“Self-reflection is necessary to dig beneath our own layers and to visit the inner crevices of our hearts and minds to develop an understanding of life.” ~Unknown
This year I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions or set out to completely “reinvent” myself or my life.
The past three years have brought many unresolved issues, emotions to let go and wounds to heal. It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride and I want to be gentle with myself.
Instead of making resolutions, I sat down with a simple moleskin journal and pondered a few questions to create my own happiness this year based on what matters most to me.
I want to share parts of this process with you – seven questions – to help you achieve the same thing in your life. Because let’s be honest, we deserve it!
You can grab your journal or any notebook and a mug of your favorite beverage (mine was a mocha latte), play a music playlist that inspires you, and take some time to reflect on your life and what it looks and feels like should move forward.
1. What is important to you?
Or to put it another way: what gives your life meaning right now? I say “now” because it may change over time.
My mom and I were reflecting on the last three years the other day and telling ourselves how certain things have lost their importance and meaning while other aspects of our lives have become almost vital.
Topics of conversation, activities, and even certain relationships are no longer fulfilling. As we talked, we realized that we had mourned her quite painfully for the last several years.
For example, I have become more sensitive and superficial relationships no longer satisfy me. I want deep and honest conversations and heartfelt connections. I seek fewer distractions and spend more time contemplating.
Although changes can be painful, they always open doors to new horizons. It’s not that nothing matters anymore, it’s that the same things don’t matter, and it’s up to us to figure out what that is.
So what’s important to you right now? care it.
2. What is your most important need?
Last year I realized the importance of regularly identifying and addressing unmet needs as a form of self-care. After experiencing mild to moderate depression for several months — and not finding solace in meditation, bubble baths (or red wine) — I dug deeper to discover the source of my unhappiness.
The search began with a question: “What do I (really) need right now?”
At that time, I craved social connections and laughter. Once I became aware of this, I began taking the necessary actions to meet these needs and soon began to feel better.
What is your most important need?
Once you’ve identified it, you might ask yourself, “What’s stopping me from fulfilling this need today?” And how could I start taking care of it?”
3. How do you want to feel this year?
After all, we all want to feel good. “Good” can come in many flavors, such as at peace, alive, or loved. Your favorite flavor may change from day to day, but there’s probably one emotion you crave more than others at this time of year in your life.
What is it?
mine is playful I’ve been too serious for too long and my soul craves a good laugh.
What about you?
Once you’ve identified your one to three most important feelings, you can ask yourself, “When do I tend to feel this way?” Think back over the past week, month, and even several years and identify the moments when you have experienced these feelings. Try to repeat these moments (or similar ones) more often.
4. What are your top three priorities this year?
Greg McKeown wrote in Essentialism, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”
Essentialism, as described in the book, means doing fewer things—the most important ones—and doing them better. Less in quantity, more in quality.
It’s about being clear about your priorities and shaping your life accordingly. This will make you feel happier and at peace with yourself and your life. You’ll also experience less stress and overwhelm because your life isn’t cluttered with activities that drain your energy.
So where do you want to focus most of your attention and energy this year? Think about no more than one to three aspects of your life.
If you’re struggling to identify your priorities, I ask myself another question every few months: “If my life ended now, what would I regret not having done, experienced, achieved, and become?”
Almost every time I think about this question, the first answer that pops up is “not having reached a higher level of consciousness”. And every time it reminds me to make more room in my schedule for my spiritual practice instead of filling it with work. It helps me get my priorities right.
5. What are your top three goals?
I used to ignore setting clear goals because I felt more anxious than excited about achieving measurable goals. “Until I realized I was going in circles.
Year after year through my mid-thirties I found myself where I was the year before, especially with my creative projects. I wasn’t making any progress and it was getting frustrating.
Finally, I understood and accepted the value of goal setting: it gives our mind a clear direction in which to move. It helps us stay focused and not get distracted and distracted all the time.
As Yogi Berra famously said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”
Setting too many goals is rarely effective and can feel overwhelming and stressful. However, I think having three main goals and maybe a few smaller ones is a good number.
So what are your top three goals this year?
6. What three actions will you take to achieve each of these goals?
That’s the most practical question of all, and it invites us to be proactive and think about how we can begin to address these goals.
I am very “Vata” – the creative personality type of Ayurveda. Vata is intoxicating, easily distracted and constantly changing his mind. It wants to go all ways and often doesn’t get any further.
Defining my priorities, setting goals, and defining three actions to achieve those goals helps me focus on what’s important and avoid wasting time and energy on what’s not case is. Clarity also reduces stress and is a powerful antidote to procrastination. You’re more likely to do something when you have it in your head.
What three actions will you take to achieve your goals for this year?
7. What twelve new things would you like to try, learn or explore?
Each year I choose twelve experiments – things I want to try and explore – one for each month. I started this a few years ago at a time when my life felt kind of boring and uninspiring.
So far I’ve attended a cocoa ceremony, done a reading with a medium, tried Deepak Chopra’s 21-day abundance meditation challenge, attended a laughter yoga class, tried ecstatic dancing, had a quantum healing hypnosis session, and with a Crowd experiments of other things.
Experimentation is a great way to discover new interests that could become passions. It also allows you to meet new people and uncover aspects of yourself — like desires and personality traits — that you didn’t even know existed. Overall, it makes your life richer!
You only have to select twelve experiments and assign each to a month of the year. Then, after each experiment, ask yourself, “Did I like it? Do I want to do it again?”
I hope that you find value in some of these ideas and that they inspire you to create your own happiness.
May this year bring you experiences that bring you to life or give you more of the feelings your soul craves the most at this time in your life.
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