It’s a new year, and if you’re like me, it’s time to reflect how our choices have changed us during the last twelve months. Time to evaluate our motivations to realign our purpose with our actions.
It is part of human nature to want to feel purpose in our lives. To search for meaning in what we do. Reflecting on my progress either makes me feel overwhelmed or motivated depending on my hindsight and perspective. When I feel I’m lacking it is easy to get overwhelmed, and when I’m progressing it tends to feed my motivation.
What allows us, as human beings, to psychologically survive life on earth, with all of its pain, drama, and challenges, is a sense of purpose and meaning.”
—Barbara De Angelis
Our purpose is not about being recognized for what we accomplish but is more of a desire for our life to have meant something when it is all said and done. So how do we intentionally make choices that will give our life more meaning?
Finding our purpose is directly related to the 35,000 choices we make each day. Life is often unpredictable and it’s easy to feel out of control. According to Tony Robbins, there are three choices we have control over in our lives. “What to focus on, what things mean, and what to do in spite of the challenges that may appear to limit us.”
These three choices — our focus, how we interpret life, and how we respond to challenges — are captivating to me. Have you ever considered using these as a foundation for your resolutions?
What to Focus On
It would be easy to focus on how we will save more money, what we won’t eat, and how we will make more time in the day to exercise and improve our relationships. Year after year these are some of the most common new year’s resolutions. We fail to reach these goals because our focus is on scarcity. Not enough money, time, or food.
Our brain is a powerful tool. It is designed to notice scarcity, what we don’t have enough of. The more we try to stop focusing on something the more it will overpower our thoughts. Have you ever tried to not think about something and find your mind focusing on it even more?
Don’t think about chocolate for the next 5 minutes. Try not to think about the different types of chocolate or how good your favorite chocolate tastes. Don’t think about the times of day you crave a piece of chocolate. It’s hard, isn’t it? The more you try, the more chocolate invades your thoughts — it’s just the way we are wired.
To stop focusing on one thing we need to replace it with something else. Instead of setting a goal to save more find ways to make more. Rather than think about what you won’t eat, focus on what you will. Replace thoughts about your lack of time and how busy you feel with what you do have time for. Focus on sending positive vibes to your brain and changing the voice of scarcity to one of abundance.
I have a friend, who, for years has chosen a word to focus on for the year. One year the word was “ponder” and another it was “explore.” She directed her energy, attention, and power toward what she wanted to start doing instead of what she wanted to stop.
I love this idea! To make it really work you have to find ways to live by it. Make it visible — so you see it throughout the day. Then find three ways to put it into action.
How do you incorporate your word for the year?
What Things Mean
Meaning is based on the value we give to something. It seems logical to make what we value most a higher priority in our lives, but this is not always the case. I was recently reminded of the priority jar analogy.
It goes something like this. Your life is like a jar and all of your priorities are depicted by a pile of rocks, pebbles, and sand. The value or importance of our priorities is represented by the size of the rock, pebble, and sand. To get everything to fit we have to ensure we put the larger items in first. How often do we start with the sand? Filling our jar with the less important things losing room or time for the most important?
For years I have kept what I call my little brown book or resolutions journal. In it, I track my progress on designated key indicators from year to year, prioritize what my “big rocks” are for the coming year, and record my testimony. I love to pull it out each January and witness the progress I have made over the years.
What to do with Challenges
It takes courage to face our challenges rather than allowing them to limit us. How often do our challenges sneak up and take us by surprise? Do we have a plan in place for how we will choose to respond when the unexpected pops up?
When my kids were little I noticed there were two types of kids. They would all be out playing, riding their bikes, or climbing on the jungle gym and would from time to time fall. One type would jump back up, brush off the dirt and keep on playing. The other would wallow in despair until someone came to the rescue.
What type of kid are you? When you fall do you jump back up and get back in the game, or do you allow your challenges to keep you down?
It is all a matter of mindset. We can choose ahead of time how we will respond to our challenges and when they happen we know what to do.
Finding our Purpose
What choices will bring more meaning to your year? Finding a purpose has been proven to make more life more rewarding and enjoyable. A purpose is what motivates me to change.
Our reward in life will always be in direct proportion to what we contribute to life.” —Hal Urban
We find our purpose by submitting to what we already hope to be true. Self-doubt and despair are the only roadblocks to becoming who we really want to be. Nike’s motto says it all: Just Do It! Stop making excuses. Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged or distracted. Start today and be the person you want to be.
I’m reminded of the poem “The Dash.” It is the line between your birth and — death representing all you did in your life. As you look for choices you can make this year to bring more meaning and purpose to your life think about “The Dash.”
Happy New Year!
This article originally appeared on ChoosingWisdom.org