January feels like it should be a time for renewal and transformation. Yet, if we take our cue from the natural world, in the Northern hemisphere we are mid-winter, which is all about slowing down, turning inward and rest.
This may explain why the annual battle to get fit, lose weight and change habits feels like a bit of an uphill struggle. Have you also noticed how your energy for exercise and transformation feels much more buoyant in the spring? So perhaps this year, instead of listing your resolutions this month, might I invite you to turn inward and consider these 5 reflections instead…
1. What did 2020 teach you about life, love, and what is important?
The wisdom traditions point to the purpose of adversity, conflict, and hardship as doorways to both self-knowledge and insight. The teachings reveal that we need the bitterness as well as the sweetness of life. In fact, this recipe of ups and downs gives life its full flavour.
It is therefore our very human vulnerabilities that give us access to the fleeting preciousness of every day and our commitment to living, powered by the inevitability of our own demise. In this way the energies of transformation, and the birth/death cycle inspires our ambitions, hopes and dreams.
So what did 2020 reveal for you? And if you had ordered 2020 on Amazon – how many stars would you give it in your online review?
2. How ready are you to embrace your shadow?
As Carl Jung teaches: ‘One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.’
So it is true that you will never grow as a professional, particularly when you take on management and leadership responsibilities, if you are not open to seeing, understanding, and overcoming the shadow aspects of your personality.
Your shadow nature, rather than being your burden is the doorway you must use to access your gifts and super-powers. If you are not sure what your shadow characteristics are, ask the people you are closest to for some friendly constructive feedback or ask yourself what negative traits have been pointed out by others, which you find difficulty accepting… Perhaps 2021 is the time to embrace the shadow a little closer and find your way through the darkness into the light of your own increased awareness.
3. In what new ways will you bring awareness to your work this year?
The process of human endeavour on the surface appears to be all about progress whether it be technological, industrial, or social, but really the hunger of the human species arises from the desire to know and experience itself fully. Eckhart Tolle says that we all have the same ultimate purpose which is to awaken. We do this in our own ways by increasing our capacity to hold more truth within awareness.
We can see this play out currently as the world grapples with an increasingly urgent environmental calamity. The facts of this have been known for decades, perhaps over a century, yet only now is there enough stable intentional awareness of the issue that we can begin to deal with it seriously.
So on a local level and within your own relationships what are you ready to bring more awareness to this year?
4. What have you been waiting to feel ready to talk about?
Over the years I have realised that much of my work is about giving people the language, confidence, and skills to have difficult conversations about important topics. We all struggle with this. Our desire to bond and please works against us here – it is often just easier not to say anything. Yet, years of silence creates mistrust and distance. So this year, what difficult discussions can you prioritise and how can you set yourself up to represent yourself with integrity and lead with compassion in those conversations?
5. Having been through 9 months of disruption and given your new routine, what do you need more of and less of to feel balanced, healthy and well this year?
This question is all about self-nurture and self-compassion. How can you best serve your own needs and by doing so increase the amount of care you are ready and able to visit upon those around you? All conscious leaders know that dedication to their own wellness is foundational to their best output. What do you need?
Here’s to the emergence of conscious awareness in your life and work in 2021!
By Neil Seligman
Here are a few more lessons you might want to reflect on from 2020: 2020: A Year in Review – 5 Lessons We Will Remember