Let's face it: New years are not always "new." Too often it feels like nothing more than a new calendar in which to write down pages of non-stop activities, project deadlines, social obligations, and commitments made by someone other than you.
So, stop! It's time to plug into something that you choose -- something that can renew your batteries and refresh your interest in work and life. Unlike the bobble-headed figures that nod "yes" at every touch, you do get to declare "time out" and place yourself first.
1.) Retreat to advance. Take yourself away for at least two nights and three days to a place for a silent retreat. Yes -- silence! Forbid yourself from using the phone, the television, or the radio. It's time to listen instead to the voices in your head that have been trying to get your attention for ages. Write what you sense. Think on paper. And make resolutions that speak to what matters most.
2.) Experience something far a field from your profession. Take a class or read a book that is not in your chosen line of work. Select something that piques your curiosity. The notion is to look for connections or ideas that might stimulate a new way of looking at your work or your life. Former elementary teacher Gail Wenos studied ventriloquism and discovered a new way to teach adults!
3.) Stretch yourself. If you take an exercise class once a month, try going two more times. If you cook the same food the same way, alternate with a new cookbook. One father saw himself as totally ill-equipped to ride anything that had less than four wheels. But he took motorcycle lessons with his teenage son and his sense of personal accomplishment grew along with the bond to his child.
4.) Practice your art every week. Everyone has an art. It might be hammering nails or singing in the shower. It might be designing a garden or counseling a friend. But it uses a talent you've got and when this talent is engaged, you burn brightly. You leave the time feeling refreshed. Put this down as a personal "no matter what" on your day timer.
5.) Throw out what weighs you down. Read only those things that are meaningful to you. Can the clutter as well as the people who are the constant complainers and gripers. Ditch the weight of unnecessary purchases and their financial burden. Give clothes you haven't worn in over a year to Goodwill. Remember, every ounce counts.
Think of 2008 as the year that you take control over what charges your batteries and renews your energy field. Guaranteed, it won't cost $100 per barrel.