A New Year, A Refined You

Happy New Year!

Here’s to a year filled with blessings and prosperity. I trust that all that is good and wonderful will show up in your life in the coming months.

If you had a successful year last year — accomplishing most if not all of your goals……Congratulations!

You have a lot to celebrate.

However, congratulations are still in order even if things didn’t turn out quite the way you intended.

Why?

Because the year is over and done with! You’ll never have to deal with it again and the New Year is presenting you with another opportunity to use the lessons learnt from last year to make the this one even better.

Some of you might see the New Year as a chance to create the ‘New You’. This is especially true if the Old Year didn’t go as well as you would have liked. But I don’t see it that way. To me, the notion of a New You suggests that you are coming into being for the first time —you never existed before. This is of course neither possible nor quite frankly, desirable. It is not possible because you have obviously been around for a while. You have had many decades of experiences and knowledge under your belt. You have had quite a long time creating your own history. So to paraphrase Bob Marley, all these decades of personal history, can’t be wiped so easily!

It is exactly because of the history that you have experienced and created why it would not be desirable for you to create a New You at the start of the year. Do you think you could simply discard decades of memories and life experiences? Who exactly would you be if you were able to begin your year completely detached from and unaffected by your past experiences?Certainly not the same person you are now, correct?

As arbitrary as the date of New Year’s Day is, it still represents a time when most of us reflect on our lives and consider the things we would like to improve about it. We always want the coming twelve months to be better that the preceding ones and so, I believe it is counterproductive for you to set out to create a New You at the start of the New Year. I think it makes better sense to work on creating an improved version of the Old You. An upgrade!

Regardless of how the Old Year ended up for you, the New One presents a perfect opportunity for you to create a Refined You. In this case you are not starting from scratch but instead are reaching back to take the lessons you’ve garnered from the experiences of the Old Year, and using them to refine your philosophy on life, refine or even redefine your goals, and refine your strategies to achieve them.

Any effort to create that New You, is an effort to shortcut the process. It is exactly when things don’t quite work out, that we should be digging in and looking at ways to improve ourselves in order to get better results.

There is no glory without adversity. Any attempt to begin the New Year as a brand New You is to deny yourself of any real sense of victory since there would have been no hardships, no setbacks on the way to your crowning moment. In fact, under those circumstances, I don’t even know if you could look at your achievements as crowning moments.

Remember that your life is a masterpiece, and you are the painter — creating, refining this masterpiece with each new stroke of the brush —each experience, each interaction and each memory. You can’t create a masterpiece with one quick stroke of the brush and it would definitely be next to impossible to create one if you were to continually start over. Creation of the masterpiece which is your life requires focus, dedication, discipline and persistence.

While it may be tempting, even appealing to start your life over from scratch after a sub par year, let me encourage to embrace the idea of refining your life instead.

Here are four ways in which you can refine yourself in the new year:

1. Practice Self evaluation

This is the time of year when most of us tend to take stock of our current situation so this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. It is an important habit to practice consistently but especially at the beginning of the year. As you reflect on your life, here are a few questions you can start with:

Where are you in relation to where you intended to be by this time of the year?
What new goals do you need to pursue?
What Old goals do you need to redefine our simply discard?
What new people do you need to bring into your life?
What old ones do you need to stay away from?

Your honest answers to these questions will provide you with good insights as to what your next steps should be.

2.Be Kind to yourself

Whenever you talk to yourself; you have a captive audience of one.
Learn to speak to yourself in kinder, more compassionate ways. In other words, learn to harbor thoughts about yourself that are not constantly beating you down but lifting you up.

Psychologists say we have 50, 000 t0 6000 thoughts everyday and most of the thoughts we have today are the ones we had yesterday and are going to have tomorrow.

Get in the habit of monitoring and taking an inventory of your thoughts so that you can not only become aware of the times when you are not speaking kindly to yourself but you can start making a conscious shift to greater compassion.

3.Reservejudgment on yourself

Oftentimes, even the harshest criticism of a complete stranger cannot be as stinging as the ones we levy on ourselves. The truth is that we are more often than not our worst enemy and critic. I am not suggesting that we handle ourselves with kid’s gloves. We definitely need to push ourselves but it needs to be done with compassion and love.

In many instances, the source of our own self judgement comes form comparing ourselves to others. We will look at the tremendous gains others appear to have made and immediately become critical of ourselves, not realizing that you perhaps overcame much stiffer obstacles than they did and so by all objective metrics, despite appearances, you are in fact more successful. Discipline yourself to think positively about yourself

4. Take one step at a time

Once you’ve completed yourself evaluation and determined the next steps you need to take; be cognizant of the fact that you won’t be able to do it in one go. Everything in life is about a process. Unless, something catastrophic takes place and forces you to make wholesale changes, real lasting changes take place in small increments.

As the author Dr MichaelPuett reminds us, “Change doesn’t happen until people alter their behavior, and they don’t alter their behavior unless they start with the small.”

The New Year is certainly an exciting time. It gives us the sense that we can have a fresh start but I believe the best way to do that is to renew our efforts to grow and improve ourselves so that we can create the results we want. Part of that process is recognizing that from time to time you will fall short but that doesn’t mean that the entire year was a bust. In fact, if you think about it deeply enough, you’ll realize that your most rewarding experiences come through the challenges you’ve had to overcome. These situations don’t seek to make you over from scratch but serve to forge and refine you into a better, stronger version of yourself.

As a you move into the New Year, do so with boldness, and courage. As the artist, you have the creative discretion. Keep editing and perfecting your masterpiece as you go along.

I also challenge you to demonstrate on everyday of the year, the same level of hope, enthusiasm and optimism that you had on the first day of the year.

Keep On Pushing!

Copyright © 2017 Devon Harris & Associates LLC 2017

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