What are your aims for 2015?
Today is Boxing Day – a wonderfully relaxing day in our family after the frenzy of end of school, end of activities and Christmas. The two boys are at the cricket, and the two girls (plus dog) are at home, getting ready for a few days away. Despite the cold and wet day, we are looking forward to time together, not rushing, just regrouping.
Christmas Day itself is a time where (amongst present exchanging and cooking) we also are encouraged to pause to give thanks, reflecting on the year we have just had and seeing the good (and at times, challenging) experiences. In doing pausing, this can help in thinking about how we would like next year to shape up.
I have a series of actions, like always – dreams and hopes which I might share at another time – I’m still thinking them through.
But this year, I also have a couple of phrases I am going to try to keep in mind as guiding principles when deciding what I will aim for, and what I can agree to do.
1. Choose discomfort over resentment
This is a mantra that Dr Brené Brown* advocates. For me, this will involve:
- Being clearer on my goals and outcomes, and why they are important. I don’t see this as self centred, but rather a recognition that, in order to function and contribute well, I need to allow time and energy for myself and my family. As a result, I may need to miss out on other worth while things.
- Not allowing myself to feel guilty when I feel I am depriving others – whether my kids need a rest rather than a playdates, for instance, why I can’t contribute to every charity that needs help because we have committed to meaningful contributions to a limited number instead.
- Being aware, if I am helping others, that it really is helpful. It is easy to step over the line into control, ‘I know best’ – and then get upset that they haven’t implemented my brilliant solutions, for instance. Particularly tempting, but not limited to, my children.
- Thinking before committing to assist / take on more project – Can I manage to deliver on these outcomes? What will be sacrificed in the process?
As Dr Brown notes, saying “No, I can’t,” or “I’m sorry, I’m not available,” can feel uncomfortable. But it’s so much better to choose being uncomfortable in a moment, than feeling complete resentment and judgment forever.
2. Learn to be more flexible
While this first principle is important, I think I need a complementary one, in case I become too rigid in my focus. In reality, I know we don’t have complete control over how our futures will roll out (I still struggle with this though).
There are so many reasons why we need to be flexible. We interact with others, who don’t follow a neat pattern book of behaviours and actions. Opportunities we haven’t thought of open up, or close down. We change ourselves – our initial thoughts can seem narrow once we have been exposed to new ideas and opportunities, and we may to adjust our goals accordingly. Things can go wrong which put us out of action for a while.
Therefore, I am looking to balance this goal with a second – to learn to be more comfortable with change. It will not come easy, but there is a risk of missing out on real joy, because it doesn’t fit in my ‘checklist’ for the year.
That’s 2015 for me – how about you?
As I said, there are a number of actions sitting underneath these overall goals. Most of them won’t be easy, and certainly these overall principles will not be. That’s why I am writing them down and sharing them. Hopefully that will add some accountability for me.
How about you? Have you started to think about 2015 yet? What are your plans or ideas?
* Dr Brené Brown specialises in understanding and explaining vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. If you haven’t read her work, seen her TED talks, or Oprah interviews (yes, even those!) I’d encourage you to do so – really excellent!