The first week of 2012 I met with a life coaching client I’ve been working with since September 2011. He’s been making steady progress on his goals and, in fact, wrote me a note Christmas weekend saying this:
“Cheers and thanks for everything you’ve helped me to see, and in 2012 … to be ”
I would normally come to a session in early January with the theme “fresh start” – no-brainer, right? But upon review of his file prior to meeting, it didn’t feel like a fit. He didn’t need a fresh start. On this particular matter, his fresh start had happened three months before. Incremental change was becoming habit and insights were coming regularly.
So often at this time of year, people resolve to do grand things or completely shun resolutions because they think they must commit to grand things and they feel defeated before they begin. But here’s the thing. The origin of the word “resolution” from the early 15th century is about “a breaking into parts.”
Now you could take that as breaking a grand goal into small steps. That’s a proven formula and is the backbone of the coaching process.
But what I’m suggesting here is something a little different. How about each day you be present with a situation or two and see how that goes? What might you resolve to do or be as a result?
So with the aforementioned client, instead of going the tried and true route of “rah rah, it’s a new year, let’s start fresh” I paid attention to that situation in that moment and realized it didn’t fit. The client nodded in agreement. He was on a continuum and it was important to go with the momentum.
Each day, something comes up that can give us pause. It may not occur to me to resolve to not be cookie cutter with clients, but that situation made me mindful of it.
A few weeks ago I was in the gym and chatting with the man who keeps it spic and span. He always has a smile, but rarely looks up from his mop. As we closed our conversation, he thanked me for talking to him and for looking him in the eye because most people don’t. Call me naïve, but I was shocked by that. Most people don’t even greet the person they see almost daily because he cleans floors?
Years ago I was on a first date with a guy who talked to the waitress in a very disrespectful way and I knew immediately there would be no second date. I have a few friends who are borderline on this with bartenders, cab drivers, and housekeepers in hotels and I find it so disconcerting. What I can do about it is resolve to treat people well, period.
So, no, there’s nothing on my vision board that says, “Be kind without exception” and, no, I didn’t write that on my list of goals for 2012, but it feels right to make note of that. I thought it was basic until the man at my gym unwittingly enlightened me. Or maybe it’s just that he reminded me. After all, I’ve been a cashier and a receptionist and know that elitists come in all stripes.
By the time you read this, you may have already ditched a New Year’s resolution. The folks at my gym were out in force this week, but that will most certainly drop off as January progresses. But instead of chalking it up to, “I can’t keep resolutions. It’s no use,” how about changing the paradigm? Each day is a new challenge. And even at that, if you slack off for a while, don’t shut down for good, but start over on Feb. 4 or April 2 or June 25. It doesn’t matter.
The whole idea of living well is to be the best person you can be. Sometimes it’s helpful to take it day by day. You could be writing massive checks to terrific causes, spending long hours counseling your friends and keeping a comfortable home. All lovely and perhaps a solid foundation to being a good person, but what might help build your character? What resolution contributes to that?
Do you love well? Do you lead by example? Do you do quality – even exceptional -- work? Can you reach for compassion in a tense situation? Are you open to learning? Are you open, period?
Each day, something. Burrow into the nuance. In 2012, look beyond driven and accomplished and think versatile and kind.
It is so satisfying to feel like your conscious presence is making a difference to someone.
Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.