“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~Socrates
Most New Year’s resolutions fail.
You probably know this if you’ve ever made one and attempted to keep it.
You start out strong with great determination and enthusiasm. But after a few weeks, your resolve fades away, and you are back to your old routine and habits.
Most substantial positive change doesn’t begin with an end-of-the-year decision to make an outward change. It begins with an internal revolution.
A revolution of this kind demands a proactive examination of your life to see how your beliefs, behaviors, personal interactions, assumptions, and choices are holding you back from your full potential. And this examination should be followed by a willingness to learn more, to seek out information for growth and change — information that has a proven track record for generating tangible results.
Wishing, attracting, dabbling, surfing the net, chatting with friends about your resolutions — these things don’t cut it. If you want big change, you need to stir up internal anarchy to create a paradigm shift of your entire life. It is through these big shifts that we spin ourselves out of the status quo and up to the next level of our inner growth and development. It is a scary but thrilling proposition.
Are you ready for revolution in 2013?
You can start by asking yourself the questions . . .
- How do I want to live?
- What impact do I want to make on the world?
As you answer these questions, view yourself as a student of change by releasing your emotional attachment to everything in your life for a time. Begin again with a blank slate, allowing for the possibility that you may be wrong about many things you believe and feel. Only with this release can you foster the kind of internal transformation that compels natural outward reform.
If you would like to commit to a personal revolution for 2013, here are some ways to incite the insurgency . . .
1. Examine your personal operating system. Look at all of your spiritual, political, relationship, and cultural beliefs, as well as your habits, traditions, and lifestyle choices. Are they truly your own or adopted unconsciously from parents or peers? Begin creating a new personal operating system based on your inner guidance and choices.
2. Analyze each of your fears. Are they truly grounded in reality? Is there solid evidence that you have real reason for concern? Is there solid evidence to the contrary?
3. Be honest about your general emotional state. Are you feeling generally anxious, depressed, unhappy, angry, or hopeless? Or simply bored and uninspired? What are the root causes of these feelings?
4. Examine the beliefs you have about yourself that are outdated or untrue. What stories have you told yourself and reinforced over the years about what you can and can’t do or be? What elements of your self-image are merely your own mental constructs?
5. Study and learn the skills to help you re-frame and detach from fear-based thinking. Practice the skills to challenge your fears and replace your thoughts with positive truths and useful actions.
6. Deal swiftly and aggressively with debilitating emotions by seeing a doctor or counselor or both. Negative emotions will undermine every positive change you want to make in your life. You simply don’t have the energy for a revolution when you are emotionally incapacitated.
7. Study and learn the skills involved in turning around limiting beliefs about yourself. Learn how to challenge false assumptions and reinforce self-esteem and confidence in yourself.
8. Examine your close relationships for areas of conflict and dysfunction. Where do you notice patterns of your own negative behaviors or hurtful words with your loved ones? Where are you accepting that behavior from others close to you?
9. Get very clear on what emotionally healthy relationships look like. Study and learn about emotional intelligence and mature relationship skills. Invite your spouse, partner, children, and other loved ones to learn these skills with you. Work on practicing them in your daily life.
10. Examine your vulnerabilities and learn to embrace them. Look at the places in your life where you feel insecure or unsure. Rather than putting up defenses or hiding behind bravado, be real with yourself and others. Allow yourself to be authentic and open, even if there is emotional risk involved.
11. Redefine your perceptions of right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable. The biggest mind shifts in life generally happen in the gray areas, the places where we are challenged to see that life is rarely clearly defined. Allow yourself intellectual and emotional flexibility, compassion, and discernment.
12. Get very clear on what success in life really means for you. We spend much of our lives chasing the wrong dreams, wasting time with non-fulfilling activities, or spending money on stuff that provides temporary pleasure. Begin to refocus your energy on what is most important to you.
13. Know what your core values are and align your life and work around them. If you don’t do this, your life is like a ship without a rudder. Define these most important values and use them as a guide for every big decision in your life. Ask yourself, “Does this decision or choice support one or more of my core values?”
14. Examine your physical health and nutrition and be honest about what needs to be done to optimize your health. If you are sedentary, overweight, and/or eat poorly, visit a doctor, nutritionist, or personal trainer to learn the exact approach and exercise routine you should take to optimize your health. Physical health and fitness is essential to having the energy for big change in your life.
15. Learn the skills involved in creating new habits in your life. If you want to begin an exercise program, learn to meditate, become a writer, learn a new language, or any other positive new habit, you need to understand the science and steps involved in creating sustainable habits. There is a simple method that will ensure success if followed precisely.
16. Examine your life for the extraneous and unnecessary and begin to simplify it. This includes places where you have over-scheduled your life, taken on obligations that you really don’t want, or have allowed people to steal your time and energy. It also includes your physical environment and the extraneous stuff that clutters up our living spaces.
17. Research and learn some very specific methods for de-cluttering and simplifying your home. If you are not naturally organized and tidy, learn tips from others who are. Embrace the idea that letting go of things opens energy and creative space.
18. Examine how often your thoughts are in the past or the future and strive to live in the present moment. Real life is right now, in this moment. When you catch yourself in the past or future, pull yourself back to the present moment and focus intently on the task at hand. Happiness resides in the now. But only always.
19. Learn to embrace the ambiguity of living in the present while healing the past and planning for the future. If the past is causing you pain or grief, then do what you must to heal it. If you need to plan for the future, then take the steps to do that. But once these actions are taken, return to the present. Allow the present to be your primary dwelling place.
20. Look for areas of resistance in your life and let go. If you find yourself pushing back against something or someone, give up the struggle. Follow the path of least resistance. Let things unfold as they may when no clear path is evident. Don’t attempt to force things or control people.
21. Practice taking risks and acting in the face of uncertainty. Do your due diligence, gather all the information, examine the pros and cons. But for many big decisions, there is always an element of risk. It is scary standing on the edge, and many people fail to jump. But only by jumping can you facilitate seismic shifts in your life. Practice taking small risks and acting in spite of uncertainty so that you have the courage to take action in the face of bigger decisions.
22. Take a close look at where and how you are living. Does your home reflect who you are and how you want to live? Are you in a city or community where you feel comfortable and happy? Do you like or relate to the people around you? Begin to learn about places to live that best support who you are and the lifestyle you want.
23. Embrace a service-oriented life. Research and studies have revealed that sustained happiness is fostered through service to others. Giving of yourself — whether through parenting, teaching, mentoring, volunteering or simply helping a friend — imbues your life with a sense of purpose and meaning. Begin to think about how you can create a purpose for your life through service.
24. Examine your spiritual life and find a way to connect to something larger than yourself. Research has shown that a spiritual life supports health and longevity and fosters happiness. Whatever your faith or beliefs might be, develop a way to connect to something larger than yourself — whether that is God, infinite wisdom, the natural world, or the vastness of the universe. Practice prayer, meditation, or contemplation as a means to support your spiritual life.
25. Do the internal work to uncover your life passion and take the external actions to actualize it in your life. Living out your life passion, whether through your career or otherwise, elevates your quality of life to the highest level. When you are doing something that fills your cup and makes you come alive with enthusiasm, all areas of your life will be more fulfilling.
If you are ready to create your own personal revolution for 2013, I invite you to read my book, The 52-Week Life Passion Project. The book offers lessons and actions for every week of the year, covering many of the techniques suggested in this post. It provides a a sequential system for making things happen. This is a great program to begin the New Year. I hope you will check it out.
Please share this post with other life revolutionaries!