“Change is the only constant in life.” Heraclitus
Every year about this time, I reflect on the past 12 months and begin looking forward to the coming year to see what areas I can improve upon in my life. Being the overachiever/perfectionist that I am, I set a New Year’s Resolution and usually stick to it – go gluten free, floss my teeth, be kinder to strangers, train for a marathon, start a gratitude journal. But this year, something doesn’t feel quite right. You see, I’ve made a commitment over the past few years to live in the present moment and better listen to that still small voice within that guides me (note – this is a commitment I’ve made, I didn’t say by any means that I have mastered this – just ask my husband). So the idea of setting a sole New Year’s Resolution simply doesn’t sit right with me this year — how is one supposed to resolve to do one thing for the whole year? Shouldn’t I be reflecting, adjusting and readjusting my goals on a continual basis? After all, life is change. So why would I resolve to do ONE thing for the whole year?
Now please don’t get me wrong, I think having goals are great. An amazing 1979 study of Harvard MBAs shows that 3% of students who wrote down their goals earned a whopping 10 times as much as the other 97% of the class combined ten years later. Goals are important. My point is that we should not be setting goals one time on January 1, but on an on-going basis.
So, as I sat on the couch catching a few minutes of rare TV time the other night pondering how to best handle my New Year’s approach for 2015, I stumbled upon Silver Linings Playbook and decided to watch it for the 20th time. Pat Solitano, played by Bradley Cooper, is a hilarious character suffering from bipolar disorder and mood swings recently released from a mental hospital following the breakup of his marriage. Pat was determined to start fresh and ‘remake himself’ — much like the promise of a NEW YEAR. His motto – EXCELSIOR – symbolized his new attitude in a world full of negativity, failures, addictions, avoidance, and conflict. Pat’s words struck me deeply: “I’m gonna take all this negativity and I’m going to use it as fuel to find a silver lining.”
I found myself looking up the word EXCELSIOR in the dictionary after watching the movie.
Excelsior: adjective, Latin. Ever upward.
That’s it! Excelsior! Good bye one single New Years Resolution. No resolution can be suitable to solve the multitude of problems that I face on any given day. But setting an intention of Excelsior – of finding the silver lining in any clouds that may pass my way – the attitude of ‘Ever Upward’ – that is an intention worth setting as I stay engaged in the present moment. So, here are my three tips for the 2015 New Year:
1) EXPECT RADICAL CHANGE — So here is my best advice this New Year. Ditch the New Year’s resolutions that you’ve done, and done again in the past. These things will keep you caught in the past or worried about the future. While some resolutions are very noble goals to have, New Year’s is a time of change. The other day I saw a Facebook post by writer and guru Gabby Bernstein: “New Year’s is upon us – are you ready for RADICAL CHANGE?” It struck me because I’m really not sure that I was ready for radical change – I’m a creature of habit and the word ‘change’ is not always welcome in my life! But isn’t that the point? To grow, to get better, to wake up, to see things differently? Think big! Go deeper. Ask yourself – what in your HEART do you know you needs to change for you this year?
2) START A JOURNAL – Even if you only write in it three minutes a day, write down on a daily basis what is on your mind that day. Make it a practice to write down three things you’re grateful for, followed by anything that might be bothering you or excites you. Journaling is an amazing way to get in touch with that inner GPS guidance system that we all have. It will help you get clear on goals and elicit real change in your life.
3) EXCELSIOR!! – Ever upward. ALWAYS look for the silver lining. There will always be negativity in life here on Earth– I don’t care if you’re rich, poor, young, old, whatever nationality or religion…everyone has a different set of struggles, and if you focus on the negativity, it can be toxic. So this New Year of 2015, set your mantra as Excelsior, despite whatever obstacles might pop up on a daily basis (or on a moment to moment basis for many of us). WARNING: you will not always see a silver lining in some situations, sometimes it will seem downright impossible. But the key, my friends, is to be willing to cling onto that intention in your heart as Pat did, even when people thought he was crazy (okay maybe he was)…but be willing to try anyway, and remember that “if clouds are blocking the sun, there will ALWAYS be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying.”
Happy New Year my friends! Excelsior!!!
Also by Jen: 3 Tips for Surrendering What No Longer Serves You
Photos: Axel Bührmann via Flickr; Flood G. via Flickr