January is a natural time for new beginnings are fresh starts. Although we can make changes any time of year, we may feel more compelled and motivated in January.
When January begins, many of us start thinking of ways we want to improve, things we want to change, and resolutions we want to explore. If you want to start the new year off right, there are three ways to help you create the year (and the life you want).
Let’s explore how to make this our best year ever! And how will we do that? We can all take three steps to move toward what we want.
Several years ago, I had a rough January 1st. I struggled with how to start the new year off right with a positive, can-do attitude. Frankly, I was burnt out. The previous year had been financially challenging, and the setback was hanging over me like a dark cloud.
At the same time, I sat looking at a list of ambitious initiatives, goals, and opportunities that I wanted to tackle in the upcoming year ahead. As I started to prioritize my steps, I felt overwhelmed. Each task seemed like the most important, and I was definitely trying to eat an elephant. We’ve all heard that “it’s easy if you take one bite at a time,” but it’s quite daunting when that immense carcass is looming. I kept telling myself to focus on each bite, taking responsibility to preserve the rest so it would still be fresh for later, but in my mind, I kept wondering how to avoid missing opportunities.
It was this mindset that began my first day of the year. I was challenged, overwhelmed, even despairing. I was haunted by my thoughts and lingering disturbing dreams from the night before. But I got up, ate breakfast, read the paper, and decided to start reviewing our latest book at the time, Transformed! I was preparing for media appearances and a book launch. I was set to go on the nationally syndicated late-night radio show Coast to Coast for three hours on January 10 and 11, so I wanted to be ready.
As I cracked the book and started to review, I hit the section about recognizing deeper yearnings—talk about being bowled over! Right there in front of me, written in black and white, was the answer to my current struggle. I realized that I forgot to walk the walk and follow my own advice.
This was the exact answer I was looking for! I quickly called out to Judith and told her the irony of how much I needed those words right then in my life. We talked about how I needed to practice what we preach by focusing on my immediate yearnings as I went into the new year.
As Judith often wisely does, she asked me a few revealing questions. I discovered that I clearly feared pain and problems in the future rather than choosing to be fully alive in the moment. With Judith’s guidance, I also cleared up some stinking thinking that was knocking around in my head. I realized that my desire for greater financial stability and student flow stemmed from my yearning for fulfilling contact and joy.
The takeaway lesson in this point is that if you want to make the new year great, remember that under every surface want lies a deeper yearning. When we explore our wants and apply the “so that” exercise, we can discover that essential underlying yearning, and our path becomes clearer and focused. We can then re-orient ourselves to move toward what we are really yearning for.
Embracing aliveness always sounds a bit strange at first. After all, we’re all alive, aren’t we? But in this context, aliveness refers to our essence—the foundational principle of play, truth, joy, love, and life. When we hold back and repress ourselves, we’re stifling our sense of aliveness. We’re missing that bubbly force that we exude when we laugh, giggle, cry, or yell. Our expressiveness is linked to our aliveness.
There’s also aliveness when our senses are heightened and our vision is clear and focused. We fix our attention, and the bubbling builds anticipation and excitement into a fountain of possibility and potential. We may discover a sense of aliveness in anticipation of a lover, as a child awaiting the return of a parent, a student eagerly expecting the results of a test. Each moment of our lives is pregnant with possibilities. We often find feelings of loss aversion in these moments—an immobilizing fear of failure or loss that shifts us into autopilot. Our fear may be almost undetectable, but it can hold us back from fulfilling our yearnings.
Our sense of aliveness brings our hunger to the surface. We may feel a hunger for experience, for contact, to see and be seen, to make a difference, or to discover something new. Aliveness brings out our longing for adventure, meaning, fulfillment, and satisfaction.
Now, engaging and moving toward our yearnings can come at a cost. We will inevitably feel hurt when we open ourselves to new possibilities and uncertainties. But in this hurt, we have a greater opportunity to learn and grow. Our awareness of our feelings expands, but so does our capacity for joy.
As you look back at the last twelve months and forward to the future, you may realize there were times you were going through the motions or weren’t really living life as fully as possible. So make the new year great by committing to seek out new experiences, adventures, and opportunities. Push through the fear and approach the world like a child—with curiosity and wonder!
If you want to have the greatest year ever, make this your year of growth! Many of us have been disappointed in the past with seminars, courses, books, lectures, and events that promise us a fresh start. Then, after a month or two, we look back and think, “Well, that was an interesting experience,” and go back to our comfortable habits and patterns.
The thing about growth is that it isn’t a one-time goal. We don’t check it off the list and stop growing. We have to embrace it as a lifelong endeavor. To transform ourselves into who we want to be, we need to awaken to an assignment or task each day. We have to stretch and push ourselves toward continued growth and more mindfulness.
Now imagine if we could go on this journey together, working with a community of like-minded individuals across the country. Imagine everyone supporting each other, connecting, and sharing their experiences as they work on assignments that help them bring out the best in themselves and in all those they meet.
At the Wright Foundation, this is exactly what we offer in our courses. We bring people together, help them connect, and empower them to discover ways to live their best life. Those who participate in our programs push themselves through new challenges based on a principle, concept, or lesson to help them focus their personal development in concert with others in the community.
We’ve built a community of students that encourage each other, inspire each other to have more effective relationships, bring more satisfaction and meaning to each moment, and offer more service to the world. In this community, we’ve maximized the potential for love, enjoyment, satisfaction, and leadership!
If you’re seeking an accessible way to challenge yourself this year and stay connected with others doing the same, take time to explore our courses and community. Follow our blog posts, read our books, or investigate our courses through Wright Now. Make this year the year you begin your journey of self-discovery and start to live your best life!
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.