As I write this, we have just experienced a seasonal shift (from Summer to Fall in the Northern Hemisphere and Winter to Spring in the Southern). The turning of the Wheel of Year marks a powerful time of re-assessment and transition. While your schedule may seem busier than ever, you may also be feeling the call to go within, to slow down, and to re-examine your priorities and goals for the remainder of the year.
As September marks the middle of harvest season for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it certainly makes sense that we would feel called to give thanks for all we are grateful for and what we have harvested this year thus far. I think it also makes sense that we would be re-thinking our goals and plans we made in January, examining what we still have left on our yearly goals list, and deciding what’s “worth it” to keep on there and what might be better off tossed aside or at least postponed until next year. I spent quite a bit of time doing just that over the past week – celebrating what I’ve gotten done thus far in 2017 and re-assessing what was still on my goals and plans list. I ended up deciding that many of those goals I had made in January simply weren’t feasible for 2017 – or had ceased to matter to me for one reason or the other. I wrote all of these “not feasible/not worth it/not happening” goals down on a piece of paper and released them into the Universe (there are many ways to do a release ceremony; I simply wrote them down on a small piece of paper and burned it over my toilet, symbolically releasing these goals using both fire and water).
Once you’ve done this re-assessment and release work, then comes the really fun part (at least it was for me!). You get to decide what you want to focus on for the remainder of 2017. I have five reflection questions to help you with that process. I hope they serve you:
- Who do you find yourself jealous or envious of right now and why? – Although it may seem counterproductive to start from a place of jealousy or envy, our emotions often are windows to our Soul. They tell us what it is that we want by telling us either what we don’t want (see next question) or what we wish we could have, but think (for whatever reason) that we can’t. This often shows up as some sort of “negative” emotion like jealousy or envy or (see next question) fear. So who am I finding myself jealous of lately? My dear friend T. I love her death, but when she announced a month ago that she was taking a sabbatical to figure out what she really wanted to do with her business – I’m not going to lie – I saw green (you know, the green of envy and jealousy). What did I learn from my answer to this question? That while I couldn’t take a full sabbatical from my business or my job, I could incorporate in some time for assessment and reflection – hence my process last week.
- What fears are coming up for you right now? – Again, powerful emotions like fear can often help us discern what we do want by telling us what we don’t want. For example, if you’ve been finding yourself increasingly dissatisfied with a relationship or job, it may show up as a fear of being trapped (e.g., I will never be able to leave my partner/job or I can’t do any better than this). Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer. While my role model authors have changed as I’ve grown older, the dream to be a writer has not. So what’s my fear? The publishing industry has changed a great deal over the past decade or two. Book deals that are big enough for you to live off of while you write are fairly rare these days. So my fear is that I will never be able to “make it” as a writer because writing doesn’t pay the bills. Now if I just had that sabbatical… 😉
- What do you really desire? – Now that you’ve gotten the envy, jealously and fears out in the open, it’s time to get clear on what you really want. I encourage you to go deep with this process and make it more than just another list of goals or seemingly unattainable things you’ve wanted forever. I’ve been re-reading Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map. In it, she encourages you to figure out not only what you want, but why you want it. You may find that there is a mismatch somewhere in there that leads you to redefine either what you thought you wanted or why you thought you wanted it in the first place. Case in point, working on my writing goal from #2, two of my role models right now are Brene Brown (if you haven’t read her books on vulnerability and shame, I highly recommend them!) and Gabriele Oettingen (creator of the WOOP method of goal attainment and author of Rethinking Positive Thinking). After watching numerous talks by both of these women and reading their books, I was under the erroneous impression that they had both achieved my dream of writing and speaking and making a living from that. Nope. Turns out – they both still hold full time academic jobs. Was that an eye-opener for me! Lesson learned: even writing numerous New York Times best sellers won’t necessarily get you want you want (not that I know what Brene Brown wants, mind you – she may love being in academia full time and want to stay there). But that knowledge made me rethink what I want and why I want it and I realized that I might have found a mismatch there.
- So what do you really want? – after doing #3 and really focusing on the why and the feelings behind the why, get crystal clear on what it is you really want. What do I want? Freedom. The idea of being writer has always appealed to me a) because I really love writing, and b) because I figured I could write from anywhere. I always envisioned I would have this little cottage on the beach where I did the bulk of my writing, but that I could travel the world to speak and write if I wanted to. Writing would give me the freedom I craved, or so I thought…
- What’s one thing you can do today to “get there?” – In other words, once you know your goals it’s time to take action. If I know I want to write (and I still do), I need to write. Preferably every single day. If I want to feel free (which, as it turns out is something different than writing), then I need to identify what in my life makes me feel that way or what I could experiment with to feel that way and start doing more of it. For example, working from home, which I usually do two days a week, makes me feel free. Being outside in nature makes me feel free. Painting, singing, dancing – all things that make me feel free.
As we find ourselves in the midst of seasonal change, what is calling to be released in your life? What do you want to bring in its place? And, most importantly,
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