A Peak Performance weblog

What Happened Next Year?

Have you given up making New Year’s resolutions because they don’t seem to work? Some say that people keep only 20% of their resolutions.

How about a different approach to resolutions? Making resolutions is often a matter of will power and guilt, an exercise in strongly desiring and intending to do what we think we should. Here is a great way to intuitively plan work projects and clarify personal directions and effortlessly cut through the New Year’s hazards of guilt and wishful thinking by reviewing accomplishments from a future time.

Did I say, “reviewing accomplishment from a future time?” Yes, it may seem strange, but it works. Try this: set up your environment so you will be undisturbed for 20 minutes. If it’s really January 1, 2012, for example, assume it is the morning of January 1, 2013! At the top of a piece of paper, write: “It is January I, 2013.” Now write down what happened during the year of 2012.

As much as possible, do not just imagine, but get into the experience that 2012 is over and you are remembering what happened. Then write whatever happened, whatever comes to mind, in past tense. Do not try to be optimistic or pessimistic. Just stay open and take whatever comes to mind as you look “back” over the year and write what you “remember” in past tense.

Whatever happened is over, so no effort need be involved in thinking about it. Take 15 minutes or so for this process, and write everything in past tense.

Quite often people will get insights about their goals and the obstacles that might arise as they work toward the goals.Sometimes people ‘see’ that they actually want to pursue a different goal than the one they first intended. Sometimes it looks like their goals won’t be accomplished in the time period. Nevertheless, they often get a sense of relief, peace, presence, or rest, even if their goals did not appear to be reached. Why? Most of our lives seem to be spent trying to get somewhere ‘up ahead’, become someone else, or to get satisfaction from objects, events or relationships outside ourselves.

Very often we expect that we will be happier later on, up ahead, after we complete our goals and projects. But our experience is continually depreciated by habitually ‘looking forward’ to things. We are always trying to get there, somewhere or somewhen else, rather than allowing ourselves to be here.

When we change our perspective on time with an exercise like this one, we can break through this off-balance way of seeking happiness “up ahead,” or “going forward.” Then, instead of struggling against time to get to our goals, we can just be here in peace and presence. We can–if only for a moment–be here, instead of trying to get there. We can end up in a peaceful sense of timelessness, even while thinking about past and future.

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