Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What's new?

The new year has started - or almost started depending on whether or not you have kids who are still home from school. What's going to be new about it for you this year?

You probably did not wake up today feeling different than any other day (although in Toronto, the sun was shining on the snow which always feels fresh and new). You probably have the same job, the same home, and the same goals. So what's new?

We all have lists - some of us have written lists. They are not unlike the lists that make the best course feedback with students:
what should you keep doing? what should you stop doing? what should you do that is new? What happens when you think of your life as something you are doing (not something that is happening to you or something that you have)? Try it.

Six weeks ago, I started going to the gym. So far, it's working for me. Oddly, people respond with "you're so good" when I escape to the gym five times a week. I'm almost finished explaining that I do not go because I'm good - I go because being there makes me feel good. The new year feels new to me because, paradoxically, it is reminding me of who I was more than twenty years ago when regular exercise was part of the way I lived.

I do not have very specific goals for my time at the gym. I have a personal trainer so I can be encouraged and taught, not so that I can be pushed. I do not care very much how fast I improve or what I weigh at the end of the week. I am making progress precisely because I have criteria but I do not have set goals. That's something else that's new for me. I'm reserving specific goals for specific situations and running more of my life on the quality of the process.

Look around. Making things new means adding some things and letting go of others. It means rearranging the furniture - real and figurative. Sometimes it even means knowing you like what you have now. What will it mean for you?

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