With a quick posting on Facebook, several friends were asked about what they hope to achieve in the new year and many commented that alignment of their mind, feelings and actions was one of their top priorities. Hence, posting a quick question such as ‘ What do you think my New Year’s Resolution should be?’ on your Facebook may not be a bad start! Although not a holistic one, it could give you a few pointers of what your friends think you need to look into.
A holistic approach requires self-study and investigation (‘Swadhyaya’) at three levels: your thoughts; your feelings and your actions in two time dimensions: in the past year and the year to come.
1 Lessons derived from old priorities
Pull out your mental note on the top 3 priorities that you have set out to achieve for 2011 and take a review on them. Ask yourself if you have achieved them partially, completely or left them in the back of the closet to collect cobwebs. The status of the priorities does not really matter, what is important is that you are completely honest with yourself. And list down the reasons why the priorities were achieved or not.
Like Scrooge and his three Christmas, it is crucial to understand the lessons and the takeaways from 2011 because from the old, we gain wisdom for the future.
2 New year priorities
A year comprises of twelve months but in today’s boundary-less world and digital landscape, we can do more and so we end up doing so much that the year zooms by before we have got used to writing 2011 in our notebooks.
The trick is do have less priorities but pick ones that are purposeful for you and focus on them. My star recommendation is pick 3 priorities and nothing more!
(a) The four cornerstones of life
Depending on your priority this coming year, your priorities can be apportioned over the common four cornerstones which is:
(i) Your personal aspirations – health regime, nutrition, self development, yoga practice, cooking skills, photography skills, travels, races and more
(ii) Your family – relationship with your spouse, parents, siblings, children and other loved ones
(iii) Your work – career options, goals, income, financial planning and
(iv) Your friends – relationship with your inner circle of friends, widen your circle of friends.
Someone who is planning to start a family or working towards a promotion to a Partner in her firm will apportion their 3 priorities over the four cornerstones rather differently. For example, if you plan to start a family, you may have 2 out of your 3 priorities under personal aspiration, focusing on getting your health in optimum level with a dedicated work out regime and nutrition programme and place the third priority under your family.
(b) Your thoughts, feelings and actions
Pick your 3 priorities and list down three parallel columns with the headings: your thoughts, feelings and actions and within them, write down why you want this priority, how you would feel if you achieved it and the action you commit to take for this to happen, correspondingly.
Apart from setting priorities, here is a few other tips on how to enjoy the first month of the year.
After a month of celebration with Christmas drinks, dinners, parties with family, friends, colleagues, friends-of-friends, friends-of-colleagues, friends-of-someone you just met and the list goes on, your digestion system will be in need of an overhaul. With Chinese New Year in end January this coming year, it may be a good idea to go on a 3-day juice and fruit detox or a professional detox programme to cleanse out the toxins and start afresh in the new year.
Another form of austerity drive (‘Tapas’) is to give up something for the new year like smoking, drinking, coffee, red meat, sweets or any other habits you have been meaning to pass up. The concept of tapas is to cleanse ourselves through sacrificing or giving up something. If you can not do it for the full twelve months, give it a shot for at least the first month of the year. It is better than none at all!
Instead of hitting the after-Christmas sale for more shoes, clothes than you can wear or your storage can handle, make a promise not to buy any non-essential items this coming year. Non-essential items refer to all other items apart from the food you eat, toiletries and essential grooming services. Yes, this means no new clothes, boots, fancy cocktail dresses and six-digit credit card bills!
And if you do need new items, try borrowing a pair of ski pants from another friend who is not skiing during the same time, bartering for them with something else you already have or simply pick up a second-hand item from asia expat’s listings. The idea here is to tread softly on our earth by buying less so we can eventually produce less.
If you find the idea interesting but not sustainable, tone it down by practicing this for a shorter time like 3 months of the year.
How to spend the 1st day of the year
In order not to spend your first day of the year amidst champagne bottles or in a recovery mode, it means putting a restraining order on your drinking and partying the night before.
A good year requires a good start! Kick off the day with an outdoor run or yoga practice at dawn (or earlier part of the morning). At the end of the practice, allocate some time, meditate on being content (‘Santosha’) and simply being grateful for what you have and not constantly seeking for more and beyond what you possess. If you have set your 3 priorities, reaffirm them too.
Have a splendid year ahead!