It’s that time again, when we sit poised at the edge of a new year wondering where the last one disappeared to and contemplating what the next one will bring.
Some of us are tired, feeling out of control having worked or partied too hard. Some of us are bored, looking for others to entertain us having not spent enough time finding our flow. And some of us are frustrated having let another year pass without taking the initiative to drive our lives forward and shape them the way we want them to be.
Spending time now to focus your intent for the next year can help to avoid letting another one slip away, which is what I was fortunate enough to do on the summer solstice at a ceremony hosted by Beáta Alföldi. The exercises were so simple and powerful, I thought I’d share a variation on them here so you all might have the opportunity to set yourself up for a magical 2018.
There are 4 questions then a final exercise to be done with intent (not just mentally as you read through this). You might want to flick through the previous year’s calendar before you start, or mentally walk yourself through each of the months remembering the highlights.
Find a space that feels sacred to you, then take the time to ponder each question separately. Consider writing them on separate cards or paper to hold as you do. Read them aloud, then close your eyes, breathe to ground yourself, and wait for the answer that bubbles up - not the one you think is appropriate.
When you have answered all four questions, centre yourself again, reflect on the answers that came up, then ask for one or two words to best describe what you need to cultivate to: build on what made you proud; strengthen your resolve not to tolerate what doesn’t benefit you; and help you achieve what you want from next year.
The greater your intent, the more power this phrase will hold for you. You can also energise your commitment to yourself and your new year by bringing the phrase into form. Do it in a way that is significant to you that will keep it in mind for the year. Consider writing it on the bathroom mirror, setting it as your phone wallpaper, planting something in your garden to symbolise it, or creating your own artwork featuring the phrase. Whatever you choose, do it with focus and intent to support you having a magical and masterful 2018.
In health and happiness,
My thanks to Beáta Alföldi for hosting the Solstice ceremony and creating the space to reflect on and celebrate last year, and mindfully move forward into the next.
“Next steps” is a phrase anyone working in the business world is familiar with. You present something that you’re working on, and the question at the end is always “where to next?” At work it’s easy, you look at the goal and work backwards from there to determine the steps to take.
Why then, do we feel this is so much more difficult to do with our lives? We feel we’re ready and wanting to move forward, but we’re not sure which direction to take.
Agile is another common business phrase. When used correctly, it means to try something one way and if it doesn’t work out to try again a different way. That’s it! Previously people referred to this as failing. It’s only failure if you stop.
If you review what happened, adjust your approach and have another go, it’s learning. If you do this several times it’s experience, and often success.
So how do you apply that to your life when you’re uncertain of where you want to end up? Simple, you just try something new. Anything, it doesn’t really matter so I suggest choosing something fun.
As well as acquiring a different skill, learning something new:
There is always value in learning. Even if you’re learning things you think won’t lead anywhere, they can still help to inform you of the direction you don’t want to go in.
There are countless ways to learn new things: DIY projects mean researching materials and techniques, which might help you understand why some tradies charge so much. You can learn at workshops, through books, the internet, free courses, community colleges, or your local library.
Don’t know what to start with, start with you. Work on yourself, find out how to create joy, or improve your physical and mental health. Learn ways to motivate yourself - for me, waking up five years from now without moving forward is more scary than trying and failing at anything.
If you want a change, it’s up to you to make it but you have to start. Sitting around waiting until you’re sure of your next step will bring success in one area – getting older, and you still won’t know what you want to do.
Not having time is not an excuse either. If you don’t have time today and you don’t do anything differently you’re not going to create more hours in your week, you’ll only be creating less years in your life.
Find the time, reprioritise your commitments, push yourself outside that comfort zone and find yourself a challenge. Because if you don’t the Universe will, and it will probably be based on all the scary stuff you’ve been focussing on rather than all the wonderful things you could be trying.
Life is an adventure. Don’t spend it deciding how you’re going to participate. Play, experiment, be brave, fail spectacularly. If you don’t end up where you planned you will have had a loads of fun getting there.
