As the year and the decade end, we will inevitably start thinking about the future. On New Years’ Eve, we might look back over the year and write down some goals for the year ahead. But, before we know it, we typically drift back to our old habits and the business of our lives swallows our goal lists. How can we make the end of this year and the start of the new year different?
People find it strange that I talk about celebration a lot. There seems to be a sentiment that there isn’t much to celebrate – the looters are still not in jail, there is barely any economic growth in South Africa and Trump is still doing his best to wreck global order and growth.
Celebration isn’t about our circumstances. We should celebrate the goodness of life while we have breath in our bodies, feet to dance, eyes to see beauty and arms to embrace our people. Celebrations are part of all ancient cultures and religions. Whether dancing around a fire to the beat of drums or cutting a turkey at Christmas – it’s all about celebrating life. Rich and poor can celebrate. Young and old can celebrate. Everyone can and should celebrate in their own way. Gather your people or strangers, break some bread and celebrate life.
Take a moment to be grateful
The practice of gratitude is recognised by scientists as having real benefits for our health. At the end of the year, take a moment to write down what you’re grateful for. Take a moment to share it with your family and friends. Make it personal. What were the good things that happened to you or your family this year? What did you learn from your challenges? This year I’ll be grateful for the time I had walking the Camino with a friend who became a sister in the process. I’ll be grateful for my health. I’ll be grateful for the growth in our business during difficult circumstances. I’ll be thankful for the meaningful work I do by helping our clients to plan their finances to enable a meaningful life. There were some painful times, but I learnt through it. What will you write on your list? If you have not already started, begin a daily gratitude journal by writing down or just saying the things, people or events that you could count as blessings each day. I started doing it this year. It is life-changing.
Your goals rephrased
Instead of writing goals like, I want to lose weight – a favourite after the indulgence of the festive season – write as if those goals are already true: “I am healthy and strong.” Then fill in the steps to get to that place. For example, you could choose to drink more water as one of the steps. If we’re talking about money you could write: “I have enough,” and then think about what it will take for that statement to be true. Perhaps you should review your weekly spending or long-term financial plan or work on what “enough” means for you.
Your life in the 2020s
I love the blank page of a new year or a new beginning. The chance to create a new way of living. Every new year gives you that opportunity. The truth is that every day is that opportunity.
Eight years ago, when I resigned from my corporate job to start Foundation Family Wealth, I had the opportunity to imagine a new way of living. I kept my journals from that time in which I wrote my desires. When I look back now, I can hardly believe how much of those have materialised. I am not a believer in, “If you can dream it, you can have it.” But I believe that if you can’t imagine it, it is unlikely that you’ll have it. Some of the work I did back then was as a result of the work of the father of financial life planning, Dr George Kinder. Answering questions like, “What would you do if you discovered that you had a short time to live? What would you do if you had all the resources available to do what you desire?” Pondering on these questions will highlight how far your current life is from your desired life.
Your daily life
Another helpful exercise is to think about what you’d like your daily life to be like, feel like or look like. How would you like to spend your time? If I reflect on my life now, I probably wouldn’t have had this life if I hadn’t done this exercise. I have flexibility around my work which enables me to spend time with my children. I get to do fascinating work because of the support of the team we built. This would not have happened if I hadn’t set out to enabled my life. Not everyone has as much control over their lives, however, everyone can make small changes that will make your daily life more meaningful and enjoyable. Perhaps it means that you should go to bed earlier or take a stroll around the block at lunch-time. What can you do to improve your daily life?
Hold your dreams lightly
Sometimes we are scared to dream or desire because we fear disappointment. Holding your dreams lightly will help you avoid the worst disappointments. Life happens. Disappointment will come. But at least, if we have set-out desires, we have a shot at the life we want to live. If we don’t desire, disappointment is guaranteed because a meaningful life requires swimming upstream and not floating with the tide of the times.
Holding dreams for yourself is about channelling your resources to flow in the desired direction. It’s not about building a dam that won’t withstand the forces of nature.
Dream, but hold them lightly.