Happy New Year!
I trust you had some time to relax and enjoy yourself in the last half December. I know I did. My wife and I spent the Christmas holiday visiting her family in Pennsylvania and then came back home to Boston where we spent a quiet NYE at home cooking dinner and falling asleep well before midnight. It was perfect.
When January 1 hit my focus and attention quickly turned towards work, goals, projects, and everything I want to accomplish in 2015. This promptly caused me to feel stressed out and overwhelmed, then I got distracted and starting surfing the web, then I got angry at myself for not being able to get anything done. This was pretty much how I spent a good part of the day which resulted in not getting any work done and feeling like a total failure. I was stuck in that vicious cycle of Overwhelm > Distraction > Self Loathing > Repeat. Here is what I did to break the cycle.
Creating A Theme For Your Year
A theme is a high-level view for your year. It is a helpful way to organize your thoughts and actions as you sit down to clarify your plan for yourself this year. One way to create a theme is to ask yourself, "What do you want your year to be about?" or you can fill in the blank in this sentence, "I want this year to be the year of _____________".
My theme for this year is to make 2015 the Year of Appreciation. I landed on this theme after realizing how much of my life I take for granted. During my last coaching call of 2014 with my coach, we spent time reflecting on what I accomplished this year and it dawned on me how little I appreciate my life as it is and what I have accomplished. Instead, my default is to focus on what I don't have and why my life doesn't look a certain way.
I don't consider myself a negative person and I know the power of keeping a positive mindset but yet I still viewed my life from a lack perspective. However I deluded myself into thinking that this lack perspective was nothing more than me pushing myself to be better and do better, which is what I should be doing, right? Sort of like the Marine's slogan, "the beatings will stop once morale improves." The problem with this mindset of being tough on yourself is that it is a vicious cycle where you never feel good enough about anything you actually accomplish which results in you actually missing out on all the good in your life, which is what you are ironically trying to create more of in order to enjoy.
As I listed my accomplishments of 2014, such as, starting a great new job and starting my coaching business I began to see how ridiculous it is for me not to honor these major wins. And by allowing myself to feel good about what I had accomplished I was able to move on to the next step of my journey with more confidence and clarity.
To support my intention of making this the year of appreciation I have also created some guiding principles:
1. Whenever I feel stressed, lost, or overwhelmed I will ask myself this question, "What can I appreciate about this moment right now?
2. Be present and be grateful.
3. Do less.
4. Keep things simple.
5. Focus on one thing at a time.
6. Take small consistent steps.
7. Don't compare yourself to others.
Feeling Calm, Centered, And Focused
This theme and the guiding principles have provided me with a structure that I can lean on and look towards for guidance and clarity as I move into 2015. Yes, I still have a lot I want to do but I'm only going to think about the next step. What is your theme for 2015?