Part 2 of 4
If you celebrate Christmas, this next week will be hectic. As you lay your head to rest, instead of visions of sugarplums (whatever they are,) you might see all the things not yet done – presents not bought or wrapped, recipes not yet altered to accommodate Cousin Joe’s lactose intolerance. You might spend your time going through a mental checklist of people wondering or feeling like there was someone important you missed.
If we took a page from nature, however, as the first day of winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, we would see more stillness – an incubation (at least we do here in the Northeast). Even nature knows there is a time to rest and reflect, a time to renew and plan for what kind of rebirth is wanted or needed.
This can also be the most active time of the year to be together, and being together is what we try to remind ourselves this time of year is all about.
We’ll take a look at three more areas of your life to reflect upon and recreate for 2018, starting with the one that takes a lot of focus this time of year, even as we naturally crave seclusion.
- Social Life
Once I started digging into the personal and professional development world, there was an advice that really bugged me, and it continues to, even though at times I think it is sound. The advice has been regurgitated in various forms. Jim Rohn, who I quote a lot and love many of his teachings, says that you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. Other teachers flat out preach that you need to leave negative people behind you and fill your inner circle with more positive, wealthy people if you want to get or stay positive and wealthy.
When I was in college I had heard that your network is your net worth, and that was so discouraging. There was some family who were (are) wealthy and prominent, but they had proven to be not very helpful, and that was the only existing route I could see to elevate myself.
I was grateful to find, as a recruiter when I started to network more, that new connections can be made, and fairly easily.
That being said, I wasn’t about to leave behind my friends. Yes, I wanted to spend more time around people who followed a path to success that I aspired to follow, but I couldn’t just cut off from my life the people who care about me, though they may not be successful, wealthy, or even positive.
The whole personal development world is now plagued by people who are aspiring to be ascended in higher thought and living, but who create a contrast between themselves and others less ascended. I see this only leading to disdain.
There are some obvious reflections you might have: did you see your loved ones enough? Did you entertain as much as you could have? Are you losing connections to friends you intend to keep?
But also consider that if you can spend more time with successful people and add to your knowledge and inspiration, the time you spend with less successful people will enable you to add something positive. Just stay mindful so that you don’t fall into a superiority trap.
As you start to see a better way to be and live, it’s natural to notice more how the people who are not living better are choosing that, and to be frustrated by it. If you really want to change it, though, you will not be effective from a place of judgment. Once you achieve a better way of living for yourself, the next thing to work on is how you can accept others where they are. And, sometimes you will also see opportunities to set healthy limits for how much you let others keep you down.
- Intellectual Life
As my senior business students shared their goals, it was clear to me that they were putting the accountability on their development in the hands of their future employer. Does it belong there? Is every employer going to care where you want to see yourself in 5 years as it does NOT relate to their company? I am tying intellectual life to develop because there is a strong correlation between new knowledge and development. Can we effectively grow without gaining new knowledge?
Anecdotally in my own life, I started to see my development accelerate exponentially in my 20s when I did three things – hired a coach, started to network (as stated before), and started reading non-fiction habitually. Then in my 30s it seemed clear that I didn’t just want to read, but I wanted to discuss with others what I had been reading. I had forgotten in my 20s how much I missed discussing ideas, as was encouraged and came naturally in college. I started attending more lectures and meetups, and even started my own mastermind and meetup.
I have to admit that when I’m really busy, reading and discussing are what I cut out, but because I made them such habits and enjoyed such a boost of growth from them, I go back to them as soon as the dust settles.
It’s the best time of year to develop your reading wish list, since you may even receive one as a gift. Ask others what to read based on your goals or resolutions for 2018. People only recommend books they have read, so make a note of who recommended what and invite that person to discuss the book once your done. This helps you create a goal for finishing the book and also nurtures your social goals.
It seems this should be higher up the list, right? The thing is, if money isn’t the area of your life that vexes you the most, it could be this. If this is true for you, it may seem more logical to survive the holidays and then reflect, which can look more like venting. We can do better than that, though, and starting to achieve peace in this area by doing what is in your power to do (because we can only control our actions, not those of others) will enable you to start the year more as the person you want to be. We can’t pretend a new year will change you, but if you can demonstrate to yourself what you are capable of in this area during the time of year where the expectations are highest, you will feel more empowered to create an even better vision of your family life in 2018.
(I know very few people who can’t relate to this. If you are one of them, count yourself so blessed!)
Some of what I have learned about myself in relation to my family through my personal development has to do with me NOT wanting to feel bad and the lengths I go to not feel bad, which can include making my family wrong to make me feel right. Once I realize I am doing this, I feel worse, but only then can I start to course correct and forgive myself and them – which is very powerful.
There is one mantra that I hear a lot at personal development events that helps me maintain my sense of humility and acceptance of myself and others – “We are all doing the best we can with what, where and who we are at each stage of our lives.”
If you are feeling extra stressed this holiday season and the source is your family, watch some Brené Brown interviews on YouTube. Practice ho’oponopono, which is a Hawaiian practice that induces healing and forgiveness.
Notice that my advice in this area is actually more around action than reflection; this is because I feel I personally spend too long reflecting in this area, and not spending enough time actually making efforts that can improve it, which take practice because this is the area where triggers are voluminous. This also means that this is the area where there is the most opportunity for growth, but where growth is the hardest.
Which of the 6 areas covered so far feel the hardest to you? Which do you want to dive into first, and which one do you want to avoid?
We’ll cover 3 more areas next week.
Cheers to a year that is better than any before!
Music video by Sting performing Brand New Day. (C) 1999 A&M Records