I can never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.
- Siddhartha Gautama Buddha
2017 is upon us.
Many have set out to achieve a fresh set of resolutions for the New Year. There are relationships to be healed or created, weight to lose, letting go of the things that no longer serve our best interest and projects to get done.
Sometimes we succeed in meeting those resolutions. Many times we do not, and the resolutions end up fading away like someone we have met and agreed to stay in touch with who soon becomes a distant memory.
I've never been a fan of New Year's resolutions. Resolution comes from the word "resolve" which suggests using the force of our will against something. It is a type of resistance.
There is something that goes beyond having New Year's resolutions and that is to have targets or goals for the different areas of our lives. We can have a goal as a father or mother or sacred server. We can have goals as an employee or employer or business owner. We can set targets as a member of our community or for our health.
One of the things we can do to help us hit our targets is to establish rituals that pull us toward them. Those foundational rituals can be starting out the day by hydrating our bodies with sufficient water, practicing meditation or yoga and eating healthy.
We then build upon those rituals by practicing what the Buddhist tradition calls Right Effort. To achieve anything worthwhile in life, we must have unwavering dedication and set our minds to do whatever is necessary on a day-to-day basis to reach our target.
Right Effort can be made of daily habits. Rather than have a New Year's Resolution that states, "This year I will __________________," we convert our long term desires into doable daily habits and say, "Today I will _______________." Success lies in taking small tasks and doing them every day.
When we do what we can do today, it moves us towards our target. So it is valuable to take 10 minutes each day to determine the few things to do that day.
Another Buddhist teaching that can help us reach our targets is Right Mindfulness. This is where we quiet the mind down so we are able to think clearly and act more wisely. A practical tool that puts this teaching in practice is to work from our rest.
Most people have been taught to rest from their work. But the enlightened work from their rest. To work from your rest, you can use the 50/10 rule. After laying the foundation of your day with your meditation practice, you can put this rule to work by working for 50 minutes then resting your mind for 10 minutes. And then work for another 50 minutes then rest for 10 minutes, and so on.
Of course, if you're in the zone, you go beyond the 50 minutes. But on most occasions, you use the 50/10 rule and you will find that you keep your mind clear and settled.
So go forth and be guided by Spirit to determine what works best for you to help you fulfill your heart's desires in 2017. Know that it will be your best year ever.
Peace and Blessings,