Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Resolutions Simplified

#truelove #allowing #dating GPS for the Soul - The Huffington Post New Year's Resolutions Simplified

It's officially the new year. And that means one thing: obsessive thoughts about how we're going to change.

There's this unmistakable, on-going longing in us to better ourselves. And it shows up strong every January.

I bet if you close your eyes you can feel it right now.

show millions of us will make resolutions to change this month. With willpower running high, and the Twitterverse abuzz with people talking up how they're going to transform, we each make our list. All the ways we're going to grow, learn and improve.

The weight we will lose, the eating habits we'll improve, the debt we will pay off, the books we will finish and the new job we'll land.

And along with the willpower surge, we start to feel performance-anxiety surging too.

Now we've got to throw out the Doritos, figure out how to eat Paleo, get to the gym regularly, create a budget and actually follow it and fill out profiles on Linked In and

Life picks up pace after the holidays and before we know it, we've missed a week at the gym. We're stopping at Steakmy job is to stay in a focused, submitted position before the One who creates, redeems and transforms.

My aim now is to do something about one thing each year, rather than nothing about everything. Interestingly, I've found that my one word always spills over into unexpected areas of my life and character -- it changes me in ways I never thought about when choosing that word.

So while I zero in with laser-like focus on this one thing, the positive effects ripple outward.

Have you been thinking about the ways in which you want to change? Making self-promises about loosing 15 pounds, giving up diet soda, organizing your closets, reading through the Bible in a year, getting up earlier and never running late again?

We have to stop expecting a whole-life overhaul to happen in the first three weeks of each new year. We also have to learn how to take the pass/fail pressure off, without putting the brakes on our efforts to grow and change.

I suggest taking a one-word approach to 2014. What have you got to loose, besides a list of broken promises and feelings of ineffectiveness?

Pick a word, let it become your lens, and watch what unfolds.

Learn more at and post your one word for 2014 -- you can receive monthly reminders to focus on your word. Or pick up a copy of .

Have you chosen a word for 2014 yet? Even if Not Flashy, Any Work That Benefits Humanity Has Value By Tom Cavanagh

UCF Forum columnist

I have had the privilege to twice witness presentations by Sir Ken Robinson. If you are not familiar with his work, Robinson is famous for research related to creativity development and educational reform, and he has the (a popular website featuring interesting and inspiring video presentations). He is smart, funny and his insights really resonate with me.

So I have recently been reading his best-known work, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. In it, Robinson explores how to find your "element," which is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. It is the activity that allows you to be your most authentic self.

To illustrate his concept, Robinson uses a variety of real-world examples and case studies.

Frankly, I have been surprised by my own reaction to the book. On one hand, I wholeheartedly agree with his premise, which is consistent with the adage that if you find work that you love, you will never work a day in your life.

I agree with his references to developmental psychologist Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. In my own experience, I have seen how people are intelligent in many different ways. I appreciate his observations about childhood creativity and how the traditional school system in many ways discourages rather than encourages true creativity.

And yet

While reading I find myself growing a bit weary of Robinson's parade of prominent examples. He leans heavily toward the arts, which makes some sense since he feels that they are undervalued in our traditional educational system; however, rather than be inspired by his tales of famous actresses, athletes, musicians, choreographers cartoonists and physicists, I can't help, but feel a bit discouraged for all of the many unsuccessful people out there who feel that those pursuits really are their elements.

Let's face it, reaching the pinnacle of a highly competitive profession such as acting or sports is so rare as to be unrealistic for the vast majority of people who pursue it. Just nine in 10,000, or .09 percent, of high school senior football players are ever drafted by an NFL team. The ideas of the starving writer and the waitress-wannabe-actress have become such truisms as to border on being clich s. There simply aren't enough of these jobs for all of the people who believe that those are their elements.

I can't help, but feel that in Robinson's utopian vision we will all be wildly successful pursuing the most creative of our inner passions. We will be a society of sculptors, dancers musicians and writers. But then I wonder, who will be left to drive the taxis for all of these successful artists? Who will file their insurance claims? Who will fix their leaky roofs? Who will clean their public toilets? There doesn't seem to be any room in Robinson's vision for the quotidian work of daily life. Society would be like an unbalanced ecosystem with too many herbivores and too few predators. Such an ecosystem is unsustainable.

