– Zora Neale Hurston
Zora had a point. We all may start off each new year with our to-do and to-don’t lists, our resolutions, our diet plans, our financial makeovers, travel itineraries and dreams for the upcoming year, but somewhere things always seem to go a little off course.
There’s a reason why gym memberships and weight loss centers see a spike in memberships in January and a decline just a few months later. Humans just seem to operate that way. What seems ‘good’ or ‘right’ or ‘popular’ in one moment can quickly fade to black in another.
Today’s world is creating a culture that allows and even encourages shallow thinking. Instant messaging, texting, information at our fingertips and the ability to lose ourselves in games, videos and social media that we carry in our pockets fosters constant mind chatter. Working parents and over scheduled kids find it easier to succumb to these temptations, seduced by the images and messages of what ‘we’ should be like, look like, and act like. Sadly, many of these icons are just as lost as the people who are finding solace in their stories.
Perhaps what we need to do most is re-look at the way we see ourselves. By focusing on the ‘issues’ we see in our lives we deny the deeper, richer, more powerful parts to surface. Comparing ourselves to some media enhanced ideal of the perfect mother, father, parent, student, child, family or athlete surely places us in a state of lack. Instead, finding solitude and time alone may allow us to relax and listen for what is really meaningful and valuable, and give us a chance to question what is missing in our lives.
What if we intentionally go into this new year to either ask for questions or search for answers in our lives? What if we push aside all the lists and resolutions and instead resolve to look within? What if we spent 10 minutes a day on ourselves, in solitude, asking and listening for answers and resolving to trust in the messages we receive? What would happen? Would that be scary? What would shift in our lives?
This year, let’s set ourselves up for success. Throw out that resolution list and instead use that time to plan a daily session of solitude. Ask questions. Listen for the answers. Choose this year to be the one that makes a difference.
You might just amaze yourself.