As we bid adieu to 2021 and look forward to 2022, many of us wish to breathe some novelty into our routines and embrace the clean slate that a new calendar year offers us. Some make what they call New Year’s resolutions. Others re-examine their purpose in the hope of leading a more fulfilling life. Some even reinvent their look. But in all cases, many are plagued with insecurity at welcoming change into their lives. How can we defeat those voices of doubt, self-sabotage, and inertia?
I wish that things were better. How often have you said that without identifying alternative goals to aspire towards? Indeed, without concrete targets, the path to a better life can appear overwhelming and sinuous. And feeling that the path to greatness is insurmountable unwittingly prevents us from taking even the first few steps. We are trumped by doubt and limited by our fear of not making it, not getting it exactly right, not knowing precisely where to go or how to go about it. Because we don’t know what ‘it’ is.
The secret is that few of those who have found resounding success know what ‘it’ is any more than you do. It’s not an innate quality or a finite point leaving no room for chance or accidents to shape your course. While it’s difficult to accept a life that is completely directionless, we should not let the haziness of our direction hamper our attempts to grow along that path, whatever it may be.
Things don’t get better by themselves, and so we are called upon to author our own destinies, no matter how many redrafts we need to make. Even if new beginnings do not always lead us where we expect them to, they are always a sign of personal progress.
Others may try to oppose or resist the changes we make for ourselves. Often, those are the people we feel the closest to: friends or even family members who have grown attached to a certain version of you. “We love you as you are!” they respond to the changes they see in your life, whether it’s as trivial as a new hair color or as meaningful as shifting from one career to another. But if they really love us as we are, they will accept the changes we welcome for ourselves. We need to learn to rise above those who may undermine our self-authored transformations; as Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his 1933 inaugural address, “You have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
It’s also important to rise above the terrible Ds: depression, disappointment, and disillusion (and let’s throw in distraction and self-doubt into the mix, too). These often conspire to damage our dreams. How do we avoid this scenario?
Firstly, we shouldn’t succumb to false hopes, which only amplify our expectations and goad us into thinking we can control an outcome which is out of our hands. Secondly, we should be kind to ourselves and honest about our abilities and ambitions. Not sure what these ambitions are and not sure how to figure them out? How about using active dreaming? That is, envisaging a better self, a better world, and then taking the next step toward making it happen. Each small step may not feel like much, but each time we move, we get a little closer. With each step, we learn something new, increase our abilities, and before we know it, find ourselves in a new land. Thirdly and finally, we should find joy living in the now. We should not cut ourselves off from the pleasures of the present moment through a relentless focus on the future: this will only alienate us from others and worse, from ourselves. Let’s get in touch with our emotions as they unfold rather than ignoring them in favor of a finite end-goal. Let’s embrace the flow of life through synchronicity to let go of disappointment, and be grateful for every step we take.
Let’s welcome new beginnings with open arms. Happy New Year 2022: may it bring joy and prosperity to your wellbeing pursuits!