Courage to live fully in 2010

New Year’s Resolutions – fragile for some ~ too sturdy for others

Tonight we have fun, and tomorrow we break our New Year’s Resolutions.  That’s how it goes for most people.

People like me achieve New Year’s Resolutions.  We are the  “get it done” sort of person.   We also understand that goal-setting is not everything.  Worse, it can be dangerous.  When we set goals, we develop tunnel vision – that’s how it works.  We focus on one thing and disregard side-effects.

“Get it done” people have a bigger challenge to explore life fully

Those of us who find goal-setting easy have a bigger challenge ~ to explore life fully.  Do we have the courage to explore what we can’t control and do we have the courage to explore with no intent to control? Do we dare leave the light and explore the dark?   Could we do a that job we hate without getting wound up about it?   Can we learn to relax in the company of someone we dislike?

Do we have the courage to simply stand in awe of the richness of our lives and all its possibilities ~ without acting ~ without trying to make the world do our bidding?  Do we have the strength of character to simply stand in awe?

Can that be the New Year’s Resolution of 2010?  To Live Life Fully and Be Still?

As ever, here is a poem by Raine Maria Rilke on the courage to live fully.

Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life

Ignorant before the heavens of my life,

I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness

of the stars. Their rising and descent. How still.

As if I didn’t exist. Do I have any

share in this? Have I somehow dispensed with

their pure effect? Does my blood’s ebb and flow

change with their changes? Let me put aside

every desire, every relationship

except this one, so that my heart grows used to

its farthest spaces. Better that it live

fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than

as if protected, soothed by what is near.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Dilute confusion. Find and explode our mist.

The day before New Year is the day of rash and ill-thought out resolutions.  What better day for the colorful and incisive poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks?

Garbageman: The Man With The Orderly Mind

What do you think of us in fuzzy endeavor, you whose directions are

sterling, whose lunge is straight?

Can you make a reason, how can you pardon us who memorize the rules and never score?

Who memorize the rules from your own text but never quite transfer them to the game,

Who never quite receive the whistling ball, who gawk, begin to absorb the crowd’s own roar.

Is earnest enough, may earnest attract or lead to light;

Is light enough, if hands in clumsy frenzy, flimsy whimsically, enlist;

Is light enough when this bewilderment crying against the dark shuts down the shades?

Dilute confusion. Find and explode our mist.

Gwendolyn Brooks

New Year’s Resolution: Look beyond the light

Look in the light?

I’m sure you all know the story about the man who was looking for something under a street-light.  A passer-by stopped to help and asked what he was looking for.  “A sixpence,” the first man said.  “I dropped a sixpence.”  “Where did you drop it?” asked the second man.  “Over there”, the first man said, pointing outwards into the dark.  “Why are you looking for it here, then?”, said the newcomer.  “Because here is where the light is”, answered the first.

So many of us run our lives on that principle.  We know we need light.  So we head towards the light.  But so has everyone else.  And in business-terms, that patch is “over-traded”. In social terms, the “in-crowd” is there.

Look beyond the light

It is good to be there too.  But who is being excluded?  And why?

In many countries, we are approaching the Christmas festival and many of us will be packing up preparing to criss-cross the globe to rejoin family.  We are heading towards the light and warmth of the family hearth.

In the Christian tradition, it is also a time to think about those who are not included around a family hearth.  It is a gesture of kindness and compassion to reach out.

It is also in our self-interest.  Poets remind us that it is in the dark, the place where we generally do not look or listen, where the value of our lives might be.  Paying attention to the dark might bring value to the hearth.

Poetry about looking beyond the light

Here is a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke on making friends with the dark.  Maybe that should be the New Year’s Resolution for 2010.  To spend a moment each day looking beyond the circle of light into the dark beyond?

You, darkness

You, darkness, that I come from

I love you more than all the fires

that fence in the world,

for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone

and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything-

shapes and fires, animals and myself,

how easily it gathers them!

– powers and people-

and it is possible a great presence is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.

Rainer Maria Rilke

I have the power, but dare I use it?

