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Issue 32

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In this issue ~~

* Starting Fresh

* Creative Tip

* Wise Words

* Bookshelf

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Starting Fresh

As the year comes to a close, it's time once again to think of endings and new beginnings. While it can be sad to let go of what's been, it's also a perfect time to clean the slate and make a fresh start. Just as you rid your closets of the old to make room for the new, you can do the same with the thoughts and feelings that clutter your mind and heart.

During the holidays, things often slow down, making it a natural time for introspection, a time to evaluate and reassess your priorities. This year, instead of looking at a better way to do resolutions, let's restrategize our goals, stopping to reflect on the past year and shine a light on the one to come.

~ Acknowledge your successes. Write them down or share them with friends and family. Remember to acknowledge the inner successes, such as the ways you've grown as a person, along with the outer, more tangible accomplishments. At one time, I would get together with a group of friends each New Year's Day to share our achievements of the past year, and in every case, the successes that were most meaningful to each of us were the inner ones.

Take time to celebrate your successes. Depending on your style and the caliber of the success, that may mean throwing a party, having dinner with a good friend, buying yourself something special, lighting a candle, making a note in your gratitude journal or simply giving a few words of thanks.

Begin the new year by starting a Success List, and add your successes throughout the year, so you don't have to scramble to remember them all at the end of the year. (Reading your list is also a great way to get a lift when you're feeling down.)

~ Next, look at the goals you made for the past year that you didn't achieve. Reevaluate them. Are they goals you want to renew for the coming year or ones that you want to let go of? Objectively assess what got in your way of achieving them this past year. Was something stopping you? Are there obstacles you can clear or conflicts (inner or outer) you need to resolve? Were you doing it to please someone else rather than yourself? Did you set the bar too high? Is it simply a matter of time and persistence? Or is it a goal that no longer has any heart for you and you're just going through the motions?

And just as you celebrated your successes, you may need to grieve your losses and outdated dreams in order to let them go. Take time to deal with your feelings. Talk about it with someone, or write, sing or paint about it. You might want to create a "letting go" ritual -- one way is to write on a piece of paper what you want to release and burn the paper, perhaps scattering the ashes to the wind or water.

~ Third, look at the big picture of your life -- where you want to go in the long run, and not just in the immediate future. Are you happy with the track you're on? Are the dreams you're pursuing still exciting you? Are there others that have been waiting on the back burner too long? Which ones have outlived their usefulness? What shifts in direction need to be made? What needs to be added, changed or relinquished?

~ Finally, create a fresh list of goals and priorities for the coming year. Get rid of the goals that are no longer serving you and recommit to the ones that are -- by recommitting, you can approach that goal with a new enthusiasm, rather than just dragging it along from year to year. Add new ones -- what are the next goals that will stand on the shoulders of your current successes? Create short- and long-term plans for achieving those goals -- the steps you'll take in the coming year and beyond. And you may want to list or group your goals in order of importance.

Along with achievements, look also at your life strategies. Which ones empower you, and which ones are based on old habits, fears or beliefs? For example, my life strategy used to be "work harder." That strategy was based on a fear that I was never good enough or did enough, and even though the physical evidence showed that working harder -- sometimes to the point of exhaustion -- didn't really make a difference, I kept doing it anyway out of fear. As I've learned to trust myself more and changed my beliefs, my strategy has become "work smart, not hard."

To discover your life strategies, or "world views," look at the way you explain how things happen in your life, as well as the excuses or justifications you often use for the way your life is going. They will generally fall into certain consistent patterns or statements that either enhance or limit your ability to create success, happiness and abundance. Once you see what they are, you can make an informed choice about whether a strategy serves you or not, and then renew it or replace it with something better.

Some examples of disempowering strategies that you might have:

~ It's a dog-eat-dog world, so get all you can for yourself, and the heck with the next guy.

~ I can't count on anyone but myself.

~ It's you and me against the world.

~ Nothing I do is good enough, so I always have to work harder.

~ Nothing I do is good enough, so why bother.

~ If it's fun or feels good, it must be bad for me (or I don't deserve it).

~ Everyone depends on me, so I have to come through for them, even if it's at my own expense. (Variation: Other people's needs are more important than mine; taking care of myself is selfish.)

~ Everyone else can make money and have things, but I'll always be poor.

And some examples of positive world views:

~ The world is a safe and friendly place.

~ There's always someone I can count on.

~ I am abundant and always have enough to meet my needs.

~ My efforts get results and are rewarded.

~ What I do matters.

~ I deserve good things.

You can use this process individually or with your family and in various areas of your life, such as:

~ Relationships/family/community

~ Career/job

~ Money/finance

~ Hobbies and leisure pursuits

~ Personal growth and spirituality

So start the new year with a clean slate. Let go of both your successes and your failures and start from ground zero. Doing so can give you a fresh outlook on life and set you off with a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm.

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Creative Tip

Write down your goals and priorities for the year and put them on your wall or bulletin board as an inspirational reminder. Put the most important, or elusive, ones on colorful post-it notes and place them around your home where you'll see them often.

 

Wise Words

"Finish each day and be done with it...You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."

~ Charles Dickens

"One can never change the past, only the hold it has on you, and while nothing in your life is reversible, you can reverse it nevertheless."

~ Merle Shain


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Bookshelf

(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)

The Art of the Fresh Start: How to Make and Keep Your New Year's Resolutions for a Lifetime . . . Glenna Salsbury

The Little Book of Letting Go: A Revolutionary 30-Day Program to Cleanse Your Mind, Lift Your Spirit and Replenish Your Soul . . . Hugh Prather

Life Makeovers . . . Cheryl Richardson

R to the 3rd Power: Reflection, Regeneration and Revitalization in the New Millennium . . . Darryl S. Tukufu

Soul Mapping: An Imaginative Way to Self-Discovery . . . Nina H. Frost, Dr. Richard W. Shoup, Dr. Kenneth C. Ruge

Shaving the Inside of Your Skull: Crazy Wisdom for Discovering Who You Really Are . . . Mel Ash

The Book of Self-Acquaintance . . . Margaret Tiberio

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© 2001 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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