As 2017 comes to a close, I’ve been hearing how tough this year has been for so many people. Some of the challenges described have been personal ones, often involving health concerns or issues around grief and loss. Others have also spoken about challenges related to fear about more global events, violence, and environmental degradation.
In trying to prepare for 2018 in the best possible way, I’m sure some people will want to write down goals and a list of New Year’s resolutions to help stay focussed on what can be achieved, rather than getting caught up in things we may have no control over.
I started setting New Year’s resolutions in my teens, usually at least a day or two before the start of a new year. I found this process to be fun, and after the year was done it was rewarding to look back at the old resolutions and goals I’d set. Though I rarely achieved everything I’d aimed for, it was still satisfying to see how many of those resolutions I had stuck to and all the things I’d completed even if I hadn’t looked at the list very much since the start of the year.
Despite the positive experiences I’ve had from setting New Year’s resolutions, I’ve actually chosen to move away from the process of consciously setting my own agenda for the year ahead. Last year I saw how stressful it could be when trying to push towards certain goals I thought I ‘should’ achieve, and how unhappy I sometimes felt even after attaining what it was I thought I wanted.
I learnt to let go a little more, and things did get better once I started to surrender any plans, goals, and outcomes to something much larger than me. I began to equate happiness with surrender, rather than any external thing or situation or person I could possibly manifest. For this reason, in late 2016 I decided to surrender my own goals and to not go through the same annual process of creating more New Year’s resolutions.
I wouldn’t say this felt exactly comfortable. Habits can be hard to break, and I’d always looked forward to deciding what to work towards in the new year. I even wrote a newsletter a couple of years ago about the importance of intention-setting and creating New Year’s resolutions.
To try and settle my uneasiness about this, I decided that although I wouldn’t write any of my own goals down from my rational mind, I would surrender and ask if there was anything that the Universe/God/my guides/higher self would have me do in the following year. In the middle of the night, those answers came and I scribbled down what felt like a relatively tiny list of three items. It wasn’t my normal list of 10-20 things, but I was glad that it wasn’t nothing either.
One of the three items was doable. It would take a whole year to do it, but I knew it could be completed if I worked daily on it. The second item was something that had been on my bucket list for years. It involved overseas travel and an adventure tour which I was happy to have on my list, but I wasn’t sure how I could financially afford to do it. The third item I didn’t even believe was possible, but I wrote it down anyway.
Even after these three items came through, I struggled a bit with the temptation to add more to it. ‘Shouldn’t I update my website this year? Shouldn’t I complete the book I’ve been working on? Shouldn’t I start a new fitness routine? Shouldn’t I blah, blah, blah …’
I let all of those ‘shoulds’ stay out of the list and let only the three remain which I felt had come through me intuitively, rather than from my ego or logical mind.
The good news is that I achieved all those three items as of this week. I worked on the first one on a daily basis until its completion on Christmas Day. The second item was ticked off thanks to receiving an unexpected repayment of thousands of dollars that I’d loaned to someone years beforehand, which I hadn’t mentioned again or asked for (you may not believe this, but this surprise money turned out to be the exact amount I needed to cover the particular trip I was to go on, and it appeared in my bank account within a couple of days of me wondering to myself how I would come up with the money before the cut-off date for payment that week). Finally, the third item was made possible after an opportunity popped up that I hadn’t even considered until a few months ago.
Although on one level I did surrender to my intuition this year, on another level I let myself indulge in worry at times anyway. So while I took action when I felt guided to, I didn’t always trust that the process would be ok for me. I went through the motions but my mind was not entirely on board.
It was only in the middle of writing this newsletter that I realised I’d left out an important component of the surrendering process this year while following intuition and spiritual guidance – I had surrendered my actions but not my thoughts or judgments of them. For 2018, my aim is to take the process of surrender one step further by surrendering my mental activity as well. Hopefully this means that I won’t get so carried away again with neurotic thoughts about why something might not work or about all the things that could go wrong in future.
I suspect that if we really surrendered our mind to our highest guidance with enough persistence and sincerity, that we would rarely – if ever – be guided to get lost in worries, or indulge in fears of things that may never happen, or continue to feel extreme guilt or despair about something that’s happened in the past. It’s not that I believe that these things would never come up, but if surrendered, my hope is that we would not stay stuck in those emotions for too long.
This month, I went through the same process I tried last year of asking to receive guidance about what to accomplish for 2018. The items that came through have increased to five things (and popped up during waking hours this time, which was nice!). Again, I’m not sure logistically how it’ll all happen, but I’ll try to keep an open mind.
If you’ve never given this approach a go, you might want to join me in surrendering some or all of the things you think you need to achieve, and to instead ask to be guided towards what to aim for next year. Try praying or meditating about this and notice what comes up :)
Yesterday, the following ‘Holiday Blessings’ poem by Tanya Markul was read out by the yoga instructor of a class I attended. I thought it was lovely so I wanted to share it with you as we approach the new year:
“May we raise the bar for how we live our lives. May we ridiculously increase the amount of peace, play, creativity, beauty, love, and joy in everything we do. May we all sip from the wisdom of our suffering. And awaken with the courage to share our stories that can heal our inner and outer worlds.”
Lots of love, and wishing you oodles of happiness, peace and clarity for 2018.
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