Risky Choices

It is not easy to take risks. Let’s face it, by definition “risks” provoke a little anxiety if not outright fear.

It seems to me that the older we get, the easier it is to maintain our own personal status quo. Even in early adulthood, the pressures of accomplishing our goals…finishing school…getting a job…making enough money to live on…forces us to stay an a fairly narrow path of priorities.

There are 24 hours in a day and we have to choose how to use each one of them. Do I take this precious hour and … do the laundry…complete that report…catch up on e-mail…or do I do something different, something that beckons but just doesn’t fit into my pre-established priorities?

Mostly, we have to do the laundry, complete the reports and catch-up on e-mail to prevent our lives from unravelling. But every time? Every hour, every week?  In fact, I would argue that we do far more damage to our lives by not making unconventional choices once in a while.

There is this great, amazing thing on the internet called National Novel Wrting Month (NaNoWriMo for short.) Have you heard of it? It’s crazy really. Every November, thousands of people from all over the world gather together on the Internet and pledge to write 50,000 or more words in 30 days. And they actually do it! I did it this past November.

You get a ton of support and encouragement from the incredibly enthusiastic staff of NaNoWriMo and the hundreds of volunteers who serve as writing cheerleaders. Yet,  in the end it comes down to you, the hour, and the choice. Do I take the less chosen path or do I fold the laundry?

During the month of November, NaNoWriMo provides the motivation to shift your priorities and choose the risky path. (They also offer Camp NaNoWriMo every April. Guess what MY priorities look like this month?)

Find your own personal NaNoWriMo and experiment with choosing the risky hour. Maybe you can pick the first Saturday each month from 8:00-10:00am to draw, or sign-up for that new Hip Hop dance class at the Y. Has your knitting been calling to you from that pile in the corner? When’s the last time you sang a song?

Try it. Make a risky choice for one hour this week and see what it feels like. It’s good for you.

How to Make a Successful New Year’s Resolution

2016 Resolutions

I don’t completely buy into New Year’s resolutions. I know that for some people, they work incredibly well. If that’s you, more power to you! Keep doing it and you do not need to keep reading this post.

For the rest of us, New Year’s resolutions often end up becoming another source for feelings of inadequacy and failure, ultimately reminding us of what we DIDN’T do in the past year.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If we shift our thinking about New Year’s resolutions from “goals to accomplish” to “directions to explore,” they can become a lot more helpful (and achievable!)

1. Don’t set your resolutions until you are ready. January 1 is just a date on a calendar, it doesn’t really mean anything. Give yourself time, after the craziness of the holidays, to let potential resolutions percolate through your thoughts organically. If you make yourself set resolutions because of the date, they may not reflect what you really want from your life.

2. Rather than thinking about what you want to “change,” “do,” or “fix” in your life, try out “expand,” “grow,” “stabilize,” “concentrate” or “explore.” Not only are these words more neutral in tone, they are also about a process of growth rather than a behavior correction (which even sounds bad!)

3. Rather than goals, think of your resolutions as experiments. For example, a typical resolution for lots of people this time of year is weight and exercise. Switching out “I will lose 25 pounds and work-out at the gym 5 days a week” for “I will look for ways to increase the amount I move my body. I will expand my repertoire of healthy recipes that I really love to cook and eat” could mean the difference between feeling like a failure and actually making a change  during the year.

For another example, if you believe that you are over committed , try “I will concentrate my time on the people and activities that really make me happy.”

5. If you are wanting to explore an area that feels really stuck, I highly recommend you get professional help. Professionals such as therapists (OK, my bias is showing), coaches, trainers, organizers, financial planners, nutritionists, etc, can make a real difference in our ability to make some shifts in stuck places.

If you want some help changing your goals to experiments, leave me a comment telling me your goal and I’ll comment back with a suggestion of how to make it an experiment.

Good luck and I wish for you all the small moments of goodness 2016 has to offer.