Don't believe me? Check out this great example where a hospitality course led to a dream job in aged care:
I used to say a great way to assess what you want to do in life is to imagine what you’ll enjoy looking back on when you’re 80. But these days, as I hear of so many people spending hours binging on television, absorbed in playing computer games, or working in jobs they hate, I’ve decided a five year review and rewrite might be better.
By review I don’t mean wallowing in all that went wrong and getting bogged down in feeling like a victim about it, that’s not going to help anyone. Nor do I mean ticking off a big scorecard of achievements. The reason for the review is to reflect on how far you've come, how happy you’ve been, and to note the stand out things that you’d like to do more of or change.
Take a minute now and think back on the last five years. How much time did you spend doing what you love? What could you have done less of? If you’re not happy with what comes up then you’d better start to consider how you’re going to spend the next five years, or at the end you’ll have a whole decade you’re disappointed with.
Now, imagine yourself looking back five years from now. How do you feel? What memories did you create? Were you learning? Were you growing? Did you make safe plans and fearfully cling to the results, or did you try new things and then laugh at how differently they turned out compared to what you expected?
We all know life is about the journey, but if you never take the car out of the driveway you’re not going to see much. However, if you focus on a destination, head towards it and follow the signs along the way, you might end up where you wanted to. Or, you might end up somewhere different with more knowledge gained along the way. Or you just might end up somewhere too wonderful for you to have ever imagined.
Why not take ten minutes now to start driving your life? Grab a pen and paper, find a spot where you feel indulgently comfy, and sit and write as if it were five years from now. Write a review of how fabulous the last five years have been. Begin something like “It’s date, I’m in city/country, and have just finished/am about to start.... The last five years have been amazing because…”
Write about what you’ve learned about yourself and others and how you used that insight to shift areas of your life and mould it into something wonderful. Write the story you want to happen. Don’t waste another day waiting for something to change. Write yourself a future.
"I’ve come across two quotes this week about being perfect. Well actually about not being perfect. The first was from Layne Beachley - “done is better than perfect”. She was referring to not delegating because you believe you’re the only one who will do something properly. Apart from this resulting in you thinking you have to do everything, you’ll probably also tell yourself a pretty good story about not having enough support.
The other quote from Simon Sinek was “progress is more important than perfection”. It’s very easy to let the inner critic run wild when you don’t get something quite right, especially when you're learning something new. You might not get the desired result as soon as you'd like, but if you’re improving that’s enough. As Mr Wonderful likes to say “an 80% improvement is a lot better than what you started with”.
Don Miguel Ruiz in his best-selling book The Four Agreements gave us another way of looking at things. He said “always do your best" and with this he pointed out that your best will vary day to day. One day you might be able to scale a mountain and another you might just want to curl up with a book and listen to the rain. If you honour how you’re feeling on the day, you’ll probably do a great job of getting through that book.
So that’s my take away from the Universe dishing up two better than perfect quotes. On those days when I have a dozen things in mind to do and it’s stinking hot and I lose all motivation, it’s alright. There will be other days like today, when I wake refreshed and bounding with energy and run at the world and I find my best is better than it usually is and there’s really no need to strive for perfect.
Perfect isn’t about the way we do things like clean house, or write a report, or cook a meal. Perfect is a sunrise, a magpie’s song, or a cooling breeze. It’s nature and we’re part of that - and I can’t think of anything more perfect.
In story we study what’s known as the the hero's journey. We set up a main character with a significant character flaw, then put them through a sequence of events that challenge their weakness. As the story progresses the challenges become greater, allowing the audience to sit back and watch our character become stronger and eventually overcome their weakness.
Life is much the same.
Before we take a skinsuit for our earthwalk we reflect on what we've learnt in previous lifetimes, then deliberately choose a path that will challenge us in the area in which we're trying to grow. While in spirit form we make deals with others who offer to come and help us with our lessons. These agreements are well understood at a higher level. For example, if we need to learn about self sufficiency and resilience, they might agree to manifest in our lives as someone who leaves us. However when this happens in our physical form, and our memories of the agreement are gone, we feel devastated, deserted, and the first time it happens we will often fall into a victim or ‘why me’ mindset.
