list of things worth living and dying for. When you have your Short List firmly in place and you are ready to start Playing with a Full Deck™ on your Inner Bottom Line, only then will it will be time for you to move forward towards real change with Step Two.
Next time, next year, the next column will offer you just that. Step Two: Choices.
Until then, Happy New Year!
The Inner Bottom Line is found in the national edition of www.examiner.com and at www.theinnerbottomline.com.
Olive Gallagher is a life coach, ethicist, and national speaker and columnist, and has a private practice specializing in stress, boundaries, transition and choices. She also recently became an Oregon Real Estate Broker with Keller Williams Realty Professionals.
You can submit your questions and ethical dilemmas or book consulting appointments and private coaching sessions with Olive at www.theinnerbottomline.com.
Hard cover, Kindle and audio versions of Olive’s book, The Nude Ethicist: A Simple Path to The Good Life™, are now available on amazon.com.