Throw a stick at this time of year and you’ll hit a tweet, post or video with someone telling you to set your goals for 2015, review how your 2014 went and put in place measures to track your progress for the year ahead.
Yawn, yawn, yawn. Same old, same old.
Bollocks to all that
There’s really just one question you need to keep with you right the way through 2015. One single question that can’t fail to keep you on the right track.
What is this question I’m trumpeting?
Drum roll, enter stage left, the only question you need:
What’s my next choice?
Looks simple, right? Just four words. Easy.
Your next choice could be about which breakfast cereal you pick off the shelf, which socks you put on in the mornings or which lipstick you’re in the mood for. It could equally be about which city you move to, whether you take that job or whether you break up from your partner.
Too often we let our doubts and fears make make our decisions for us, but the whole point of having them is to make them. Not based on what you fear about what could happen or whether you’re good enough, but based on what might be possible and what you might get to create.
Your next choice could create a smile. It could take you a step closer to something. It could make things simpler for you or for someone else. It could be about going easy on yourself. It could be about kicking yourself up the butt. It could be about fun. Or it could be about exerting effort.
Here are a 3 different ways to use this question to help you, no matter what 2015 brings you.
1. What’s my intention here?
Having a shitty intention (how can I come out looking good, I can’t be bothered or I wish I was somewhere else, to give you just 3 examples) isn’t going to see you at your shining best.
Your intention shapes how you approach a moment in time. It allows you to stand back a little rather than be swept along by the drama or detail and to look at what you can bring to the moment. It gives you the opportunity to choose how you want to approach something.
When my illness is tearing chunks out of me and I find myself wanting to hate that I have this thing, checking in on my intention allows me to breathe and to stop judging. I get to ease into the moment with grace rather than with teeth and nails.
And when clients tell me that they don’t feel confident in a specific situation (in a big meeting, on a date, when hanging out with people who are “better”, etc), asking themselves this question provides answers like:
I want to enjoy it
I mean to give it my best shot
I choose to lean into it
It’s a deceptively simple looking question on the surface, but asking yourself this at the start of the day can help you to dig deep, to hang on a while longer and even to go easy on yourself. Because sometimes, choosing the right intention can make all the difference in the world.
2. What matters to me?
What matters to you really? Is it what Kanye and Kim are up to? Maybe it’s trying that crazy new fusion restaurant that everyone’s talking about (Caribbean Korean anyone?). Or perhaps it’s getting that 1000 thread count bed linen, because your comfort matters, dammit.
What matters to you will change at different times. When you’re dying to take a piss, that’s going to matter quite a lot. Or when you haven’t eaten in 3 days, your next bite of food will naturally matter a whole lot. But at other times you get to choose.
You get to choose whether to honour the things that don’t matter, or whether to honour the things that do. The things that are ten thousand feet down inside you. The things you’ve always loved. The things that have always tugged at you.
For me, these things include creativity, belonging and laughter, and I actively make choices around them, seek out those things and give room to them. It’s this stuff that gives life its texture.
What is it for you?
3. What do I let go of?
My hair’s getting as thin as the “plot” of Fifty Shades of Grey, and I could have gone down the road of using Regain for Men, colouring the bald spot in with a Sharpie or having hair transplanted from my butt. But I didn’t fancy being a butt-head about it (literally), so I chose to let it go.
Clinging onto things that no longer serve you is tempting when you’re trying to stop change from happening, but it’s a bit like hiding under the bed with your eyes tightly shut and refusing to accept that the Sun’s come up, or making a blast shield out of bacon as the massive asteroid plummets towards you from space.
Deciding to accept how things are and to let go of the things that drain you, frustrate you, don’t serve you, make you fearful or keep you small takes guts, and it’s a decision that we all too often push away, pretend isn’t there or hide from. But this growth and shedding is inherent to a good life.
There’s comfort in keeping things close, but there’s relief in letting go.
Take the stick out of your ass…
With all this talk about making great choices in life, honouring what matters to you, creating something of value and living a great life, it’s easy to feel weighted down with responsibility and import.
But please, please, please don’t be rigid, sombre or pious about this stuff. I hate self-righteousness, and the second I sniff that I’m heading into that space I make time for a fart joke or say something really inappropriate (it’s part of my charm).
Life’s way too short to treat everything seriously, so while it’s true that your choices are your mechanism for living, for me at least, this would be nothing without fun, joy and a healthy slathering of silliness.