All I Want For Christmas…

All I Want For Christmas…

Dear Santa, forget the socks (I’ve got plenty), the chocolate (I’m trying to give up) and the subscription to Home Craft (unlikely this will ever inspire me to crochet my own wall hangings). What I’d really like is the elimination of poverty, a reduction in youth suicide, a soul mate to journey through life with, and world peace.

And if it’s not asking too much, I’d also like people to look where they’re going when they’re walking down the street, instead of at their smart phone. I want all the smart phone addicts to know that I can’t see very well, and I’ve had more near misses and full blown collisions on the footpath lately than I ever had as a down-hill ski racer. I can’t fathom what’s so important that so many people will risk personal safety and social etiquette to look at their phone when walking instead of where they’re going.

And also Santa, sorry, but I’d like to re-establish queuing protocol. If there’s a queue, I’d like all the people who want what the queue is for, to actually stand in it (preferably at the end, not the beginning). And if I could have just one more little thing from my list Santa, could you get rid of Outlook read receipts – they serve no purpose, are a waste of everyone’s time, and add keystrokes to my day that I don’t need.

OK, so I have hopes and dreams (some, I know, are more realistic than others), but I’m smart enough to realise that Santa Clause isn’t the one who’s going to bring me what I want. In fact, generally speaking, no-one is more likely to be responsible for delivering on my life goals than me.

So stop blaming others for your problems, or hoping someone else will make things better for you. The person who has the most power and influence to get you what you want, is you. And actually knowing what you want is the first step to getting there.

I see so many people who are unhappy, restless or unfulfilled, who know that they don’t want what they have now, but can’t describe what it is they do want. I believe one of the reasons we find it hard to articulate what we want, is that we rarely, if ever, give ourselves time to think about it. We cram our lives so full of deadlines, demands and responsibilities, but we don’t ever stop to evaluate why we do what we do, and what we’re trying to achieve by doing it. Even when we do get some spare time, we so often occupy it with things that fill in time, rather than using those precious moments to think, ponder, reflect and understand ourselves better.

So please give yourself some down time over the break, and spend at least some of it thinking. Find a pleasant, quiet and possibly inspirational environment where you can be alone with your thoughts and feelings. Your challenge is to do nothing, just think. No interruptions, no smart phone, no work calls, no to-do lists, no magazines, no TV. Just you, alone with your internal world.

Initially, just pay attention to what-ever thoughts, feelings and sensations come up. At some point direct your thoughts to the things that are most important to you in life, the things that have shaped you and made you who you are. What makes your heart sing, what makes you strong? What do you stand for and believe in unshakably? What really grabs your attention, what makes you sit up and take notice, what will you speak up about and what will you fight for?  Consider the changes you could make that would have the biggest impact on your hopes and dreams and goals. What do you really want in life, for you, for your family, for your community, for the planet? What can you do to make progress towards what you want? What will you start with?

If you really want changes, if you want a better life for yourself and others, you need to spend time thinking about it. Ideally, aim to get into a regular habit of spending some time in your week on this important activity. Ten minutes in the morning, half an hour on a Sunday night, what-ever works for you. Thinking may feel strange at first, but as with any good exercise program, start slowly and build up.

Planned reflection time gives you a well earned break from the relentless external activity and stimulation that characterises our lives, and which has the potential to break us down and burn us out. And unless we take the time to stop and think about what’s going well, what we want to change and why, we’re unlikely to ever achieve that sense of fulfilment that comes from really knowing what we want and finding the strength and resources to make it happen. The alternative is to keep writing lists for Santa.