I am all for people pursuing their passions. I have published three novels and won some awards for writing. If I could, I would probably choose to write fiction all day long. But that simply isn't realistic.

However, I have a job I truly enjoy, working in UCF's distance education where I honestly believe that I am making a difference in people's lives, helping to provide greater educational access. I can still write novels in my spare time, satisfy my creative interests, and not have to be John Grisham to feel like my authentic self.

The main problem I have with Robinson's examples is the implication that there is somehow less value in the less glamorous work. I simply disagree with that. Just because someone was unable to become the Broadway musical star they always dreamed of and instead chose to sell insurance doesn't mean that there is any less societal value associated with their work. Perhaps there is actually more value in the effort since they work hard, offer a service needed by many, provide for their family, and contribute to society in significant, but completely unrecognized ways.

According to St. Benedict and the monastic order he founded, there is dignity in all work, especially manual labor. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted as saying quite eloquently, "If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'" King also said, "No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

I doubt that the street sweepers that King had in mind felt called to the profession as their element. But that doesn't diminish from the dignity of the work and the value that it provides to society. Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life comes to mind. George Bailey never traveled the world or built the great structures he yearned to construct. But by doing the small, mundane, everyday work of life, as unglamorous as it may have seemed, he was able to make a positive and lasting impact on society.

The world was a better place for having George Bailey in it, complete with all the choices he made.

Now, having said all this, I am still a great fan of Robinson's work. I would encourage you to watch his TED Talk and read The Element. By all means, be creative and pursue your passions. Write that book. Paint that canvas. Audition for that role. I hope you succeed beyond your wildest imagination.

However, just know that even if you don't end up winning the Nobel Prize, an Olympic medal, or an Oscar, you still make a real difference every day.

And that's worth celebrating.Tom Cavanagh is the University of Central Florida's associate vice president of distributed learning. He can be reached at 5 Steps to Turn 2014 Resolutions into Results "So, did you make any New Year's resolutions?" Caitlin asked on New Year's Eve as we were getting the Champagne out of the refrigerator. We all have dedicated some time wondering about what we would like to see happening in our live this year. The list might include the weight we want to lose, the more time we want to share with friends and family, the steps we will take in our career, etc. Chances are, the list looks pretty much like the one we wrote last year around this same time.

HOW CAN WE TURN RESOLUTIONS INTO RESULTS, ALLOWING OUR LIVES TO MAKE A LEAP FORWARD? At the dawn of the new year, let me suggest 5 helpful, easy and fun steps you can follow to get a successful life in 2014. I have adapted them from the designed in the 1980s by David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney. I have successfully used this framework in facilitating strategic planning, brainstorming, and conflict resolution for organizations and community, as well in leadership coaching for executives and artists.

FIRST STEP: DEFINE. Reflect on what you would like to accomplish in 2014. Take a note pad and make a list. Write down everything that occurs to you, event the most unlikely ideas that spring up into your mind. Looking at the list you generated, see what the common theme is. Write it as if it is the title of a book or of a movie. Here is some example. 2014: The Year in Which I Got Clarity of Life-Purpose, 2014: The Year I Found Love, 2014: The Year I Doubled My Salary, etc.

SECOND STEP: DISCOVER. Reflect about a peak moment in your life. What made it possible? What motivated you? What gave you passion? What did you accomplish? What were you proud of? What were people saying about you and about what you did? Remember that moment. Feel it. Celebrate it. Now think about other positive experiences in your life? What do these experiences have in common? What has worked for you in the past? Write your observations down and ask yourself: how can I apply what I have highlighted about my peak moments in the past, to what I want to accomplish in 2014?

THIRD STEP: DREAM. This is a powerful step. It will increase your awareness and your self-confidence. In sport it is used to help athletes to achieve peak performance. To dream is to imagine. To imagine is to see and to feel your goal as already achieved; you create the vivid image of your achieved goal in your mind. And to see is to believe. If you create a positive, powerful and palpable image of your goal, your subconscious mind will lead you to its manifestation. Now focus on the theme you chose for this year and allow your mind to dream, without wondering about the obstacles and the efforts that it takes to fulfill it. Imagine your dream as already manifested by the end of the year. How will you feel on December 31, 2014? What happened during this year that allows your dream to be fulfilled? What have you accomplished? Be like a child who believes that everything is possible. What is 2014 calling for you to be? What is the inspiration for your life in 2014?

