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⚡️ 6 Months Of 2023 Are Gone, Here’s A Simple Way To Make The Best Of The Next 6
Hello friend! 👋
It still surprises me every time I realize how fast time goes - we say goodbye to another quarter of 2023 and welcome a new one at the same time.
How have the past six months been for you?
Did you do what you said you would do?
Have you achieved what you set out to achieve?
Looking back, how satisfied would you say with these six months? (use a scale of 1-10)
Whatever comes to mind as you answer these questions, consider bringing an attitude of compassion, curiosity, and celebration for the smallest of wins.
In any case, it is all in the past now. Science tells us that if we shift our focus to moving forward with hope, we can increase our levels of happiness and well-being. And that’s the intent of today’s newsletter - reflecting EFFECTIVELY on the past to plan a SOLID future.
Let’s dive straight in!
(This is a dense letter - we have to go deep to create real transformations, I suggest you open a notebook or digital note to follow along ✍️)
Recall when we talked about the power of reflecting on the Three Good Things? (you can check out the article here)
The father of Positive Psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman, tells us this extremely simple daily practice can boost our happiness. And we know from the science of resilience that happy people are more resilient - because they’re able to use their energy to nourish rather than deplete and get back up to try again.
Similarly, we can use the same approach to reflect on the past six months.
But here’s a catch; to unlock the true power of this reflection, you would want to recall what worked AND why it did work. Reflecting on the role you played, whether immediately or previously, solidifies your sense of agency and raises your confidence.
Keeping three (instead of just ONE) is backed up by science - Dr. Barbara Fredrickson tells us that positive emotions work as a cushion to help absorb negative emotions.
Positivity is POWERFUL. I’m not talking about spraying positivity over a reality that isn’t; that’s called delusion (or toxicity). I’m talking about creating a space where we can see and appreciate the good in life. And as I shared before, what you appreciate, appreciates!
Reflecting on the past six months, recall THREE things that you are happy with.
For each of these, spend some time recalling how it made you feel in the moment you experienced them (or knew of them). Recall the thoughts, the emotions, and even any bodily sensations that you experienced. The aim here is to truly embody and “relive” the experience.
Next, call out why this worked (the role you played in it immediately or previously that allowed for it to happen)
What Needs Work
We know how to do this one well; we’re excellent self-critics.
Let me be clear, though; being critical is not always bad. In fact, being critical is powerful as it helps us identify gaps and work toward bridging them. However, due to our inherent negative bias, we tend to spend WAY TOO MUCH time beating ourselves up.
Far beyond the level at which any learning is generated.
Here’s the challenge, though; you only get to pick ONE thing that needs work. Not two, not three. Just one. (I know that feels like it’s not enough, but there’s TRANSFORMATIVE power in hyper-focusing and putting all your energy in one place)
We usually overcommit on wanting to drive multiple changes at once in an effort to “start fresh” but end up making no progress on any. Instead, we want to focus on just ONE THING this coming period and then compound these over the years. (Imagine if you targeted just ONE thing since you were 20, how far ahead would you be by now?)
Let me bring this point closer to home: How many New Year’s resolutions did you commit to in January?
Be honest, how many of these have you accomplished?
If you’re like me, my progress starts to lag whenever my focus is divided. Instead, a potent mindset shift I experienced is compounding singular wins. Focusing on ONE thing and crushing through that goal as fast as I can not only boosts my confidence and motivation, but it also compounds in the long run.
Shifting your mind to think long can be the single most transformative (and peaceful) goal-setting approach.
And practicing self-compassion is KEY.
Science tells us self-compassion is activated through three main pillars: Common Humanity, Kindness, and Mindfulness.
Reflecting on the past six months, recall ONE thing you believe needs adjustments and alignments.
This can be a habit, a goal, a relationship, or even a state of mind (anxious, demotivated, etc..). I know many things will come up; remember the challenge (and reward) here is to focus on just ONE. So choosing only one out of the many that come up.
As you recall, see if it is possible to actively bring a sense of compassion and kindness to this reality (whether it is you, someone else, or something else that needs work). Science tells us that compassion is a more powerful motivator than punishment!
Did you know that you can literally ENGINEER hope?
In his book, Making Hope Happen, Dr. Shane Lopez tells us that there are three empirically-validated ingredients to creating hope:
(I’m throwing in a lot of science at you in this article, I know 😅. This is the last of them)
Clear and exciting GOAL
AGENCY (confidence) in your ability to show up and do what’s needed to make this goal happen
Different PATHWAYS to reach that goal (knowing that life will challenge you and block some)
And hope is considered one of the TOP virtues for an effective and flourishing individual.
While clarity on the goal and confidence in your ability to do the work will PROPEL you forward, having different pathways will be your biggest lever. The reality is that life will continue to challenge you, and not having the waypower (not willpower) to adapt and activate new plans toward the goal quickly will leave you fragile (and rigid).
Curiosity is a powerful attitude to bring whenever you want to define different pathways (and Da Vinci tells us it is the #1 virtue to pursue).
When embodying honest and authentic curiosity, you are wiser, creative, understanding, compassionate, and energized. Think of it for a second: being curious has run so deep in your values since you were a baby exploring the world; without curiosity, you wouldn’t have learned how to speak, walk, play, or learn. Unfortunately, as we grow older, we start framing our belief system with walls that fit our society but block our curiosity.
A powerful way to move forward on the ONE thing that Needs Work is to bring curiosity in finding different pathways to work on it.
Life Application: For the one thing you identified in your reflection, explore the different ways you can work on it.
Get creative. These pathways can build on your strengths (ways you’ve achieved similar feats before), be new things you haven’t explored, or even bring the knowledge you don’t have (reading, coaching, training).
There is no limit here; the more, the merrier to create a strong Waypower.
Congratulations on reading through this dense letter - as I said, we have to go deep to create fundamental transformations.
If you didn’t have the time to follow along, I suggest you block out 30 minutes in your calendar this week to go through it; you’ll get massive dividends on this investment.
AND if you need help unpacking this further, reach out, and I’d be more than happy to help.
Have a Super Sunday! ⚡️
With much joy,
PS. In July, I will be running an 8-week empirically validated mindfulness program called MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) that was started by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn more than four decades ago. This program is the most researched mindfulness program in the world, deeply rooted in science, and has consistently been shown to deliver positive outcomes associated with increased self-awareness, as well as emotional and attentional regulation.
I studied this program at Brown University and then continued to the University of California San Diego, where I am currently teaching under mentorship.
If you’re interested in joining the program starting in July, click the link below to sign up for the orientation session and then decide if it is the right fit for you.