New Year Resolutions or Revolutions?
Here we are again at the beginning of a New Year and I can’t help but feel a little ‘deja vu’. The years seem to roll round just that little bit quicker which I’m told is a normal change in perception the more time you’ve spent on this earth (Making Time by Steve Taylor, 2008) and sometimes it seems that our resolutions only amount to revolutions around the same old clock. It can be hard to recall what you have actually achieved in the last year and most importantly what you would like to achieve in the coming year. Are your resolutions for 2016 actually very different from the year before? Do you review, reevaluate and resolve to do better, or are promises to keep calm and not yell so much at the kids – just the universal hopes of every parent?
My resolution or word for this year is ‘Pause’
This of course could be read as yet another way of reframing ‘keeping calm and carrying on’ but it’s actually much more than this. I was reminded recently of this fact when talking to a friend who is a therapist. The ‘Pause’ of course is a therapeutic tool that allows us to create a space between action and reaction. Most of us understand by now that no one can make us do, feel or be anything we don’t choose to do, feel or be. The way we react to anything is in our choosing. However, this is much easier to accept theoretically than it is to live realistically. Because years of fine tuning of our neural pathways means when it comes to reaction we’re often so far ahead of the game we’ve hardly had time to draw breath before we’re physically in flight, flight or freeze. Hence we’re yelling AGAIN. This is good enough reason to practice the art of ‘Pause’. In this case taking a moment to step back and ask yourself if the situation you are reacting to is actually a real threat, or is it a conditioned response (an old neural pathway) that is being triggered – is it possible to react in another way?
Pause for me is this and so much more. I imagine it as a point in every passage travelled where you consciously create the possibility of change. It is a metaphorical fork or crossroads. Where you choose to sit down and take a bite of your sandwich and a swig of ginger beer contemplating the signs like so many travellers along the road before. Do you take the sign to the big city or the country, the well-trodden path or the road less- travelled. It is a chance to reflect upon where you have been and where you would like to go. It is the choice I made today to sit down and write this article verses pushing ahead with my ‘to do’ list – which after two weeks holiday is impressively long.
Back in February 1999 I was studying Metaphysics with a group of friends. On this course we were introduced to an exercise called the ‘wheel of fortune’ (or cycle of dreams). In short the idea was to create a ‘Vision Board’ that reflected all your desires, hopes and dreams in the areas of work/career, relationships, health, wealth and happiness. Over several months I collected together images, words, photos, and scraps of paper I had kept for years to create my own small manifesto on what I wanted to do, be and have in my future. Now with all the books on personal development you can find today this might not seem so strange, but to me at the time the idea of wishful thinking seemed delightfully bonkers which helped the process to seem like play. It was so successful that I repeated the process almost exactly ten years later 10 years later just before the birth of my daughter – and yes she’s there in the original.*
Why is this relevant to an article about New Years Resolutions? Because such ‘Vision Boards’ can become excellent tools for ‘Pause’. My original boards took months to create but much more simple examples can provide a focus for any change, goal, or desire. In fact it felt like over the holidays every glossy magazine was urging us to take up our scissors and glue stick to do just that.
I have included some interesting links, but a Vision Board is simply made by using an old white board, or stiff card (I use Ikea frames) generally size A3 or bigger and a pile of old magazines, greeting or post cards, photos, images, words, phrases or best loved poems – that have meaning or interest for you. Some people like to use different mediums like paint, textiles or print to create colour and texture. You can take your time to collect these or give yourself an afternoon only. Then create ‘Pause’ – you need at least 3 hours free time that will not be interrupted. If pushed you can do this over several evenings. Be brave, don’t be afraid to create the time or alternatively if you have younger children let them cut and stick to their hearts content on their OWN board! You can focus your Vision Board on your resolutions for 2016 or a particular goal or time frame. I find it helps me to think about the various areas of my life and include goals to create balance. I usually draw a circle within a circle and divide it into six parts. Relationships, Family, Work-Career, Service, Health & Fitness, Personal Development and in the middle circle I include Spiritual. The most important thing to remember is to have fun and be open. Do not get attached to images of the exact hotel you want to stay in on your trip to Barbados – just let go and see what your heart desires when your mind stops questioning if it’s possible.
Vision Boards, because they are so visual, can also be a great tool for family planning of holidays, special occasions, and helping children to work towards goals of their own. At the end of the year it can be a reflective and fun family activity to review your Vision Boards. I find it helps me keep track and reminds me that I did actually get to do, be and have some great experiences in 2015.
Wishing you prosperity and time to Pause in 2016.
* Disclaimer I believe there is still magic in the Universe but there is no path without presence and responsibility. Take action towards your dreams and desires. You cannot win the metaphorical lottery without a ticket!
Further Information: Useful Links
Create and Connect.org (Luxembourg): 3 Questions to ask yourself before you start 2016
Wikihow: Step-by-step simple guide to making your first Vision Board
Huffington Post: Article about how and why Vision Boards work
Artful Parent: Article about Vision Boards and Parenting
Pinterest: Examples of Vision Boards
Article by: Lynn Frank who is a coordinator for Passage.
Last updated: Tuesday 5th January, 2016