Seems that we all have different ways of approaching a New Year and that is probably good. But I really like Dr. Phil’s typical question, “Is it working for you?” That really gets to the heart of our lives and what we are creating.
As you look over the past year and where you are now, you might first ask yourself what the things are that are working. Does it include your relationships with spouse, children, family, community? How about your work? Lifestyle habits like nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management? Is your personal health where you would like it?
It was Einstein who (loosely) said we can’t expect to solve our problems by doing the same thing over and over. That’s insanity!
So, if something isn’t working, a new approach is required.
Sometimes that means getting a new perspective on the issue. Maybe getting more educated about it. Maybe coming up with newer and more creative ideas about the issue and the solutions than you ever considered before. Maybe getting some outside help.
Life can sometimes get into a merry-go-round numbing sequence, and it’s so easy to get on and do the same thing over and over again. And then at some point an event or other change stops the perpetual motion so that we wake up to other realities of existence and create something new. Haven’t you had that happen to you? I have.
For some, unfortunately, those wake up moments don’t get their attention unless it is really a severe event – like the death of someone close, a diagnosis of a life threatening disease, losing a job, a divorce. But why does it take those kinds of events to stop the carrousel, rather than periodically just pausing to take a personal inventory and asking ourselves,
“Is it working for me?”
Jean Houston, a favorite anthropologist/philosopher/social artist and friend of mine, wrote a book about the trim tab effect. Having gotten my pilot’s license years ago, this concept intrigued me. Her point was that we can draw a parallel to our lives from how a pilot trims the tabs of an airplane so that the course direction slightly changes and our destination point will be very different from the original one.
Yes, I see that a lot with our health and well-being. It may be just a class I take on Tai Chi, or a consistent exercise program, or a new tool for managing stress, or a few nutritional supplements, 5-10 pounds of weight loss – any of those has the potential to “trim my tab” and create a new destination point for me in my life journey.
It’s so easy to think that change has to come in big shifts and then get overwhelmed because it would require too much from us.
But when we can truly embrace the fact that small changes can make major differences in our lives, we are on the path toward true change.
The philosophical concept called “Kaizen” is also relevant here. It was developed in industry in post-war Japan, but its principles carry through to all aspects of life. One of its basic concepts is that when we make small changes, we are more likely to improve things over the long term.
As you put into place your New Year’s plans, may you have insight and courage to make the small changes that can create a life that’s working for you!
To our best year yet, 2014!
Jane Kennedy, CFNP, MN, MPH