Now, it’s no secret that I adore the coming of the New Year. I love taking time to reflect on my journey the last year, to make sense of what worked and what failed. And I love the blank canvas of the New Year and imagining what I might paint on that surface.
The New Year can also be tricky.
It’s a time where we are asked to reconcile what we have and haven’t accomplished.
It’s a time where we have to stand and face our own yearnings and desires. To choose to either reach for them with all the tenderness and confusion in our hearts or back off and scale down to protect ourselves from disappointment.
It’s a time where it’s tempting to challenge ourselves to try once more to do everything we’ve failed to pull off before.
It’s a time we can feel muddled and jumbled and unsure of how we want to move forward.
I think if there is one thing we are really being asked to do this time of year, it’s to come back to clarity about what we really want.
Not what we think we want.
Not what we think we should do.
Not what we think will get us the things we really want.
But to really open our hearts and tell the truth, first to ourselves, and then out loud to anyone we choose, about what we most truly, deeply desire, what we long for, what matters enough to move us forward, in whatever rough and imperfect way we can.
To reconcile all the many, complex parts of ourselves and sort out which voice is the loudest and which we most want to heed.
It’s a time that we are challenged to separate the true desires from the shadow desires.
To make room for the parts of yourself that scream to be rich, and powerful, and popular, and universally loved. The parts that tell you you need to lose 20 pounds, to save more money, to eat fewer brownies and watch less TV.
And it’s also a time to question if that’s really true.
To challenge your own assumptions that if you make more money you’ll feel more peaceful, or if you find a partner, you’ll feel less desperately lonely, or if you grow your business, you’ll feel more worthwhile.
And, it might be a time to admit simply that you want to be peaceful, to feel connected, and to know your own value. And to be uncertain, and un-expert about what might create that for you.
What troubles me about some year-end/New Year’s planning approaches is that they don’t make room for all these complexities.
They don’t help you distinguish between the younger, wounded, and confused parts of yourself, and the stronger, clearer truer parts. They encourage boldness, and bigness, and ambition, (all fine things in and of themselves) at the expense of the quieter stories, the more subtle callings.
They can pat you on the back for reaching for bigger and better things without acknowledging the difficulties of navigating between your present reality and the vision you are chasing.
To put it bluntly, our rational minds don’t always know what we really need.
If we stay with the desires on the surface, we may miss the real things we want: the sweetness of being more fully ourselves, the comfort of discovering we already are most of what we want to be, the curiosity of trying something new to see what will happen.
That’s why I like to start the New Year by bypassing my rational mind.
By finding a way to access that deeper voice, and to discover what I want in a way that surprises me.
And that’s the way we find our way out of clutching for the same goals year after year, and instead see and hear more clearly the next chapter of the life we are already living.