The beginning of a new year is an exciting time of anticipation and dreams, of renewal and a fresh start. But when we get right down to it, every day, indeed every moment, is a fresh start. All we have is the present moment, and our purpose is to recognize this and shine bright while we're in it. We can have big ambitions and goals and plans but our real contribution to the world is in each moment as we work toward achieving them. So as I think about each moment of each day in the coming year, my task is to be still and mindful of the present, and keep growing. Success and perfection isn't necessary; growing and contributing more and more is.
Growth is a positive word. It's natural for us and the world around us to grow, evolve and mature. Yet in some ways it seems almost contrary to everything I've been practising and preaching over the past couple of years - simplifying and slowing down our homes, our stuff, our lives. We can sometimes take 'growth' to the extreme and give it a negative connotation (ie. sustained business growth, stock growth, expanding homes, expanding debt, outgrowing spaces, outgrowing each other) but it's natural to always be growing and stretching. The trick is to grow with intention. Cultivating the stillness and simplicity that allows us to be thoughtful and purposeful and wise is essential to growing with intention, without greed or excess, and in ways that will serve us and the world around us well.
The past year has challenged me in new ways, and has illuminated areas where I need to grow. If I hadn't already been in the habit of being still for a little while every day, I may have stayed in the dark. I've learned in the past months that simplicity doesn't necessarily mean doing less; rather doing more in easier and more effective ways. It means zooming in to your dream, and focusing on that one thing (or at least one thing at a time). I may have an even busier life than before I quit my 9-5 job, but it's simpler because I'm trying to live it authentically. And it's rewarding when I see glimpses that my attitude and actions inspire others to also grow and live their best authentic lives. And that's what it's all about, isn't it? Contributing to the world by lighting it up? Growing and becoming more and more enlightened so that we can help others do the same?
So as I move into a new year, and as I continue performing weekly tasks to simplify my home and life (with the purpose of making it easier to grow and contribute) I'm concious of the need to both evolve and be still at the same time. To make it easier to do both, this week I'm creating a vision board and a daily ritual calendar.
My vision board is simple, inspirational and practical. It contains images to provoke creativity and words to trigger discipline and fuel passion. It reminds me of my daily mantra and of my faith. My more detailed goals and plans for the year are written down separately in a journal; the vision board is simply to help me remember each day to put my best foot forward and keep growing. (I used PicMonkey to create the board - it's so easy).
While the vision board motivates, my calendar sets me up for a daily routine of essential activities that will help me fulfil my intentions. One of these activities is rising a little earlier to have a few quiet moments to meditate, pray and stretch. Another is spending at least 30 minutes each day outdoors walking or skiing or doing something heart healthy. Still another is practising yoga. Writing or photographing (and being generally creative) is also scheduled in as a priority each day. Connecting with others is a daily essential as is reading. Of course work and volunteering and meals and relaxation take up time as well, and I'm going to schedule all of them into my calendar ( I use Google Calendar so I have it with me on my phone at all times). Putting them there is making a commitment that should be easier to keep.
I'd like to prompt you to do the same. Take some time during this first week of 2016 to get still, reflect on your accomplishments of the past year (I bet there are more than you think), how you've grown, and how you'd like to continue that growth this year. Write it all down, and then put together a vision board and a schedule. They could be a physical cork board and planner or online versions so you always have access to them. Do what works for you. You could consider doing it with your family as well, by writing down collaborative goals and growth plans and posting them on the fridge or central bulletin board/calendar.
I look forward to growing this year and sharing with you what I'm learning along the way. I wish you all the best for a year of peace, good health and enlightenment.