The start of a New Year is a time when we traditionally think about fresh starts. Perhaps you’re considering:
- a new diet
- a new exercise programme
- a new course of study
- learning a new language / skill
This year, particularly, might be triggering thoughts of change and new beginnings, given that it is also the start of a new decade and, here in the UK, it’s the year in which we will finally leave Europe and start to see what impact this will have on the country.
All of this can feel very overwhelming, and the new year / decade can seem to stretch out ahead with perhaps too many choices and insufficient information or resources – an intimidating blank canvas where you have no idea where to start or where you might end up.
- How do you know which choice is the ‘right’ one for you?
- Where can you find information / support?
- What do you do if it all goes wrong?
Alternatively, you might feel that you are stuck in a situation with no / very few options, which can feel oppressive and very daunting.
- What can you do when you feel powerless and that the choices are out of your control?
- What can you do to improve your situation?
First of all, let me reassure you that you’re not alone in feeling this way. Social media might make it look as if ‘everyone else’ has their lives sorted, but it’s just not true!
The first important step, I believe, is to stop, take a step back and take a deep breath. Tell yourself that it’s going to be ok – and it is! Think of all those times when you’ve overcome challenges in the past. You’ve faced difficulties before and have made it through every time. They might not have ended how you’d have chosen, but you survived, and you learnt new strategies and became the person you are today.
Remember, too, that it’s ok to make mistakes. When we face a new situation, we can’t be expected to have all the answers, or the skills, to handle things perfectly, first time. Rather than viewing Life as a series of ‘tests’ that we have to pass, why not see it as opportunities to practise, learn and grow. Be gentle and forgiving with yourself – and keep a sense of humour. The ability to laugh with (not at 😊 ) ourselves, is such a fabulous thing to cultivate!
To support this, practise an attitude of openness and curiosity, also known as a Beginner’s Mind. This enables us to keep a fresh perspective and not to get stuck in old patterns or limiting beliefs. It also helps us not to take things personally, but to look instead at what was behind the words or events that we found upsetting. We can look, too, at what we’re feeling and explore our responses to develop greater self-awareness, -understanding and -compassion.
Also, remember that 1 January isn’t the only day in the year when you can make a fresh start!
When you make a choice, it doesn’t have to be forever. You are free to change your mind. There is no situation in which you can’t change something. And if you can’t alter the situation itself, you can always choose to change how you feel about it.
There are no ‘wrong’ choices either. If you haven’t tried something before, how can you know if it will be a good fit for you? You can choose to see it as exploring a new path, and if you find that you’re unhappy with the choice you made for some reason, then you can make a new choice. Of course, this isn’t always easy, particularly when it impacts on other people, but when you can stay open, honest (with yourself and them) and authentic, you will be doing your best, and that is all that is required.
Remember, too, that your past doesn’t define you. We’ve all made mistakes and done things that in hindsight we’re not proud of, but these don’t have to hold you back. Don’t let guilt or an over-developed sense of responsibility keep you captive (I’ve been there!). Know that each morning brings a new beginning and a new opportunity for you to decide who you want to be and what that will look like. And it’s never too late to start! Sometimes it might be challenging, if the people around you expect you to be the same person you were yesterday. They might be uncomfortable with change, and so prefer you to stay as you were. But you are free to be true to yourself, and to grow and develop as feels right to you. Anyway, Life is full of change, and we need to adapt and go with it in order to thrive. (I’ll be posting more about this dynamic process next month.) I once read a saying that made me smile and so it’s become a kind of motto for me: Just yell ‘plot twist!‘ and move on. 😊
We can only ever have power over, and responsibility for, our own choices and their consequences. But when we accept this, and when we can hold them ‘lightly’ – by which I mean with authenticity, flexibility, curiosity and humour – then our world really is a brighter place.
If you would like to explore this further, please see my website and / or contact me: