• Erin Easterly

Get Your S**! Together This Year

Yes, it's time to get your SELF together this year (what did YOU think that title said?). It’s a new decade and the topic of “new year, new you” is headlining. While the month of January offers a clean slate upon which to write your future, have you paused to consider what the “new you” even looks like? Is it supposed to just be a more refined version of your 2019 self?

While you could no doubt run through a litany of situational factors that you would love to see shifted over the coming year (i.e. better job, more money, thinner body, improved relationships, etc) none of these actually have anything to do with a new YOU. Even if all of the desired situational components were simultaneously improved, you would still bring the same old YOU to the job, the spending, or the relationship. In no time at all, your life would likely fall back into familiar patterns of behavior, leading to the same situations. Perhaps it is this tendency to revert to well worn behavioral traits that drives one third of lottery winners to eventually declare bankruptcy.

Situational factors aside, how would YOU like to change this year? While nobody can answer that but you, here are a few questions that might guide your answers.

What pastime can you embrace that is not tied to money or reward?

Remember the days before bills, jobs, to-do lists, car repairs, and maxed out schedules? What did you love to do? How did you spend your free time? Did you paint, sing, dance, run around outside, read books? The pressures of adulthood tend to squeeze passion projects out of the schedule, causing many adults to lose touch with the joys of youth. Most people train themselves to do only things that have a reason or a reward attached. (What a shame because those picnics with the dog brought you a lot of joy.) Whatever it was that lit up your childhood self, can you make a plan to revisit it? Let go of the need to be productive, make money, assess outcomes, and compare yourself to others. Allow yourself to rediscover what you love to do just for the fun of it.

2. What can you do that scares the s**t out of you?

(Now this time it really does say what you think it says!) Right now there is something great that you fantasize about doing. You likely dream of it, though you probably don’t speak of it to many people. You may quietly justify to yourself why you haven’t embarked upon the journey to make your daydream a reality. No doubt, you have your reasons. If those reasons happen to include, “I’d probably never be able to make money doing that,” or “So many people have tried and failed,” or “I might be rejected,” then you’re operating from a FEAR (Fuck Everything and Run!) mentality. Fear never EVER creates the desired results.

Great things are, by their very nature, scary. Yet, fear does not have to keep you from pursuing greatness. Fear can be transmuted into a positive force that allows you to Face Everything and RISE (note the new acronym). Fear and excitement actually produce the same chemical messengers in the body. Rather than labeling fear as such, you could redefine it as excitement. The limbic system won’t know the difference but your brain will. Instead of shutting down critical thinking centers in response to a perceived threat, an excited brain will actually adopt an “opportunity mindset,” so named by Harvard Business School psychologist Alison Wood Brooks. An opportunity mindset will help you to conquer fear, move past barriers, and access your strengths. Chances are good that the more you overcome fear the more likely you are to achieve something meaningful.

3. What behavior are you willing to trade off to become a better person?

You’re not going to become a better version of yourself without some sacrifices. I know, I’s not my normal uplifting message. But it’s true. What are you willing to sacrifice, give up, or trade off in order to bring out the highest and best within you? I’m not talking about external greatness. This is not the place to define the sacrifices that you’re willing to make to achieve greater health, wealth, or security. I’m referring to your eternal soul qualities that are waiting to be expressed. Within you is a reservoir of unconditional love, kindness, gentleness, patience, selflessness, strength, and power. Perhaps you are willing to give up a reactive tongue in favor of peace, greed in favor of generosity, self doubt in favor or faith, or resistance in favor of acceptance. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just choose one ego driven quality that you are ready to sacrifice on the alter of the soul. Then cultivate one pointed focus (drishti) and discipline (tapas) to make it happen.

4. If you could only go home to sleep, what would you do all day, everyday?

If someone told you that you had to be out of your house all day, everyday for a year, what would you do to fill the time? Where would you go? What activities would you engage in? What groups would you join? (No lame answers here like, “I’d go to Starbuck’s and work on my computer.” I’m sure you already do that.) Would you meditate at the beach, go to yoga twice a day, get another degree, find a different job, join a book club, volunteer, write a book? What would you do with all that time? Write down a few answers and then…go out and do some of them! (Extra kudos for you if your activity is not tied to money/rewards AND it scares the shit out of you! There. I said it...because that scared me and I doubt you're going to pay me for it.)

Guess what? Your life situation is not going to improve until you learn to bring out the best within yourself. This year I challenge you to spend more time working on the “new you” than on rearranging your life situation. I guarantee that if you do, by the end of the year not only will you be a better person, the problems in your life will have magically worked themselves out. After all, they’re really just opportunities to become a better person.