FOURTH STEP: DESIGN. After you became aware of what made you powerful in the past and after you created a positive and powerful image of your desired 2014, now you can design the choices and the actions that during the upcoming weeks and months will turn your dream in the results you want to experience. What are you priorities? What would make your dream come true? What small actions would you like to turn into new habits? What actions do you need to take in order to incorporate elements of your dream into your life?

FIFTH STEP: DESTINY. Now is the time to move on. Reflect for a moment about how you are already living your dream. Consider what you would like to do more of in 2014 to come closer to your dream. What commitments are you ready to make? What motivates you now? What's your next step?

Someone once said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. My wish for you at the dawn of this new year is to be the creator of your own destiny for 2014 and the years to come. Happy new year? A New Twist on the Old Resolution TRAIN TO PLAY. MAKE PLAY TRAINING. That was my promise to myself when I retired from competitive sport following the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. I didn't want to be obsessed about training any more, but if it dropped a foot of powder, I wanted to be able to ski hard all day and not be sore the rest of the week. After seven Paralympic Games and 15 years of bringing my shorts and sneakers to the mountain so that I could go directly to the gym on the way home, waking up at five o'clock to train in my racing chair before I went to the mountain, or doing double sessions during the summer to the point that I felt like someone had hit me with a baseball bat across the top of my shoulders, I wanted a break. My plan worked for a while, but guilt scolded me from on high. As an athlete I'd suspended my adolescence until the night of my 36th birthday, coincidentally the night of the Athens closing ceremonies, retiring only because I felt that I needed a clean break so that I could start whatever I was going to do as an adult. I had loved every moment of my self-indulgent athletic life and could easily backslide. It was the Tom Sawyer quote by Mark Twain, "Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of what a body is not obliged to do."

After a lifetime of play, guilt demanded obligation. I worked from early morning until late at night because that's what I felt a grownup was supposed to do. Last year I spent 270 days on the road -- all of which threw my promise to train to play and make play training off its axis.

At the end of 2012 I feared the promise of three to six months of recovery from shoulder surgery. Years of overuse along with guilt spinning my plan off its axis had rendered my left arm almost useless. I could barely lift myself off the couch or into my car. The one time I skied, my arm felt like it was going to fall off. On New Year's Eve I resolved to be healthy in 2013. My shoulder threatened my quality of life, accelerating the aging process to sedentary at 45, but it wasn't just my shoulder. My stomach, which often feels like I've swallowed a bowling ball, has dragged me down for at least 10 years. Frequent rounds of antibiotics have stripped both the good and bad in my gut. In attempts to heal my stomach, I have consulted doctors. I've used fiber, psyllium, and probiotics. I researched candida. I fasted, cleansed and cut out gluten. Nothing made me feel better. A few things made me feel less worse, if that makes any sense.

As I approach the end of 2013, I'm happy to say that through platelet replacement therapy (PRP) I avoided surgery on my shoulder, which now feels at least 90 percent and gets stronger every day. I've already skied three days with no worry about my arm falling off, but I'm stressed that my health resolution remains unresolved because of my stomach. Despite a very encouraging end of year visit to a Chinese medicine doctor I worried I would miss my deadline when I remembered something my good friend Bill Chaffee said. Each year on his birthday he adds a good habit. Maybe he's hit on the problem with New Year's Resolutions. They're usually about cutting something out -- about engaging that guilt that can be so damaging -- instead of adding something good -- making something better and better is a lifetime pursuit that is not bound by the Gregorian calendar.

With the long term in mind, I'm going to target that guilt. 2013 was about getting healthy. My 2014 resolution will be to achieve balance. Train to Play. Make Play Training. was a brilliant stroke, if I do say so myself. The Dalai Lam, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered:

"Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

This fall, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I cleaned out all of my email boxes. Woohoo moment, right? But I don't think getting to zero was what the Dalai Lama meant about living. Living is the moments that stress and stretch -- the moments that we look back on and say that's the best part, and no I don't want to do it again. Living is the spectrum of emotion. To struggle is human. I don't just want to do what obligation tells me to do. I want to live, and that means finding the balance to play -- to do what a body is not obliged to do. Last year was physical, and this year is mental. Next year, I'll add another layer to the work in progress.
Full Post

No comments:

Post a Comment