By: Susan Mahoney
It’s that time of year again, full of holiday cheer and the itch to be better, richer, happier, or healthier as we move into the new year. We all know the futility of New Year’s resolutions; however, the new year does offer hope for the human spirit, hope for the new and different.
So, how about focusing on what we can change come Jan. 1—ourselves.
While the potential changes I suggest below won’t immediately make you thinner, more attractive or richer, they can go a long way to help you to be more mindful of your life and perhaps create more peace of mind. And, improved peace of mind supports better clarity and focus for interactions with customers, team members and personal relationships. A good place to start the new year.
Our Self Awareness
We all know that self-awareness is important. The secret to developing self-awareness is learning to observe yourself and to be as aware as possible in the present moment. For example, if you find yourself being judgmental, stop and observe. It’s not about being judgmental; it’s about observing your process when you judge. It’s not about your desire to differentiate yourself; it’s noticing what leads you to believe that you aren’t differentiated at that moment. Your experience is not what happens to you, but what you do internally with what happens to you. You can train yourself to pause long enough to activate your self-observer. This elusive observer:
- Always observes in the present. You can’t notice the past; you can only remember it.
- Always observes the self.
- Always observes without judgment. It simply notices what you are doing so you can then make choices.
Our thoughts don’t need to control us. Meditation teaches that although thoughts pass through our brain, we don’t need to dwell on them or try to control them. We can simply acknowledge them with self-awareness, then make a choice. Even when we know that ruminating thoughts aren’t productive, we typically don’t know how to escape them.
Improved self-observation and self-awareness is an excellent place to begin to train ourselves to reframe our thoughts toward a more positive or productive path.
When we are anxious and reactive, we usually aren’t very creative or strategic. Reactivity is a trigger that can short-circuit our resilience like a blown fuse shuts down an electrical circuit. Learning to be self-aware, reframing our thoughts and making different choices are all practices that are within our control to master.
With increased self-awareness, we can choose how we manage life’s challenges consciously. Instead of reacting on autopilot to challenging situations, we can choose to respond more consciously.
When we pause long enough with self-awareness, we can make a choice.
How might our business choices be different if we practiced this discipline? Might our internal team discussions have better outcomes if we practiced this discipline? How could making conscious decisions affect our family life? All our actions are choices and choices have consequences.
This new year, focus your resolutions on what behaviors, thoughts, and choices you can change, and you will put yourself on a path of personal and professional development with results that are sustainable.