How many of you made a new year's resolution or two....and have already broken one, or all of them?! Setting resolutions on Jan 1st aren't for me but periodically I create and update my goals and aspirations and do like to be clear about my goals for the new year.
This year started quite differently and has made me re-evaluate how I go about prioritising what's important to me.
"That thing getting in the way of your plans, well that 'thing' is called life!"
On Jan 30th I took my brother to A&E. Leading up to this it had become apparent to his friends and family that he had been acting unusually and just wasn't himself. After numerous tests and care of the staff our suspicions were confirmed that there was indeed something amiss; my brother had suffered a stroke (multiple small bleeds on the brain). He remains in hospital and is undergoing rehabilitation.
What was quite surprising to us (including the doctors) was that based on those that were in contact with him we worked out that he'd probably had the stroke approximately 4 to 5 months before we decided to take him to hospital. How he had managed to keep functioning to the extent he had and keep it pretty much hidden is baffling.
I asked my brother how he had managed to do this and why he hadn't asked for help. His response caught me off guard, he was worried as he didn't know what was going on with him and didn't want anyone to notice he was struggling. Basically he was pretending to be well in the hope we wouldn't know something was wrong.
Yesterday I went to see my brother and noticed my energy levels weren't normal and I struggled to engage with him as I normally do. While sitting there in a comfortable silence I realised two things;
I was now keeping up a pretence that I was O.K. when I knew I wasn't. I was tired, irritable (with loved ones) and not really thinking straight. Yet when I was asked by others I would just say I was fine.
That unlike my brother, I knew what was happening with me; too many late nights, not being as healthy as I could be in terms of mindfulness, exercise and nutrition etc.,
Seeing how easy it was to fall into that pattern of saying "I'm O.K" made me realise how when my brother was saying this and going unchallenged, people can slip through the net of support. I think with awareness we in society can be bolder to sensitively and respectfully invite people to share if they need help or want to speak up.
"Teach what you most need to learn." Stephen Covey
Seeing what happened to my brother and knowing that his (and my) outlook on 2018 had been shaken and fundamentally changed, I could see the shortcoming of being attached to 'goals' and outcomes that may never happen due to things totally out of your control.
I am not saying that we shouldn't have goals and a vision for our self but the attachment to them can leave us vulnerable to the fragility of life without adopting a dynamic mindset to navigate the spontaneous and mystical unfolding of the now moments of life.
"Rituals are the formulas by which harmony is restored."
Terry Tempest Williams
I recognised sometime ago that goal setting, vision boards, S.M.A.R.T objectives, they all have there place and are great but it's the commitment to conscious and regular rituals that have the most impactful effects on our lives.
Over the years researching and modelling (in an NLP context) the most successful** people I have met or admired from afar, have a key thing in common; it's the devotion to their heartfelt rituals that makes the difference.
** success as defined by Earl Nightingale; "success is the progressive realisation of a worthy goal."
This quote by my namesake is key in the 'process', because the 'progressive realisation' is where the focus is placed. In today's society there is a lot of talk and focus on our goals but think about it for a moment, most of our time and energy is invested in working towards the pay off which is the goal. Yet most people focus on honing and shaping the goal and not what it's going to take to get there and how they want to feel on the way.
These successful people are usually committed to rituals in certain areas of their life that are of most value to them:
Safety and security (ensuring they and their loved ones are safe physically)
Self-care (looking after personal wellbeing)
Relationships and connection (making sure they are connecting to loved ones)
Self Esteem (making time and investing in the things that makes them feel good and empowered)
Personal Growth (learning and pushing themself beyond the boundaries of their comfort zone)
Making a difference - Having a sense of purpose and contributing to something bigger than self.
Altruism - Giving back and being in service of others. Selfless service.
The rituals they have are aligned with the values listed above and are ongoing. They do not have a finite end point (unlike goals) which makes them more potent and empowering over time than the goals that are pursued. To be clear, rituals are not the same as habits...
In this context my definitions are;
Rituals are any intended activities that are consciously performed for tangible purposes.
Usually a routine and or a sequence of things you may do for a particular outcome.
example Getting Healthier - working out; put on your appropriate clothing, check equipment, warm up and work out. cool down, relax and have some protein. done 3 x times a week (note that rituals can be regular or irregular.
Habits are any activities that are done regularly which you may or may not be aware of the intention, purpose or even if you're doing it.
Example - having a coffee and cigarette when walking to the office. Biting your lip when nervous. watching your favourite soap every Tuesday. switching on the radio when getting in the car.
My big lesson from seeing what my brother is going through, is that the future and our goals are not promised to us no matter what we may want or how hard we may try. My call to action is to focus my energies into those things that are sacred to me and that I can impact in the present moment. To look after myself, my family and my brother and to become conscious of my habits to see it they are serving me (or not). To create or develop new rituals to ensure that the valued areas of my life are getting the necessary attention and being nurtured.
(NB I deliberated long and hard about sharing the events about my brother as they are personal and happening now. However looking at my values and particular relationships and connection, I thought if I can't authentically share with the Creative Muscle Tribe then what's the point).
If you would like to learn more about how to create and develop empowering rituals I'll be holding some interactive workshops to share what I have discovered so far. Connect to the tribe and send me a message and I'll let you know when and where they will take place.