As with the character in our story, if we stay in this place nothing good comes of it. We simply wallow in self pity and fail to get the lesson. However, when we pick ourselves up and get back on track we find that all is not lost, and we are a little wiser and stronger as a result.
Like a story our lives go on, and when we fail to get the lesson we are often faced with an even bigger challenge next time, which should make what we are trying to learn more obvious. But, as the main character in our story, we are often too deep in the minutiae to get the perspective to see what the pattern is telling us.
What did I come here to learn? How can I grow from this situation? What specific thing can I do differently this time to change the outcome? These are the questions that help to lift us out of the detail whenever we find ourselves feeling disappointed, let down, or leaning towards a victim mindset.
When we have the courage to reflect on life in this way, believing we create our own situations, then we find we also have the strength to try to handle things differently. This approach enables us to shift our focus to what type of person we want to have become by the end of our story, and what challenges we would like to have faced and overcome.
We are well equipped to handle challenges, it's in our nature. We just need to choose them wisely. We must realise we are only answerable to ourselves and choose challenges for the result they will have on our personal and spiritual growth, not based on any other external factor. With this focus we can face them all knowing we have the strength to get through them and the resilience to try again if we don't.
The only difference between us and our character hero is that we have a choice over how quickly we choose to grow.
The movie Groundhog Day is a great metaphor for how the Universe teaches us. Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is sick of the world and stuck in a town he doesn’t appreciate. He becomes trapped, waking to the same song on the radio each day, and having all the same situations play out - until he gets the lessons.
Life is much the same. Before we take our skin suit we work out what it is that we want to learn during this earth walk and, while we’re here, the Universe orchestrates situations to help us learn.
Often it feels frustrating. We forget our grand plan or our higher purpose and get bogged down in the physical manifestation of things until we finally hear ourselves think “why does this keep happening to me?” If you’ve ever posed yourself that question, read on. If not, congratulations and keep learning.
The seven Huna principles is just one approach to breaking patterns and, as with most things, it’s pretty effective. Hold a pattern you would like to change in your awareness, then gently reflect on it using each of the seven principles.
The world is what you think it is
If you tell yourself you’re stuck, then you are. Try instead to think of your life as a story, where each situation or character in has been created to help you learn something.
Reflection: What is this pattern trying to teach you?
There are no limits
The world is full of unimaginable abundance. Your capacity to learn and grow is limitless. Each time you approach the same situation you do it from a higher perspective, with more knowledge from your previous attempts.
Reflection: What knowledge or skills have you gained so far to help break this pattern?
Energy flows where attention goes
If you keep focussing on what doesn’t work, on the patterns that keep repeating rather than on how you want your life to unfold, you are effectively feeding them.
Reflection: How much time do you spend trying to inhabit how you would like to feel?
Now is the moment of power
We all have a finite number of days left on this earth walk. Tomorrow you will have one less. Don’t waste them thinking about what’s wrong or wishing for things to be different. Today you must act, even if it is just to write down your plan.
Reflection: What action can you take today to make this shift? How will you incorporate taking one step in that direction every day?
Love means to be happy with
The only person you need to be happy with is you. Taking action to break patterns that don’t serve you or taking a risk to chase your dream takes courage but, regardless of the outcome, you can be happy with yourself for doing your best.
Reflection: If you have identified a pattern be happy with yourself for becoming aware (don’t beat yourself up for repeating it).
All power comes from within
We are all different (thank goodness). What others may think is important is only what they see from their perspective, it has no relevance to you. You have your own higher purpose in this life and it is up to you to go within and tap into what it is that truly makes you happy.
Reflection: What would do if no-one else mattered? That is the clue to finding what you are here for.
Effectiveness is the measure of truth
The only failure is not to try. The worst that can happen is that something won’t work as you planned. When that happens, it simply means that wasn’t the most effective method but you have learned something else to help you reach your dream another way.
Reflection: What can you do differently to change the pattern?
These simple reflections, pondered in relation to what you want to change, can help to identify what it is that holds a pattern in place. Awareness is the key to breaking the pattern, so reflect and become the observer. See what works and what if triggering repeat situations and eventually, like Phil the weatherman, you can make different choices that break the pattern and start your day with a new song.
