It's another new year and, with that, naturally comes a time of looking forward and making changes and resolutions for the year ahead. Whether we would normally do this formally (as in writing down something like the "top 3 things to accomplish this year" or, as I do on the 1st of January each year, "101 goals and dreams for this year") or informally ("uh-oh, it's midnight on New Year's Eve, I'm about to kiss someone, what do I wish for?"), it is a good time to take stock of where we are and where we want to go. There are a few different categories of making shifts and changes:
1) to start (getting up earlier, taking a course, ...)
2) not to do ever again (smoking, for example)
3) to do more of (time with family, exercise, laughter, ...)
4) to do less of (late nights at work, not enough sleep, ...)
5) to do better (to get organized, to upgrade a skill, ...)
6) to have more of (money, love, friends, ...)
and even 7) to have less of (clutter, for example).
Think of what you might want in any or each of these categories, in all the parts of your life that are important to you. What are those for you, anyway? If you know, go straight to the changes you would like to see. If you don't know, perhaps the first step is to clarify what areas are important to you: health, financial success, contributing to a worthy cause, family, learning new skills, relationships, travel, ...? Where are you in balance and where could you make some shifts? In life, we are like the string of a violin. When we are stretched to an optimum level with a worthy direction and goals, we play beautiful music. Whether your own string is completely out of tune or just needs a few minor adjustments, you will feel infinitely better when you are at this optimum level.
There is one more category of changes to make: the re-beautification category. It would fit in the "to start" category, but it deserves its own mention. I got reminded of it through watching a simple plant come back to life over the past couple of months.
In the summer, my boyfriend and I discovered an out-of-life aloe vera plant at my boyfriend's home. He simply forgot to water it for a while. I think we do the same thing with many things in life. Most often we do this with relationships, personal or professional. Someone is in our life, we know they are there but we sort of forget to water the relationship for a while. And, just like the plant, they wither away until we find the relationship dead in the corner.
When we found the plant, we figured that it was beyond rescuing, but we tried anyway. We poured water on it. And then again a while later, and then again, and then again. To our surprise, we had the little aloe vera that could. And it did. We kept up the care and, oddly enough, the plant now looks healthier and stronger than it ever did before it got forgotten.
Do you have anything like that in your life that you may have forgotten to water for a while? At the beginning of this new year, take a look around you. Are there any friends, colleagues, family members, customers, cars, equipment, dark corners in your home, or any other things that could use some care and attention that they sorely need to survive? If so, make it part of your New Year's resolutions for this year to see what you can do re-beautify these areas of your life. You cannot underestimate the effect this may have. You may have heard that one happy customer may tell a couple of people of their happy experience and that an unhappy customer may tell eight people. I have also heard of a study which said that, when an unhappy customer's experience got turned around, they would tell up to 80 people! That is just like the revived aloe vera plant looking even better after it almost died. For some reason or another, when we take care to revive what seems to be almost gone, often it will come back better and stronger. Does that mean to artificially make a few mistakes so that we can revive things? No. It does mean, though, that there are probably a few wonderful gems in your own back yard that, as you put a little re-beautification efforts into them, they will pay your work back in spades.
As you read this, your intuition may have brought to the surface a thing or two for you to re-beautify. Or you may have thought of a couple of changes to make in one of the other categories. In either case, take action now. If you can't take any steps immediately, at least jot down what came to mind - and put some dates and commitments down. You'll be glad you did.
Happy goal-setting and have a great, successful and tremendously happy 2003!
"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot."
"I am not interested in the past. I am interested in the future, for that is where I expect to spend the rest of my life."
Charles F Kettering
"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."