A New Year, a New You. Scratch that.
How about, A New Year, the Old You?
Wait a minute. Old you? That goes against the annual tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. We want to move forward not back, don’t we? But if the old you is the original you—the you at the time of your birth, with your whole life ahead to discover and use your talents—then this is the you I’m chasing.
I used to make New Year’s resolutions, but each year I’d write the same ones. So what did I resolve? How did I move forward? My intentions were good, but I’d lose focus, energy and discipline two months later. To me, my resolutions were just one more list in an already busy life filled with to-do lists. If self-improvement through my New Year’s resolutions was a chore rather than a joy, good luck at self-improvement getting tackled among the day-to-day survival of existing tasks.
So let’s get rid of chores and look at joy. But how can I get everything done, you may say? You are probably haunted by I need to do this or I should do that. So am I. I feel stressed if I don’t complete my tasks or if my house is out of order. I thought that kind of chaos was a reflection on me. They think of me as organized and reliable. Now what will they think? Focusing on joy instead of chores was foreign to me. I liked work, achievement, and taking pride in accomplishment. I certainly didn’t think of this approach (joy versus chores) but it became my path to self-improvement or rather my return to myself, the original me, the newborn waiting to use her talents and express herself in the world.
As children, our natural talents and skills emerge, and if they are nurtured, we may be the lucky ones. We may be the ones who stay on the path, using our talents in our personal or professional lives, in alignment with our purpose, and through our example, inspiring others to do the same.
I was inspired by Janice Cunning, who became my life coach or, as she calls herself, my joy coach. When I first approached Janice for coaching, I disregarded the term “joy.” I thought, well maybe she wants to be a little different, calling herself a joy coach rather than a life coach. Maybe by “joy,” she means contentment or the feeling of achievement from completing a task or a project, because I don’t have time for joy. Joy is for kids and I need to get things done in my life. But I wasn’t getting things done and I needed a new perspective, a third party perspective from a coach or a mentor.
I approached Janice to coach my career. That fit with the person I was and my goals at the time, five years ago. Achieve, achieve, and achieve some more. But coaching would have none of that. Instead, she taught the stifled me to breathe.
One aspect of Janice’s coaching was about looking at joy, at childhood passions and bringing those back to life. For me, my childhood passions included dance, music, and self-expression. Many of us share these passions.
I returned to dance in mid-life. As a clumsy toddler, my mother enrolled me in dance at three years old and, along the way, I found grace, confidence, and discipline in ballet. The physical movement also encouraged the flow of language and I began to express myself through creative writing. But for me, the teen years brought all these passions to a screeching halt. I went into survival and achievement mode. I should get good grades. I should go to university. I should focus. No time for fun. No time for joy. That’s for kids. I need to think about my future.
It took me a long time to see that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Work and passion co-exist and can even fuel one another. I decided I would make time for dance, but not dance classes. That might get me into New Year’s resolution failure mode again. I would dance for myself, by myself, freestyle, and at home, when I felt like it!
When my body was free, my mind was free, and with this free-flow, just as in childhood, I was able to write again. Today, I sponsor mentorship opportunities for other aspiring writers.
This was all a beautiful surprise, but really it shouldn’t have been a surprise at all. It was all in my history and just needed to be reborn.