Five Ways to Live Resiliently in the New Year

This is a perfect time of the year for dreaming and planning for the future. Now that the hustle and bustle of December has passed, the quiet and more peaceful days of deep winter are upon us. Here in Montana, the shadows are lengthening by 4:30 P.M. and plunging us into darkness by 5:00. Fifteen hours later the sunrise is often spectacular as the deep purple and blue give way to pinks and corals and brilliant rays of morning sunshine. The long nights encourage us to reflect on the past year and contemplate the year ahead of us. It is full of promise.

This year, rather than making New Year’s resolutions that few of us keep anyway, focus instead on building and strengthening your resilience. The cornerstone of a resilient life is one filled with purpose.

I’ve collected five ways for you to create a more purposeful life in the New Year. They are not in any particular order but if you do even two of them this month, you will have an extraordinary start to this year.

  1. When we take down the old calendar and hang the new, it signifies a fresh start. The New Year stretches ahead of us. What will we do with it? This is a perfect time to start writing down your dreams. If you are like many of us, you may have lost touch with them over the years. Think back to a happy time in your childhood when you were not worried about the opinions other people had of you or caught up in the concerns of the day. What did you dream about doing? Did you want to be a dancer? Fly airplanes? Go on safaris? Rekindle your dreams. Keep it simple and take one step at a time. You might begin by reading a book, watching a video, or taking a class.
  2. Is fear holding you back from reaching your dreams? Do you have an inner voice that says “You can’t do that” that stops you from expressing your deepest needs? Where does your fear come from? Is it real or something you have built up over time? Be honest with yourself. Be specific. Only when you acknowledge your fears will you be able to act with courage to overcome them.
  3. Do you have a big picture view of your life? Or are you busily engaged in many activities that require a great deal of energy that lead to spinning your wheels instead of heading in a specific direction? Some people even avoid what they know to be true by staying busy. Learn to pause and give yourself time to think about your dreams and aspirations. Carve out personal time for quiet contemplation. Sit by the fire and sip something delicious. Let your mind go exploring.
  4. No doubt you have heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It means that complex ideas and feelings can be summed up quickly with a single image. How would you like to see yourself? What goals do you have for yourself this year? Find pictures that reflect the dreams you have for 2015. Keep these pictures in front of you so that you can see them several times every day. They will serve as exciting and compelling reminders and draw you forward. Do you plan to complete a college degree? Sail around the world? Run a marathon? Start a new business? Pictures will be vivid reminders of what you want to achieve.
  5. Recognize the many ways you have been called. Are you a friend, volunteer, parent, sister/brother, pet owner, worker, son/daughter, spouse, student, and/or business owner? The many roles that you regularly fulfill are significant sources of meaning, satisfaction, and joy. You are needed. You are important to the wellbeing of many around you. They depend on you. You have purpose.

These five ways will bring meaning and fulfillment to you. Select one, two, or all of them to do this month and they will transform your life.