Happy New Year, Ya’ll! As you may have seen in our Twitter feed, we road tripped across the South West. Here is Julie, on the side of the road, with some cacti, underneath an unbelievable rainbow (thanks to Plan A). This moment inspired our latest bumper sticker: We Stop For Rainbows. It also inspired a few ideas about the new year, life, recovery and fulfilling your dreams.
We have a friend who has lived a long, prosperous and fulfilling life. She’s a spiritually inspirational person, who embodies the bootstraps patched-together, Duct Tape and Bubblegum, non-denominational philosophy of living in harmony with the unseen force (be that Chance, Karma, Spirit or God–you decide) and our belief in living life on life’s terms. We adopted her philosophy of life and travel. We think it’s a great way to kick off the New Year:
(if the word “God” is not in keeping with your beliefs, please replace it with Karma, Chance, Higher Power, etc for our Buddhist, atheist, 12 step readers and other denominations)
All your plans are Plan B. God’s Plan is Plan A.
On our road trip (read: metaphor for life), we have a well mapped idea of where we will travel. Then a sudden sand storm, traffic or roadwork will quickly change our course. We were set with our own plan (Plan B) but then the unexpected course change (Plan A) happened. We never know what Plan A is going to be. We embrace Plan A, although it can easily come with painful life lessons, frustrations and nuisances, it can also come wrapped in a SPECTACULAR BIG GIANT RAINBOW! We would not have had the opportunity to see this full rainbow, and take in a breathtaking moment with the earth, had we not embraced Plan A. Rather than forcing our idea onto life (the proverbial square peg into a round hole) we toss our hands up in the air and say “I guess it’s time for Plan A!” This can sound like a quick exit from painful feelings and that’s the beauty of it– it is! Some of life’s painful experiences require pause and attention but detours while you travel are no cause for stress. So much of life is beyond our control and when we impose our self-will onto situations that are so obviously beyond it (traffic, non-behavior related illness, loss, etc.) then we have lost our trust in life and have taken on the burdensome effort of attempting to play the part of God. Even if you don’t believe in a Higher Power, you are still unwittingly playing one by imposing your will onto the Chance in life.
You may have some hard and fast resolutions for this year. As the year plods along, check in and see if you are imposing your self-will, or if you can embrace Plan A and let a force outside of you, help you out. Allow room for a change of course and stop for the rainbow. Resolutions are tough. There are a lot of jokes about them because we all struggle with them. Here’s one. It’s not really funny. It’s so true that it’s sad:
2005: I will get my weight down below 180.
2006: I will watch my calories until I get below 190.
2007: I will follow my new diet religiously until I get below 200.
2008: I will try to develop a realistic attitude about my weight.
2009: I will work out 5 days a week.
2010: I will work out 3 days a week.
2011: I will try to drive to the gym at least once a week.
We are sending out all the good vibes and well wishes that we have, in hope that you will succeed with your resolutions! Just Do it ™! OK. Now that the fruitless optimism has been expressed… What we’ve found is that achieving “resolutions” and healthy change has little to do with a righteous sense of self-will and nothing to do with setting a daunting annual goal, which results in facing something that lasts a month, then feels like a whole year of shame after failure!
Help yourself out and start with this: My resolutions are Plan B.
One Day at a Time Can Turn Into a Year, Then Years.
As far as resolutions are concerned, people bite off more than they can chew. One example: I will quit using drugs. Seems simple enough. It’s just one little thing: quitting drugs. Wrong. Just like difficulties with weight loss, this is a lifestyle choice wrapped up in the whole infrastructure of one’s life– from biology to coping. Try simplifying the resolution: I will not use any drugs today and I will restate this resolution tomorrow. This becomes a much simpler two day resolution. One day to quit drugs and one day to restate the resolution tomorrow morning. Same with weight loss: I will not eat more than my basal metabolic rate today and I will restate this resolution tomorrow morning. One day at a time can turn into years…
Daydreams are not just for couch potatoes. See it and Believe it.
Let’s take it further, drop the resolutions, and start investing in our daydreams. We become hyper focused on the concrete outcome of a resolution rather than how we want life to look. We say that we want to “quit smoking,” but we are not clear about the outcome we want, for instance to feel healthy and not feel controlled by an addiction. Perhaps more clearly put: to feel healthy and empowered. It takes a lot more work than just quitting smoking to feel healthy and empowered. With an unconscious awareness of that, we will quickly give up on a short-sighted resolution that is not providing the true result and instant gratification we long for. Smoking is a complex biological addiction, so there a other factors involved, but starting with new healthy choices for coping will begin to provide replacement for smoking and the feeling of empowerment will fuel movement toward truly quitting and lasting personal change.
Mental imagery (a type of focused daydreaming) has been studied in countless ways. It has been shown to improve effectiveness in everything from sports performance to healing from cancer. Let’s not overlook this wonder tool as a means to bypass the humdrum annual resolution and gain lasting change. Lasting, deep, personal change is what causes us to automatically commit to positive behaviors such as the annual resolution. Try mental imagery and visualize a deep change– see the life you want and see that your lasting personal change has removed any need to make a resolution.
If you want a resolution, try this: I will sit for two minutes today and visualize my ideal life. I will restate this resolution tomorrow.
TO DO: If you’re good at visualizing, sit for two minutes and visualize with full, specific detail what you are aiming for. If your dream is to lose weight, then visualize yourself at your goal weight in all situations. Visualize yourself easily eating healthy foods and gracefully declining excess. See yourself exercising with enjoyment. See yourself embracing all of the positive rewards you experience. And, don’t forget to see yourself handling any difficulties with ease, such as people who sabotage you, fear of success, and having to go shopping for new clothing!
How to visualize.
We know a gifted man who can stare at a ceiling and draw accurate building plans in his mind. Not many of us are visual geniuses like he is, so we recommend starting with a Vision Board or a Possibilities Book. Here’s our first crafty post, at last. Finally we can use real Duct Tape! Don’t be shy… these tools are for your eyes only. Choose not to share them if you will be ridiculed in anyway– you need to feel free to brainstorm and visualize. But…before you begin, just in case your dream is to make the world’s largest human skin suit (because you’re a horror film character), let’s refer to Plan A and write this IMPORTANT QUALIFICATION at the top of your board, or on a front page of your book:
“This, or something greater, for the highest wellness of all involved.”
Vision board: Foam Core or Styrofoam Board. Cut out pictures from magazines and use text to begin visualizing your dream for this year. The vision board is used for a very specific, singular visualization. If you need something more comprehensive, refer below to the possibilities book. Here’s a good, comprehensive how-to guide for a vision board.
Possibilities Book: Use a binder, a large photo album or scrap book. Like the vision board, you will cut out pictures and write in text, but use a book that you can expand into. Here’s a quick guide to make a possibilities book (refer to vision board link for the nuances of goal setting).
If you choose a resolution, be realistic with yourself, understand your hidden agenda and honor that you’re only human. Don’t use this as an opportunity to beat yourself up. If you choose to visualize, let your dreams guide you, rather than being pushed by your problems… may you visualize your best 2013!