Do you know what you want? I mean really know what you want? A lot of people don’t.
I don’t mean the next shiny thing, or bit of stuff, or gadget. I mean what sort of life do you want? What are the experiences you’d like to have?
After last month’s drum circle spirit journey, a friend came back having been told quite clearly to “ask for what you want”. This doesn’t just relate to interacting with people, it’s perfect guidance on how to manifest the life you want.
Before we bought our townhouse we lived twelve years in a one bedroom flat with no balcony. The flat was awesome, it had a huge three-panelled north-facing window but I always described it as having no balcony. Not resentfully, more wistfully, thinking wouldn't it be lovely to sit outside with a cup of tea. But since our next place was to be a house, I didn’t expect we would ever end up with one.
As the years passed, saving for and planning our move, I had other ‘wouldn't it be lovely’ thoughts: to live in a newish house not an old one like we could afford; to live somewhere less busy than the suburbs we were searching. I daydreamed of a cat that would visit, although I didn’t want to own one; and of living near the water - assuming it would be a bay or river. I even reminisced about the kooky slanted ceilings I grew up with, but when it came to our house buying shopping list none of these items were on it.
We made our list around more practical things like number of bedrooms, distance to the city, transport, parking, etc. We searched pretty hard core for about a year, finding nothing we could afford that wasn’t a complete dump. Finally we gave ourselves a weekend off that included a visit to check out a friend’s new digs in Maroubra - a suburb that couldn’t have been further from our radar.
As we stood on her balcony we started a 'wouldn't it be lovely...' conversation about how relaxed the neighbourhood felt and how easily people could visit with all the free street parking. In that moment our focus shifted from what we wanted to how we wanted to feel and within a week we’d found our home.
The Universe is all about creation and it’s waiting ready to help us. When we only wish for stuff or things, with no consideration of the long term benefit, it makes for a pretty lame order. But when we stop to consider what a good life would look like, and imagine ourselves healthy and happy, the Universe has a lot more to work with - it’s the ultimate creator you capable of delivering things you’ve never even thought of, so don’t stifle it by being too specific.
How then should you go about manifesting the life you want?
Imagination, focus, and intent are the three ingredients that form the basis of ceremony, prayer, art, and any form of manifesting or creation.
Reflect, search, journey, meditate, journal, track your dreams, or whatever you need to do to get a clear idea of what you want. Not the stuff you want, not the size of the paycheck or the suburb, more the work that will satisfy you or the lifestyle. Daydream yourself into how you want to feel, how you want your days and life to unfold, what feelings you want to have, how you want your relationships to be. Imagine what your perfect day looks like and how you want to feel when you wake up and go to bed. Consider what would be different if you could achieve this life, and what behaviours you’d be prepared to change to maintain your health and happiness.
This ‘wouldn’t it be lovely…’ thinking radiating from your heart (rather than a plea for specific results) is all you need do to let the universe know what you really want.
Once you’ve imagined what you want, the spirits (Universe, elves, angels, whatever you prefer to imagine) take your order and get to work on making it happen. It’s then that you need your focus and intent to give them the opportunity to deliver.
For example, they can’t make you win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. Likewise, they’re not able to give you perfect health if you spend your life on the couch. But if you take a few steps in the direction of your dream, they will pull out all stops to get you there.
Another important thing to consider is maintaining your focus. Spirits hear your thoughts - what you think about you bring about. They don’t understand worry, so if you start thinking about what could go wrong they’ll stop what they’re doing and begin making that instead.
And if you keep asking for the same thing over and over, they will keep stopping and starting taking much longer to create whatever it is.
My point is, the Universe has fabulous hearing and if we use our imagination, focus and intent we can tap into it and manifest whatever we want. Even if we don’t realise we want it.
I had no idea I’d asked for so many things in my new home, but as soon as the opportunity arose I got them all - crazy angled ceilings, walking distance from the beach, and the loveliest neighbouring cat who sits in my lap while I sip tea on my balcony.
When you stop thinking about the what and get some clarity about the how and why of what you want, you will be amazed at what the universe is capable of delivering. You might even start to expect the unexpected. :)