I always get a bit antsy around the new year. Every year, no matter where I’m at in my life, I experience an internal battle between my ego and my soul. It goes something like this:
Ego: “Alright, we’re about to start a new year! Let’s get our shi* together.”
Soul: “But I’m exhausted! I just spent a month eating all sorts of unhealthy food and listening to endless small talk.”
Ego: “Suck it up, weakling! You can’t handle a few treats and some conversation? What are you, a hermit? We need to start planning for an epic new year!”
Soul: “Can’t I just put on this snuggie and lay on the couch for awhile?”
Ego: “Snuggies are for sloths! You’re not a sloth – you’re a leader. A trailblazer. What would the world be like if Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. had chosen snuggies over success?”
Soul: “Well, I’m hardly Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. Can’t I just allow the year to unfold organically?”
Ego: “Stop speaking woo-woo. The only thing that should unfold organically next year is your kale. Otherwise we need to get to work. You need goals! A business plan! A ten step process!”
You get the idea.
So here I am, on December 29th, with no solid business plan for 2016. I have a few things in mind, like teaching a positive psychology course and continuing my research consulting business, but I don’t know exactly how these things are going to unfold or where they are going to lead.
At the moment I have no grand professional goal. I’m not trying to reach diamond status while selling vitamins or essential oils. I’m not trying to obtain a certain dollar figure in my bank account. I’m not planning to have children or buy a house or get a new car. I have no strategy for retirement.
Then there are the things I feel like I “should” do. Things like fleshing out the book idea I’ve been sitting on for three years…or leading a personal development retreat in Prague…or updating my website…or creating a new online course.
Some of these things might happen. Others might not.
Am I being irresponsible? Maybe.
Because despite the waves of anxiety, sadness, and disillusionment that I often experience while in this in-between space, I’m also happier than I’ve been in a long time.
Right now, my time is my own. And after years of experimenting with a variety of jobs in academia and the corporate world, I’ve gotten somewhat used to what it feels like to be a one-woman entrepreneur.
Sure, I could make all sorts of business plans for 2016. I’ve tried this type of thing in the past. It turns me into an obsessive, goal-focused gremlin who has trouble harnessing the agility that’s often needed in small business environments. For example, right now I’m scheduled to teach a positive psychology course starting in February, and I have a few research consulting clients who are interested in starting new projects with me in 2016. However, my Czech work visa still hasn’t been approved, which means my course might get canceled. And while I have every hope that my consulting clients will continue to want my services, I have no guarantees.
I can choose to hold tightly to these goals, or I can choose to trust a formula that has worked for me in the past:
Intuition + Good Work = Success on My Terms
When I work, I work well. I strive to be at the top of my game. But I try to limit myself to projects that my intuition (and synchronicity) guide me toward. This formula leads to my own personal definition of success, which typically involves living an authentic life that honors my values.
This means that my one-woman show is often a paradox of intense fear and boundless grace.
It requires me to push myself. A lot. And it also requires down time so that I can recover from the pushing.
This new year, try taking a step back from your well-laid goals and plans. What would 2016 look like if you allowed your Soul, or True Self, to take the lead? Maybe you’ll curl up in a snuggie for two weeks (or months) and then emerge with an idea to invent the next big thing. Or maybe you’ll find a mentor to take you through the steps required to eventually reach your goals.
If you’re like me, and your soul and ego are in the midst of a heated battle, experiment with listening to your soul. See if you can trust that your soul has a plan that’s bigger than any MBA-inspired process. And by bigger, I don’t mean easier. I just mean more authentic.
My wish for you (and for myself) in 2016 is to trust our souls more. To embrace the paradox of love and fear that often comes with following the guidance of our True Self.
This year, may you hear your own voice with such intensity that it is impossible to ignore. May you follow its guidance, regardless of what others think.
What is your soul asking of you in 2016? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Happiest of new years
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on how to create a life you love, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
Image courtesy of Mink Mingle.January 3, 2016