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January 1, 2020

How to Have a Successful Year

New Year’s is here, and if you’re in the personal development space, you may be noticing the pressure to make a change. Messages and posts bombard us on how to have the best year ever, how to find love, success, and finally—happiness. This drive for improvement markets new gym routines, diets, productivity tools, and life hacks, all intended to make us better. Why is it that, even with this barrage of promise and hope, there is something inside of us that still feels off?

I believe New Year’s brings up a sense of lack. It reminds us of the money we didn’t make, the weight we didn’t lose, the books we didn’t read, and the goals we didn’t hit. Instead of feeling inspired, we illuminate all the areas in which we are not good enough. Simultaneously, we see an influx of people on social media posting about all they have accomplished this past year. You know the ones. They go something like, “This year was the best year of my life. I met my soulmate, ran six marathons, sold my company, traveled to 46 countries, started a non-profit, climbed Kilimanjaro, did seven vipassana retreats—and I feel like it’s just the beginning. I can’t wait for what the new year has in store! #blessed”

For my fellow recovering comparison addicts, it’s no wonder we feel awful, but should we? Have you made a post sharing what awesome things have happened in your life? I know I have. If so, that’s great! If we feel good about our year, heck yeah, let’s tell the world! We shouldn’t dim our lights because of others’ insecurity.

I’ve been on both sides. I’ve felt jealous witnessing success, and have also shamelessly shouted my achievements. Whichever way we lean, it’s helpful to remember the more we root for everyone, the happier we become. When we judge and project our self-doubt on other people, we stay stuck. If we want to succeed, we must want others to succeed. If we want to thrive, we must help others thrive. We’re in this together. 

Let’s put resolutions, goals, and others aside for now and come back to us. While success, growth, tools, and tricks are all great, what is it that gives our life meaning and fulfillment? 

For me, it’s the feeling of connection to something greater: a sense of purpose, love, and that my life—as Parker Palmer would say—speaks for itself. This feeling of alignment is an inner experience, unmoved by success and achievements. Our work this year is not to pretend that the new daily planner is going to change our happiness. It’s also not to sit around judging others for their achievements (or lack thereof). Our work is inside.

How many books, meditations, and podcasts must we consume to trust that only we can make ourselves happy? We know joy is within. However, life happens, and we need reminders. One way to approach a spiritual practice is a daily habit of remembering. Remembering who we Are, and remembering Whose we are. We remind ourselves of the miracle of our life and then work to live—as Einstein stated—as if every moment is a miracle. In doing so, our presence in the world makes an impact. We smile when we’d normally shy away, share a compliment when it feels vulnerable, and spread our light, regardless if it makes for a good facebook post. 

It’s in each day we get to feel these emotions, not down the road. We are enough and can act from our wholeness, not our lack. Let’s not wait until the new year to make a change. Let’s shine our lights today. No matter what does or doesn’t happen in 2020, we can always come back to what matters. We can always come back to ourselves. 

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