“Make any New Year’s Resolutions?” Hmph! It’s the most annoying question ever. Most of us can barely keep them going past January. Let’s face it: if we were really resolved about changing our lives, we wouldn’t need New Year’s resolutions in the first place.
I cringe when people make hollow promises to themselves. It almost guarantees a negative outcome of even more shame, guilt, and self-recrimination when they fail. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a happier life in 2018. So throw away those guilt-driven resolutions and take my challenge. It is built around making one small but significant change in your life, and working on it for 10-15 minutes a day for three months. I use a modified and tailored version of this technique in my office to gently push clients into making positive changes.
This technique teaches you to be a new person by making tiny progress every day. Instead of the western approach of task-lists and one-way-for-all and judgment and social pressure, my technique takes a harmonizing, self-balancing approach to self-enlightenment that emphasizes your individual needs and goals. It encourages you to take the first steps towards your destination by treating preparation as a kind of meditation – a soothing period during which you do the prep thing and let go of worrying about all the other things. This technique is not about imposing discipline from outside. It’s about organically folding a positive new behavior into your daily life so it becomes as natural to you as brushing your teeth or feeding your pets.
CHARLEY’S STORY: My client Charley was a depressed, sexually self-destructive, lonely bachelor, worried about his future when he took my challenge. I gave him a menu of choices to get his inner life on track. He was ambivalent at first but, one baby-step at a time, I helped him find new meaning and purpose in his life. Within two years, he was achieving social successes he never thought possible and then he met a partner who loved the self-realized man he’d become, and things just kept getting better for him. Charley then was lost, sad, and alone. Charley today is a happily married, socially successful and MUCH happier man!
If he could make that journey, you can too.
Four Self-Enlightenment Challenges To Choose From
Below is a menu of four challenges every adult can succeed at if they try. I recommend picking only one challenge from the menu to get yourself started. It will be easier to stay focused on achieving your goal.
One dish won’t suit all, so aim for an authentic connection with whatever you choose. Read the whole menu, then adjust for what works and what doesn’t for you personally, with consideration to your life situation and daily schedule. DO NOT try to super-achieve by picking several challenges all at once. You will probably super-fail and stress yourself out even more. Instead, focus on the one thing that sounds most doable for you in the here and now. Before you know it, it will become a shining golden thread in the fabric of your life, and the beginning of a whole new dimension of beauty in your life.
There is only one rule: you must do it every day going forward. That’s the hard part. The downside: self-discipline isn’t easy. The upside: It will change your life for the better. In fact, it could change your life so much you don’t want to stop after you achieve your first goal. That’s because adulting is really good for adults. Your mature, adult mind wants you to have less stress, more hope, and to make responsible choices. It will reward you with more energy, better self-esteem and a stronger sense of purpose. So please dig into the menu of self-enlightenment challenges: it’s gluten-free, no-carb and 100% heart healthy.
♥ Emotional Self-Care
You are the most important person in your own life. If you fall apart, so will the people and relationships in your life. Think of yourself as the core of your own little ecosystem. That’s why learning to give yourself emotional self-care should be a priority in every adult life. Protecting your own mental well-being from the rampant negativity in the world will boost your ability to fight back. It will recharge you to deal with the issues in your life and give you more energy to play a positive role in other people’s lives.
HOW TO: Make it a strict practice to nurture your emotional well-being every day by shining some positivity into your core being. Whether it’s by visualizing a beautiful image, praying, chanting, repeating a favorite quote or using music to life your heart, take yourself to a happy mental space and stay there for 10-15 uninterrupted minutes every single day. If you can’t think of anything positive to focus on, try singing “This Little Light of Mine” every day. Do this for three months, never skipping a day. Your body and brain will thank you for the relief.
Bust stress with me for free. Listen to Relax and Refresh Before Sex
for a guided full-body meditation.
♥ Help Someone Else
Sometimes we humans find our truest joy in taking care of others. If that describes you, you may already know that the choice to be useful and meaningful to others can be even more rewarding than self-care. This choice instantly resonated with Charley. He had always wished he was good at something other than his job. He naturally had a big heart, but he’d either wasted it on people who didn’t appreciate his generosity or kept it hidden because he worried it made him seem soft.
