Looking ahead to a new year of potential

This time of year, we’re given the darkest nights and the shortest days, leading toward less physical but perhaps more mental activity. The weather also conspires to drive us inside, both physically and emotionally.  This is a traditional time to look inward, contemplating the year past and considering the one we have before us.

It seems cliche, but new year tends to be the starting line for my personal change projects.  Reading through my journal, you can find lists of resolutions, and, especially when I was younger, these lists were really long and full of optimism and naivety.   Most years, I failed to scratch a line through even 20% of what I laid down on paper.   This would tend to lead not to a celebration of those accomplishments, but a depression based on the other 80%, the failures.  At some point, for several years, I stopped doing resolutions because it seemed like such a futile exercise.  And really it was, at least the way I was doing it.

I couldn’t stay away forever, though.  Seems like I am wired to do the solstice to new years soul searching and goal defining exercises. When I came back to it, I was more disciplined, keeping my list small and with specific, well defined goals.  I had learned the lesson that vague goals tend to lead to vague plans, which don’t lead to much of anything.

And so, here I am again, rounding the corner from one year to the next, giving into that same old urge to pick through the events of one year and consider my plans for the next.  This is also the time of year gardeners plan for spring planting and fall harvest.  What seeds do I want to plant so that I have something to harvest in 2012?  And it’s not just about browsing seed catalogs and getting seduced by the eye candy of luscious blossoms and ripe fruit.  There is work to be done before we walk outside with seeds in hand.  Gardens must be prepared, sometimes repaired, before we put our plans in motion.

So what kind of creative garden space do I need in order to harvest something meaningful out of the year?  What does that garden plot look like?  How deep is deep enough?  What are my requirements for sunlight, air and irrigation?

My ideal space for cultivating creativity includes natural light and quiet.  This year I feel very strongly that I need to figure out how to make and hold space for myself, enough space that I can settle into a process, focus and produce work that I am proud to call my own.  Besides light and quiet, my basic requirements for accomplishing goals are time, energy and focus (TEF).  Certainly some goals have specific material requirements, but in my life those tend to be easier to come by than TEF.  Adequate sleep, exercise and good nutrition will help with the energy requirement.  Quiet will help me with my focus, though once I’m on track with a project, I can focus through a lot of chaos and noise, so it’s a matter of pushing past that initial unfocused stage in the beginning.

Time.  That’s the big one, the hard one, but I’m tired of being intimidated by it.  Time is a bit of a bully, it swaggers around talking about how important it is, how nothing will happen without it.  I really need to make Time my bitch this year.

I can’t create more time, I can only use it differently, and that brings me back to focus. As I said, I’m great at focusing once I get far enough into a project.  Until I reach that point, I’m like the dog on Up!  Every squirrel, or squirrel like thing, that floats past my vision pulls my attention away from the task at hand.  Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, glances at chat windows, all can provide something to distract me from the task at hand.  So one skill to work on is becoming focused more quickly.

All of these elements contribute to creating a space for growth.   I’m hoping for creative and skills based growth, as well as emotional and spiritual growth.  I’m actively seeking inspiration for interior growth, looking to deeper and older wisdom, knowledge that isn’t just thought based, but that which can be felt in my heart and gut and bones.  I’m seeking to understand and love myself better, hoping that will help me understand and love others better, which should help me enjoy this life more.

There is a lot of competition for my attention in this world — people, places, experiences, things.  I have a lot of internal conflict over priorities, sometimes that conflict shuts me down completely.  I’m hoping to find a path that leads me to greater clarity and enjoyment in life.

I’m a driven, ambitious person.  I expect a lot from myself.  I’m very hard on myself when I fail to meet my expectations.  I don’t always celebrate my accomplishments as I should.  I’d like to find a balance between striving and enjoying. This has been my battle for a long time.  I strive for balance, while struggling with competing interests and demands on my time and energy.

For the moment, I’m going to hold back on putting specific targets down on paper.  For the time being, I want to think about how to set myself up for success, no matter what those resolutions might be.

As always, feedback from you is welcome and encouraged.  Are you a resolution setter?  How have you fared in years past with accomplishing those goals?  Got any secrets/warnings to share?



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