As the sun sets on the old and rises on the new, we have the chance to stop, take a breath, and reflect on the year gone by. Maybe have a daydream about what we’d like for our future, and perhaps turn some of those dreams into goals to guide us in the unchartered territory of the new year. How did you feel during the year that has passed? Were you stressed, tired, and burnt out? Or were you peaceful, energised and focused? Did you achieve your goals? Were your goals worth achieving? Were your days meaningful?
We are so often told to embrace every opportunity that comes our way, and to say “YES” to embracing the full life. This message can drown out the quiet wisdom that discernment has to offer us. Sometimes, you have to say “No” to some things, in order to say “Yes” to the truly important things.
It’s hard, because saying “No” can be painful. We experience fear of missing out. We feel guilty for not making the most of opportunities that come our way. However, we all have human limits and can only do so much in each day. Don’t let society make you feel guilty for that. Yes, we might have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce or Einstein, but genius takes time and attention, so use your moments carefully.
If you say “Yes” to everything, you accidentally end up anxious, stressed and sleep-deprived, unable to focus and unable to create something of a standard you can be proud of. It can feel like you’re treading water, struggling to stay afloat whilst in fear of drowning. Instead of this, remember to say “No” and deliberately dedicate your attentions and efforts to doing a couple of things really well. Entrepreneur Derek Siver’s takes this to it’s full implication:
“When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” – then my answer is no.”
This year, I want to create peace and balance in my life so that I can fill each moment with gratitude and purpose, rather than anxiety and rushing. I’m not a huge believer in New Year’s Resolutions, but I find that writing down some goals can help to give direction to your hopes for the future, so here are are some of mine:
1. Be present
Humans have a rare blessing among the animal kingdom and that is the ability to think in temporal terms. We plan for the future, and reflect on the past. However, this can also be a curse. Have you ever lay in bed to go to sleep but suddenly you suddenly start thinking about that presentation due next month, and you’ve got so much work to do on it, and how much you hate public speaking, and what if you mess it up, and before you know it, you’re completely stressed out and panicked about something that is a month away. You’re also missing out on the enjoyment and peace you could be having in the present. Be present in the moment, because it’s all we truly have.
“The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now.”
– Robert G. Ingersoll
Be discerning. Think about whether something truly adds value to your life, or merely adds stress. Choose your commitments wisely. Minimise and declutter your belongings, so that they don’t take up unnecessary space in your life. Simplify your diet by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables rather than processed foods. Do you really need to spend all that time on social media or watching TV? If not, get it out of your life.
Mark Zuckerberg exemplifies this in his wardrobe. When considering why he wears the same grey t shirt everyday he explains:
“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve the community,”
Don’t let the trivialities of life tie you down. Embracing simplicity and minimalism will give you the freedom to focus on what is most important to you.
3. Keep open space in your life
There’s a lot of talk about disposable income around, but not much about disposable time. We should think more about keeping time spare for no particular reason. Maybe you will use it to go for a spontaneous road trip with your mates or maybe you’ll head into the city to wander around whimsically.
When you over commit yourself, you lose this space in your life for spontaneity, unexpected friends and new ideas. Keeping some of your time and energy to follow your feelings leaves you open to this.
I want to be open to this in 2015