How To Change One Destructive Behavior in 2019
If you’re like me, you’re experiencing a lot of conflicting feelings at this time of year. It seems everyone is super busy. And we often hear, “It’s just that time of year.” For sure, the work we do seems to ramp up in November and December as projects come due or demand resolution, and targets of accomplishment loom large as we approach the end of the year. It can feel like a lot of pressure for some of us. Obviously self-induced pressure, but pressure nonetheless.
On top of those work or goal issues, there is the whole dynamic of the holidays, a time when we’re supposed to be merry and jolly; consume tons of carbs and sugar; and be in love with everyone in our family. Ha! So yes, this universal dynamic surrounding the holidays can be distressing at the very time of year we yearn for meaning and purpose, closeness and connection.
What do you want in 2019?
So as we approach the end of what by all counts has been a tumultuous year, I want to encourage you to do some therapeutic writing that just may offer you some clarity, some satisfaction, and even a revised understanding of how life has gone for you in the last year, as well as how you want your life to be in 2019.
As a long-time teacher of writing, with extensive knowledge of the ways the act of writing can bring clarity, insight, and deep satisfaction to our lives, I am hereby giving you a 2019 writing assignment. I invite you to take some time to explore where you’ve been in your life (and in your goals) this year. Then, use these questions as a way of establishing a meta-intention for moving into 2019 in healthy, productive, and inspiring ways.
Lean in to the big questions.
So here are the questions I pose to you at the end of this year. Please write into them slowly and mindfully. Do not answer these questions all at once. Write a while, then incubate a while. Don’t write an essay, and don’t worry about form, creativity, or final product. Just write. This is more about seeing what feelings and ideas you can dredge out of the basement of your consciousness than it is about creating a pretty piece of writing. I really mean it, just write. Now here we go. . .
1. This first question is a familiar end-of-the-year exercise, but it’s a good one. Evidence shows that this practice is very constructive for shaping your life experience. It’s like programming your brain for certain results.
So, imagine your life on December 30, 2019, and the big, bold goal you set on January 1, 2019, is accomplished. Yay! What does your life look like, having accomplished this particular goal?
- be specific
- explain conditions or spaces
- talk about how you feel
- describe your energy level
- where have you gained confidence?
- how are you connected to purpose?
2. What action steps or support systems are necessary to accomplish this goal as you have envisioned it? Write them down. (Interestingly, the act of writing the steps one might take often pulls us into the new activity we are trying to embrace.)
3. This next question is inspired by one of my favorite podcasters, Tim Ferris. In his new book, Tribe of Mentors, he asks about 130 high performers from a variety of fields and disciplines this question:
What new belief, behavior, habit or practice most improved your life in the past year?
But for our purposes here, I want to make a slight shift in the question. Here it is:
What new belief, behavior, habit, or practice would most improve your life in this next year? What would be different for you or within you if you embraced this new belief, behavior, or practice?
I think this is probably the most important question you can ask as you approach the new year. Most of us hold one “belief” or one habit that holds us back from being the person we want to be. I think addressing this question seriously and diligently might actually negate the necessity of making a big, bold goal!!
4. What actions do you think are necessary to ensure that this belief, behavior, attitude, or habit remains intact throughout the year? Do you need to write it down in your TIA Journal every day? Do you need to work with an accountability partner or group? Do you need to keep a record of actions that support the new pattern? Make a list of all options!
5. Finally, are you willing to commit to these actions in 2019? If the answer is yes, call a good friend or accountability partner and make this commitment formally to him or her. Ask for support. If your answer is no to making this commitment, can you write a bit about why you can’t commit to them now? And then, do you buy your reasons?
Remember, this is wild and woolly free writing, not a polished essay. Just write! When you’re finished, place this exploratory writing in the back of your journal or calendar, and make a practice of looking at it every once in a while.
Why you must write your intentions.
Research shows that the very act of writing our intentions and goals results in higher degree of manifestation or accomplishment of those intentions and goals. And here’s why: when you make an intention clearly and openheartedly, LIFE organizes itself around that intention. All manner of synchronicities, resources, and delightful connections begin to accrue around your intention, as if by magic. It’s not magic, though. It’s the power of your own consciousness.
Do this on behalf of your own well-being; do this on behalf of the world.
In the words of our great teacher Mohandas Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Good advice for the new year. I’m with Gandhi in believing that small, devoted changes in behavior or belief can give us more access to our innate goodness and wisdom and to our capacity for right action—and that can begin to change the world. It’s a place to start, right?
I wish you much fortitude in all of your endeavors in 2019. May those endeavors guide all of us to the light.
Be well, and flourish!