The Best Advice I Received for 2016
Most of us reflect on our lives a bit at year end. Sometimes that reflection can make us smile, yet other memories bring sadness or discouragement. I know 2015 was a mixed bag for me.
2015 was a year of great transition and I still haven't fully adjusted. My kids flew the nest, but elder care suddenly took much more of my time. I sold most of my stuff, including the family home that I built. This was the first holiday season not in our old house, plus we lost 2 dear loved ones. Finally we are challenged by a serious health issue for one of the boys.
I am on my feet, but I am unsteady. Odd, but I achieved America's most common goal: I exercised more and I even lost a couple of pounds. Much more importantly, I took care of my family to the best of my ability, having long ago chosen to prioritize them above all else.
Professionally, however, I need to do better. I have reinvented myself at transitions so, so many times that I am exhausted (just see my about section). I am definitely struggling on the business side now that I am faced with the empty nest.
On a good note, last year, I made it my goal to write more for others. Happily that happened. But I discovered first hand an old truth: money talks (um, I mean writes). While for the most part I never dropped the ball when writing for others, I came no where close to achieving my goals for this blog. Once the paid article was done, so was I. So much for a regular blog posting schedule, and (finally!) spending time on Pinterest. And as for the biggie--writing a book, I merely scratched the surface.
So how to do better in 2016? In keeping with my autodidact style, I did some research. Here is what I found.
1, Angela over at Sunday Chapter does an extraordinary job giving us 10 ways to recharge and find happiness in 2016. Her themes are ones you may have heard before, but you are certain to gain something from her persuasive and insightful presentation.
Ha, she even convinced me to buy a life planner. I never had one before. Since my family tends to act like I don't work, I need to get serious about blocking out my professional time. I will get back to you on how that goes in February! Recognizing that I am a bit lonely with my husband away at his very demanding job and the kids off to college, I have taken Angela's words on friendship to heart. Let me know if you want to get together. I would love to cook you dinner (see Ruth Reichl below).
2. Let it go already!!! If its done, its done. Paulo Coelho, highly acclaimed author of The Alchemist, has a lot of worthwhile ideas about closing cycles in life:
"One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through. Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished....Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away...getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place..."
3. Say it Gwyneth. Ya, I know, some of you don't like Goop and Gwyneth Paltrow. Lord knows I wish I could afford to wear what she is wearing (side eye). But the girl has the power to gather the experts and her New Year's Eve edition of Goop is no exception.
In there you will find life advisor Suzannah Galland with more to say on letting go of the past and manifesting the present. It's all about putting out in the universe what you want to get back. Positivity people.
Additionally, GP interviews best-selling author Gretchen Rubin (you know her, she did all that happiness study that resulted in the book The Happiness Project), on her new book on habits, Better than Before. Rubin has taken a hard look at habits and carefully studied how we can ditch the bad ones and acquire the good ones. Isn't that what resolutions are all about after all? Rubin spells it out in her new book, and summarizes her thoughts for Goop.
It turns out that habit making and breaking is not a one size fits all methodology--everyone is unique. Rubin does, however, provide a loose framework grouping people into 4 categories based on how they respond to expectations, their own and others. Resolving to acquire a new habit, is at core setting up a new expectation for yourself. Once you know where you fit, Rubin offers strategies for acquiring good habits best tailored to you.
Turns out I am an "Obliger". I am very good at meeting the expectations of others, but when it comes to myself, fuggettaboutit! So, if I want to adopt a new habit for myself (like working on that book!), I will do best if I am accountable to someone. So now you know my biggest goal and I promise to keep you updated on my progress. See how it works??
Take the quiz to find out how you respond to expectations, and can better adopt new habits. I already have downloaded Rubin's book to my Kindle.
4.Last but so not least, true happiness means finding joy in the simple things in life. Ya, you knew that.
Even so, former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, Ruth Reichl does a masterful job of making you really truly believe it in her latest nonfiction book, My Kitchen Year.Larry got it for me for Christmas and I read it in a day. The recipes sound yummy but the real takeaway is how Reichl got through hardship.
Reichl calls the book a "cookbook" but it is far more than that. She had a terrible year. Gourmet folded and she broke her foot in 5 places requiring surgery and lengthly bed rest. She didn't know what to do next and felt like a failure. Reichl found solace in the kitchen by preparing food. At one point she cooked while sitting on a scooter! Read the book for her rich descriptions of her simple pleasures. They can't help but give you feelings of happiness. She leads by example.
You may not like cooking, but I am sure there are some simple things that brings you joy, if you bother to pay attention. So PAY ATTENTION, and relish those moments. Plus at the end of that terrible year, Reichl managed to write her cookbook, and fulfill a long standing dream of writing a novel. (Hello again, life planner.)
So, true confessions, I don't know if I wrote this post for myself or for you, but I know I now have a plan for 2016. And my life planner hasn't even been delivered yet.
Happy New Year, dear readers.