The Power Of One

One song can spark a moment,

One flower can wake the dream.

One tree can start a forest,

One bird can herald spring.

One smile begins a friendship,

One handclasp lifts a soul.

One star can guide a ship at sea,

One word can frame the goal.

One vote can change a nation,

One sunbeam lights a room.

One candle wipes out darkness,

One laugh will conquer gloom.

One step must start each journey,

One word must start each prayer.

One hope will raise our spirits,

One touch can show you care.

One voice can speak with wisdom,

One heart can know what’s true.

One life can make the difference,

You see, IT’S UP TO YOU!

Author Unknown

A Psychologist’s View of the The Power of One

Powerlessness

Most people who consult a psychologist feel powerless, or at least overwhelmed by circumstances.  They don’t want to hear about the power of one!  First, they want simply to be heard.  They want to be acknowledged and not feel foolish for feeling powerless.  Then ideally they want the power of many.  They want the circumstances fixed ~ now!  Of course, that’s the psychologist’s job:  to help put their predicament in perspective and to stay withe them until they are willing to move forward again.

Portfolio workers

Increasingly though, work & organizational psychologists help people who run portfolio careers. Portfolio workers often consult us when they are feeling powerless, or unappreciated!  The reality though is that they have massive power.  In a sense, each person works in a niche.  In reality, they work at the nexus of a great network.  Everything they do, or don’t do, potentially makes a massive difference to the world.

Portfolio workers are the new bosses

There are many things that frustrate us and on which we voice an opinion in the pub or on a blog.  In the ‘olden days’, solving those problems would be in the gift of a ‘boss’.  In our interconnected world, we can do anything about anything.  Because we are so powerful now, we need to take the responsibility of ‘bosses’ on our shoulders.

Are we ready to change the world?

Do we really want to solve the problem in the way we say?  Have we thought about the side-effects?  Are we willing to take responsibility for the side effects?

We have become so powerful that the fun of complaining in the pub is over for us!

And use our influence wisely?

What we really have to do is to list all the changes in the world that we want to see.  Put them in order of importance.  Become sufficiently expert to understand the ripples that we will cause and the costs of our solution to other people.  And do it.

The interconnnected world is also a moral world.  Sitting around complaining when you have the power to act marks us as parasites.  But action requires moral accountability.

Are we willing to be accountable for the small things we do, and not do?

Tight planning or joyful priotizing for 2010?

Do you plan your time carefully?

When I was a young psychologist, I advised people to schedule their time. My boss, an organized goal-oriented man, disagreed. He said that as long as you are doing something important, then it doesn’t matter what you do.

Before we went to meetings with clients, he would go through the our goal and sub-goals, which he would put in a meeting planner. Clients were well aware that he had a check list because they could see him looking at it and ticking things off.

He also ran the office with tight deadlines. He would phone in that he was coming to pick up his overnight work and he expected someone to be at street level to hand it to him through the car window.

His work was returned in the morning and with a ‘rinse and repeat’ the next night, all our work was turned around in three days.

But he didn’t do schedules.

What is the alternative to schedules?

I read a long post today from someone who scheduled his time for a whole year – very precisely.

I think working out how much time we have available is helpful so that we can work backwards to sensible work practices.

  • We can find a daily, weekly, and monthly rhythm that is enjoyable and effective.
  • We can discover what is important

Yes, we have a year, a month, a week, a day or an hour to spend. What will we do with it? We have a year, a month, a week, a day or an hour to spend. What would be the most enjoyable and satisfying thing to have accomplished in the next hour?

We need a system to make to find our priorities

Long “todo” lists and massive schedules are oppressive. I find people who have “calendars” simply fill them up and then claim they are very busy.

I don’t want to be busy. It only makes me impatient with others.

My 2010 priorities

I simply ask whether what I am going to do in the next hour enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful?

I simply ask how my day will be enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful.

Right now, I am asking why this week (or weekend) will be enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful

How will the remainder of this month be cherished and celebrated?

