Are you ready for a renewal? I’m talking about a clean sweep, tossing the gunk that’s accumulated so you’re breathing more freely.
To speak plainly, I’m talking about making 2021 a better year.
I want to share with you what I’ve been experiencing with the hope it will encourage you.
For the first time, I’ve picked a word to guide me this year. That word is renewal.
What is Renewal?
Renewal in its simplest terms means to be made anew. It’s an opportunity to change your life. What’s cool is that the power of renewal resides directly in you. Don’t worry about buying anything or hiring someone, though of course you can do both. Renewal is internal, altering how you feel and act
Or as author Tom Marris, wrote, “it’s a way of recharging your heart and reconnecting with your inspiration.”
Boy do I need that.
I feel like I squandered a lot of the past year. Yet, in looking back it’s not been a complete loss. I realize I’ve been molting, shedding some skin as a new me struggles to emerge.
And I love how the poet Harryett Mullen describes this:
“Pulling out of the old scarred skin
(old rough thing I don’t need now
I strip off
Slip out of leave behind).”
The me of 2020 has been stuck in place, frozen in aspic. Besides the horrors of the pandemic and the country seemingly ripped apart, I’ve been scared to move forward. The beginning of the year was exciting: starting my personal career reinvention with my coaching and branding practice and having my book published. Then everything went pouf. As a result, I was immobile. In fact, I needed a new emoji for how I felt — a person pinned down.
Needing a Change
Change can be scary, because it’s easy to retreat into what you know — or to do nothing at all! Oh, I did things, including building a new website, blogging, Zooming, tweeting and linking in. But it didn’t coalesce. It felt more like crossing off a checklist than a renewal.
Renewal means internal change. It involves shedding some old habits and creating new ones. Let me be clear: I’m not advocating a Pollyannish do-over; rather, a little soul searching and changing in even small ways to affect the quality of your life — whether that’s in your career or on a more personal level.
To quote the poet Harryett Mullen again:
Peeling layers down to vulnerable stuff
And I’m blinking off old eyelids
For a new way of seeing.”
Renewal isn’t a walk in the park. I think my overall discomfort during 2020 was part of my own internal churning. It was as if I was plodding through activities, including a lot of aimless scrolling online, until eventually I said, “Enough.”
I’ve gotten to a point where I’m ready to push through my fear of change and move forward.
Do you feel this way?
Will You Join Me in My Year of Renewal?
Here are some things I’m letting go of this year. Gladly.
What I call my “favorite unfavorite” things. These are activities I’ve clung to with a vengeance that I’m now discarding:
- Hitting the snooze button several times and going back to sleep only to emerge a little drugged and not ready to seize the day.
- Reading too many easy-to-forget articles that fill your head with information, rather than insight. It’s all too easy to luxuriate in newspaper headlines and articles that don’t demand much thought.
- Reading simply for escapism and not truly learning. Not that there’s anything wrong with reading as entertainment, but if you’re going to grow as a person you also need to engage your mind more times than not.
- Being too inside my own head and forgetting that giving to others is the best way to enrich yourself.
Here’s what I plan to do differently:
- Follow the advice of John Gardner, the author of Self Renewal. “Don’t set out in life to be an interesting person, set out to be an interested person.”
- Be more open to others, giving and caring. Being more grateful. Doing something nice for someone every day, if just a brief note to say thinking of you. I’m so impressed by how a Zen Buddhist monk and hospital chaplain spends his Sundays. Read about him here.
- Carve out more time in the day. Somehow my days dwindle away and I don’t feel I’ve accomplished what I wanted to do. To ensure success, I plan to have only a handful of things I must do each day. The other things I do will be gravy.
- Get outside at least several times a week. With the cold weather here in Connecticut and with the pandemic, I have almost barricaded myself indoors, forgetting what anything other than my house looks like. Not only have I masked my face but I’ve been closing my eyes as well.
- Let go of bits of the past to make room for something new. I’ve been clinging to my former PR life and hadn’t given my new coaching career the space it needed to flourish.
- Start something new that’s completely different. I signed up for an online beginner’s watercolor class. I don’t expect to give Grandma Moses competition but to have fun. And to get my creative juices flowing.
- Make the morning count. I plan to do at least part of the Miracle Morning of exercising, journaling and meditating.
- Volunteer. I want to volunteer somewhere and give back.
Things are tough for everyone now. And I’m not suggesting you have a big list of changes to make…but start small. Think of a few habits you might want to toss, as well as new, healthy ones to start. You deserve to slough off what’s not working and renew your soul.
Here’s to your year of renewal, peace and purpose.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.