Health-and-wellness expert Veronica Correa rings in the new year by sharing her experience and insights for the path to a better life in 2013
There is Bliss? Bliss is not a lost island in the Caribbean where all life’s challenges can be cast away into the ocean. Bliss is a beautiful place inside our hearts, but because it is so close to us, we often miss it. The feeling of bliss is universal: Everyone feels peaceful and happy inside, knowing that no matter what life gives us, we can handle it.
People often discover this inner place after some kind of personal misery (e.g., divorce, death of a loved one, serious illness, etc.). I started this journey to “something better” several years ago, and I have come to the realization that it does not have to take as long as it took me and that we do not have to experience tragedy to bring bliss into our lives. We do, however, have to make a choice to enter the journey.
We live in a fast-paced world; it is not just a feeling. The general pace of change has accelerated, and we are feeling the stress that comes with it. In 2013 it will be critical that you take the time to plan your life in order to make it through this whitewater rafting experience, because the pace of change will not slow down. Last week, when one of my clients after a deep relaxation exercise said, “I never felt so good; this is wonderful! I never knew I could feel this way,” I realized that she was caught up, like most of us, in the whirlwind of life and had forgotten what good feels like. Stress builds slowly within us, such that we may not even notice it at the beginning, yet it has a compound effect, and we tend to react only when we get sick or feel very unhappy.
I want to encourage you to tackle 2013 with a crafted journey for health and wellness. Create a plan so things can be different, and better, for you this year. Remember that according to Einstein, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
But where to begin? Well, you may start by defining a vision or purpose for your life. Questions like Why am I here? What do I want my legacy to be? What do I want the people I care about to say about me at my funeral? can be constructive launchpads for your goals. Next, define what values you want to be guided by. When it comes to decision-making, these are very important. For example, when I chose excellence to be one of my values, I was reminded to strive for the “excellence signature” on everything I do. Does that mean that everything I do is excellent? Of course not. The value of excellence is constantly steering me in the right direction, and it gives me the strength I need when I feel like giving up.
Next, define and write down your goals for 2013. A goal that is not in writing is a fantasy, and more often than not, it does not become a reality. A goal needs to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-sensitive. Then, decide which behaviors you need to embrace and which you need to let go of in order to better achieve your goals. Also, be sure to make a list of the skills and habits you need to develop, who can help you along the way and what resources you are likely to need.
Creating your plan is simple; carrying it out for 12 months is a bit more challenging. Think of how you can make yourself accountable for following through. When I crafted this journey for the first time, I was with a group of other women. Every week, we were accountable to do a piece of this plan, and we made each other accountable to complete the tasks. When I reviewed it at the end of the year, it felt great to put a check mark next to each and say, “Done. Done. Done!”
Planning the journey for 2013 is under way because I know this is what brings the results I want in my life. I must admit, however, that my particular journey was longer than it needed to be because I had initially resisted the process. This approach felt too constricting for me, and when I read in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that “FREEDOM is in the DISCIPLINE,” the light bulb came on in my head. I realized that if I took the time to ponder what I want to do with my life, wrote down goals and followed the steps described above I could have the freedom to enjoy my life, my family, my health and my professional success so much more. Consequently, I now go through this process every year because I finally understand that bliss comes when you make the choice to bring discipline into your life and that it can be accomplished when you have a clear purpose, choose the right values and define specific goals for the path ahead. Otherwise, charting the course of your life is like going on a long trip that you have never taken before but without a clear destination, map or GPS.
This year marks the perfect time to plan your life the way you want it to be, as we are going through the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Make the choice to craft your life the way you want it. You were born with the gift of choice and the skills needed to make it happen.
Happy New Year!
Veronica Correa, LCSW-C is a licensed clinical social worker and holistic health coach. To learn more about her work and services, visit www.ThePersonalWellnessCenter.com
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