As I take my blank calendar for 2010, where are the moments in 2010 that will be enjoyable, satisfying and deeply meaningful!

And I will leave time, plenty of time, for events to surprise me and make the year better than I could ever dream.

In the words of poet, David Whyte:

“What you can plan is too small for you to live. What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep?”

Beautiful New Year Resolutions: Follow the beauty you discovered in 2009?

New goals to focus the new year

2010 is upon us.  2009 has gone fast.  I began the year overloaded.  I was stressed out in January and was working hard to limit my goals.  That’s the purpose of goal setting, right?  To reduce the number of things claiming our attention.

Do you achieve your goals?  I sincerely hope not!

In the end, I over-achieved some of my goals and under-achieved others.  Why?  Why can’t we arrive spot-on?

Because that is not our job.  Really it is not.

Events, dear boy, events!

Our job is to respond to events.  Events, dear boy, events, as British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once said.  Or as the military say, no plan survives meeting the enemy.

Our job is not to press on regardless.  Or job is to be aware of what is happening around us, to understand what is valuable, and look after that.  We’ve had a good year when we’ve attended to who and what is important.

To be ready for unfolding events, it is a good idea to plan.  Plans mean we have information at our finger-tips and we find it easier to read evolving situations and understand what we need and want to do.

A good year is when our goals unpack themselves and we discover what is ‘good and true, better and possible”

But our job is to learn.  A good year is a year in which our goals unfold.   A good year is when our goals unpack themselves.  We come to understand the richness of the world and gaze upon it with respect and more curiosity bordering on reverence, not to forgive its wrongdoings but alive to what is ‘good and true, better and possible.”

So as we open our diaries for 2010, what has changed for us during 2009?  Putting aside the farce of bailing out banks to the tune of more than half out annual GDP and politicians who rifle the petty cash, for farce is what that is, what changed for us during 2009?

Looking around the world, what do we see that we never used to see?  What poetry & song did we hear this year, yet never heard before?   Whom do we know whose style and approach to life we truly admire?

What brings us alive and takes us bubbling with enthusiasm towards 2010?

Take your first small step that may be the giant step needed by mankind

Often what brings the light to our eyes is deeply personal. We don’t want to expose what we love to the harsh glare of spotlights and public scrutiny.  What we share is not for the sake of sharing.  It is for the sake of nurturing what we feel is beautiful and it is for the sake of encouraging what we would like to see more of.

Of the many beautiful things we have discovered, which are we able to move towards?  Which are we able to do more?  Where and how can we take part and in the process make them more beautiful?

We may have the smallest role to play in their beauty.  But it may be our role in creating a beautiful world.  That small step on the edges of our existence may be a large step for mankind ~ if only we would take it.

Relaxing into my New Year’s Resolutions!

Tomorrow is the last day of 2008 and most people will spend a little time day dreaming about what they would like to see happen in 2009.

The Press will remind us, it is a standard story (!), that most of us will not keep our resolutions.

Do you keep yours? I keep mine.  This is how I do it.

I set targets for the end of the year and write them down in a place that I am likely to stumble over in the second half.

For example,

By the end of 2009, I will take pleasure in exercise.

ONE

This gives me time to achieve the goal and allows for the stops, starts and false turns that are inevitable.

TWO

I am focusing on what I enjoy.

If I go out to play tennis, or take the stairs instead of the lift, then I tend to think about the part that was fun.  After a while, I associate the activities with fun and look forward to doing them.

THREE

And I write down the goal in a place, I don’t look every day but that i will find by accident months from now.

I usually write my resolution on the front inside cover of my diary.  At some time, I will probably use the calendar to plan something, or I will open the diary when I am hunting for my driver’s license number, or something like that.

The double surprise of finding my resolution and discovering that I have done something about it,  is enjoyable.   I begin to think of myself as someone who gets things done (eventually), and as someone who truly likes exericse (in this case).  It’s a good feeling.

And if you don’t have the energy to be willful, pop back here tomorrow and I’ll summarize a positive psychology approach to your new year review that is altogether more fun than this!