HOW TO: Charley picked volunteering with a charity that fed homeless people. Feeding the poor ended up feeding Charley’s soul in ways he never imagined. You don’t have to leave your circle of comfort to help others, though. You can do it even if you are overworked or housebound. You could, for example, do cyber-activism as a daily ritual. Or you could pick people in your family or circle of friends who have special needs, such as elderly or disabled relatives, and commit to helping them in small ways every day. Pick someone or something where you can check in every day, whether by Internet or in person. Whether you call them to make sure they’re okay, drive them someplace, bring them special food, read to them, or donate time to a group, spend 15 minutes a day or 1-2 hours a week showing them that you care.
♥ Focus On A Specific Short-Term Goal
So you always wanted to learn to do XYZ, huh? Or perhaps you want to get fitter? Maybe you’d like to learn a new language or polish your cooking skills? Hey, it’s your life: what would be cool to you? Whatever you pick, GET BUSY. Pick one cool thing for the next three months and invest at least 15 to 30 minutes a day, every single day, towards making it a reality. So, for example, if you are taking a class, don’t limit yourself to the time you spend in the class. Do something to support your learning each day, whether it’s googling more information about the subject or practicing skills at home. If you want to learn to draw, sketch every day. Keep one specific 3-month goal in mind and keep putting one foot in front of the other until you achieve it.
HOW TO: Pick a specific goal you can achieve in 3 months, such as a learning goal or a new skill set. The best way to succeed at this particular challenge is to journal all 90 days with a note on what you did towards fulfilling your goal each day. Did you learn something new? Did you get a little better at a skill? Document every little achievement, no matter how small. This will keep you very mindful of what you are — and are not — doing. If you can’t document it, it’s because you can’t focus on this challenge. Yet. Don’t beat yourself up. Accept that your heart isn’t into it now for whatever reason. Stop, reassess and either start over or pick a different challenge. If anxiety is blocking you, try the top menu item and work on relaxing your mind.
♥ Prepare To Make An Important Decision
You know that big decision you’ve been postponing and postponing? I bet you do. Whether it’s an important chore you’ve delayed, a health issue you aren’t dealing with, or decisions on your love-life or where you should live, you can push yourself in the right direction by intensively PREPARING to make that decision. Even better, it takes the pressure off you for a while to make the decision. Preparation is a kinder, gentler process. It’s about giving your beautiful self the time and information to know that when you do make the decision, it will be the right decision for you.
In this challenge, you will spend three months deciding, once and for all, the best possible way to handle your shit. You won’t have to handle it, you’ll just prepare to handle it. That means you will spend at least 10 minutes a day doing the legwork and thinking required to make a good decision. You’ll google any relevant research or support services available, and have the conversations you’ve been meaning to have with friends and family. You’ll weigh your choices carefully. The preparation process will empower you to take action.
JERRY’S STORY Jerry’s employer offered him a better job, but it meant moving to another state. He was torn. He knew he should accept it for career reasons but it felt like a big sacrifice. In addition to all the hassles of moving, he was really scared he would be forced back into the kink closet. The job was in a town that was way smaller than the urban center where he currently lived. He was on a short deadline, so he had to work fast on this one. I got him to research kink opportunities in the new state and told him to join Fetlife and look for groups within 100 miles of his new town. It took him a few short weeks to establish communication with people who recommended him to a large, established BDSM group. Another big plus — their club space was an easy 40-minute drive from where he would be living, closer than the club he’d be leaving. By the time he had to give his boss a definite answer, he had already arranged a playdate in the new area. 🙂
HOW TO: Whatever decision you need to make, start small. Spend a few minutes every day doing all the legwork you need to do to feel comfortable that you’re equipped with the best information you can find. Once you have the facts, ask yourself if you’re ready to face the work that change takes, including but not limited to making changes in your lifestyle. Plan on spending a minimum of 10 minutes a day working on this decision and, equally important, on letting go of it the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of the day. Obsessing over it will kill the process. Taking a break from it lets your brain to calmly do its job of figuring out the best path forward. Then return to the question the next day and repeat the preparations. Be strict: 10 minutes of thinking about nothing but the right decision to make, and then a full day’s break.
Depending on your circumstances or needs, it could take you a few weeks or a few months before the right decision becomes obvious to you. I strongly recommend putting a deadline on this one, anywhere between 1 to 6 months, depending on the gravity of the decision to be made and the amount of preparation that will leave you feeling fully equipped to put your decision into action. If you aren’t sure how long it will take, set a goal of 3 months, and give yourself an extension if you’re still not ready when it comes. And, if you should nail it in 3 weeks, hug yourself hard!