“This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine!”
An inventory is what I call my year-end assessment. That’s the basis for setting my new year’s intentions. Some years ago, I switched from the word ‘resolution’ for two reasons. First, because our collective consciousness has so much “failure” baggage around this custom of formulating goals for the coming calendar year. Second, my free associations all reveal a personal negative bias - revolution, revolting, roulette….
Revolution is violent, therefore a last resort. The word revolting implies disgusting. Roulette gives me only narrow, highly unpredictable windows for winning. Starting out with these images did not support my proactive commitment to enjoy life’s ongoing challenge to change. (Rigor mortis is the alternative.) So, I set about reframing this annual opportunity to make it lighter, easier for myself. (Flexibility and open mindedness are among a myriad of benefits.) And it is my purpose now to offer you a paradigm shift to boost your enthusiasm for this improvement game that many of us start to play every January.
• Admirable Character Traits•
My inventory process takes stock of what pleases me about my choices and actions the past year, as well as what didn’t go so well. This is where the magical tool of self-appreciation begins to work on our behalf. I appreciate my better character traits and the successes they generate. I appreciate my good intentions for actions that produced less-than-desirable results as I evaluate them and consider corrective measures.
“If you are not making mistakes, you are not growing” is a bit of Eastern wisdom that reframes disappointment, self-blame, or self-criticism. Even if my results are yucky, I can give myself credit for setting worthy goals and attempting to reach them. Self-appreciation frees me to try other ways to more effectively pursue those goals. Self-deprecation holds me hostage.
• Where’s the Inspiration? •
As the year came to a close I stumbled upon my need for greater self-appreciation. The last week of December, “Happy New Year!” rolls off my tongue so easily • like a bowling ball gliding the glistening length of paste polished lane. It’s a sincere wish, a heartfelt blessing for you. It’s a radiant vision of you through each turn of calendar pages. And it’s what I want most for myself, too. Suddenly, I feel as though that bowling ball just landed on my foot. Decades of cultivating peace, joy, love and service have been a pretty good life, but another year of upgrades isn’t inspiring me the way it used to. Clunk!Insight dawns when I’m trekking the bleak forest and realize those trees are resting. Rest is as vital to growth and change as the spaces between musical notes are to a concerto. Ahhhh yes, the cyclical holistic ebb and flow are both vital to fulfillment. To be creative and complete, to feel my place in the world and my connection to it, I now focus inward to first acknowledge my value, my being. From that foundation, doing is filled with grace. So, I’m making self- appreciation my priority and my context for this year’s intentions. Self-appreciation is the vase and my intentions are the flowers I arrange to complement that container.
• Softer, Gentler Gradient •
At inventory time, I used to gloss over my successes and concentrate on setting goals to fix the causes of errors, upsets, disappointments. I needed to be better than before. I wasn’t quite good enough. Now, self-appreciation inspires a softer, gentler improvement gradient. When I really like myself just the way I am, I feel excited to realize more of my potential. As I’m growing my assets, it’s easier to fix some of my faults.
“It’s good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end,” declares Ursula LeGuin, 20th century American author. A Harley poster portrays an aerial view of a lone biker cruising up a deserted switchback mountain road on a gorgeous summer day reminding us, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.”
• Enjoy the Process •
To create a no-fail self-appreciating resolution, focus on process rather than results. Results are merely feedback opportunities for putting in corrective measures along the way. Process is the enjoyable journey. For example, a resolution to lose 10
pounds will either succeed or fail. Even if you lose nine pounds
that critical committee in your head, all too often, labels you a failure. Such baggage encumbers the joy of learning and growing. Instead, reformulate that quantified goal as a pledge, a process, to eat one additional fruit or vegetable every day, and you open up to enjoying self-improvement as though it were a magical adventure.
Self-appreciation guides you on your journey to explore delectable discoveries in the grocery produce department. This time next year, you may have succeeded only 10% of the time, but your year-end balance sheet reflects bottom-line improvement. Success. Maybe you’re only 2 pounds lighter. Progress. Okay, now try adding another daily serving of fresh fruit or veggies for a year. Or wear a pedometer and gradually increase your daily walking. Keep developing enjoyable strategies to do better, and that 10-pound loss will be the eventual result. Plus, the weight loss will be sustained because it’s the way you live, not a quick fix to hide sagging self-esteem. Self-appreciation is a strong, solid foundation for cumulative change.
• Make Progress Pleasant •
Process, like climbing a ladder, allows you to move closer and closer to your desired destination. Process allows you to space the rungs of that ladder close enough to make progress pleasant, step by step, resting awhile when you need to, then resuming your upward trek feeling refreshed and ready to move on. Self-appreciation keeps that ladder stable.
Any quality you admire in another has to be present in yourself or you wouldn’t recognize it. What if you spent a year celebrating all your positive character traits? Create a self-appreciation journal, and write in it daily. The self you are appreciating glows brighter and brighter like Tinker Bell’s aura when everyone applauds. The self you are appreciating may turn out to be a much, much Greater Self than you’ve ever imagined.
About a hundred years ago, American essayist Agnes Repplier wrote, “It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.”
Happy New Year!