New Beginnings

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
— Joseph Campbell

In the US, we often associate new beginnings with the new year - January 1st. We make resolutions, we work on them, and some of us break them only to feel terrible about ourselves. No, this post is not about New Year’s resolutions. It’s about making new beginnings. We make new beginnings every day. Often multiple times a day.


Ever notice that for Nature to take on something new, it first sheds something old?  The Sun rises and creates a new day as night fades into dawn. Every season brings with it a new set of weather phenomena, replacing the old for another year. Spring breathes new life into plants and trees.  In Autumn, dead leaves and dry twigs are shed – and the trees are ready to welcome new leaves and branches. If we were to take on something new, do we stop to take stock of the situation, and figure out what we might need to get rid of to make room for it?

Our Current State

 Some of us often have packed days, full of activities, to-do lists, responsibilities, chores, tasks at work, and social obligations. We are constantly in the "doing" phase most of our waking moments. (See my previous blog post that talks about being vs. doing) We live as if there are more than 24 hours in a day and tend to live large, live to the fullest, and live beyond our means. In what ways? We overdo in so many departments - eat too much, work too much, party too much, surf the web too much - so much so that it eats into our sleep and then we sleep too little. Some of us oversleep on the weekends thinking we can make up for the lost hours. It doesn't quite work that way. We do need to get reasonable hours of good quality sleep every day, for our bodies and brains to function optimally.


Our brains can get overworked and may be unable to process and make sense of all the information that's being thrown at us every second of the day (and night). Life is more complex than ever. Work may not just be 9 to 5 anymore. Children don't just grow up on their own with minimal supervision anymore - there is an expectation (and perhaps need) of greater parental involvement in every little aspect of their childhood and growth. The omnipresence of social media means our social interactions have become more complex and at the same time, somehow less meaningful than they used to be. We mindlessly like posts, add hug and kiss emojis to texts messages, and say that we are LOLing without even so much as a hint of a smile on our faces. Our brains and minds can go into overdrive, and finally out of fatigue, just get numb to anything new or exciting.  Many of us end up just getting by in life, instead of thriving. We go through the motions without much joy and excitement.


Do you experience this? Do you feel like you can't add one more thing to your already overflowing plate? If so, here are some things you can try:


·       To take on or start something new, make space by getting rid of something old - old in this instance signifies anything that doesn't serve you anymore or in fact, might hinder your progress.  This includes both material and non-material clutter.

·       Fierce prioritization - In this seemingly limitless world, we still are not able to physically, mentally, intellectually, energetically, and time-wise, function in a limitless manner. Remember we took steps in March to prioritize in some other areas? You can apply those steps here too to figure out what truly matters and what truly deserves your time, energy, effort, and so on.

 Where do you start?

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”
— Herman Hesse

 Reflection: Sometimes it seems like there are just too many things to deal with, or the priorities are competing and difficult to cull. Here is an exercise with a set of questions to help you reflect and act on it. Some questions may or may not apply to you or your life. If not, simply file them away for possible later use.


·       Take stock of the situation - What do I really want? What do I want to achieve?
Have more time in the day to relax or do fun things or spend time with your family? Have more money to be able to go out with friends, save for retirement, travel the world? Have energy left to do something meaningful for yourself like, say, learning a new skill by reducing the number of tasks, chores, work-related extra activities that you take home every night?

When we know our “why”, it might be easier to make changes, stay the course, make the difficult right decisions.
— Simon Sinek

·       Why do I want this?
As we have learned in the previous blog posts, if we know the "why" behind certain decisions or actions, then we are more likely to stick to them and/or be on board than if they were made for us (our parents, spouse, boss, etc.)

·       Even harder to figure out is what do I really need?
Can you be honest with yourself and find out what it is that you need the most at this time? Sometimes what we want ("CAKE!!") and what we need (healthy eating to lose excess weight or fight diabetes) are two different things. So ask this question another way: What's going to be in my best interest?

·       What's in the way?
- Friends? Especially those that expect you to go to a movie without considering your schedule.

- Coworkers? Especially those who bring donuts (or cupcakes or pastries) and potentially derail you from your healthy eating lifestyle?

- Bad habits? Thoughts? Dreams? Wishes? Behaviors?

- Apathy? Being overwhelmed?

- Material possessions? - A thousand clothes and yet, nothing to wear?

·       What's at dissonance?
What's not working? What's leaving you mentally exhausted, unfulfilled, unsatisfied with your life in general and with this situation in particular - time, money, energy, etc.?

·       What must go?
Sometimes it is as easy as "This is not working, therefore, this must go" and that's the end of the story. Sometimes, it's not so black and white - you still have to work on those extra tasks and bring them home every night, or spend money on certain things like high speed internet if you are working from home part of the time. So the answer to this question can come from answering or listing what's extraneous and can afford to go.

·       When it leaves, how will I feel?
Joy, sorrow, anxiety, emptiness, fear of the unknown? Both animate and inanimate objects have a tendency to attract us and we get attached to them. Are there people in your life who consistently suck out your positive energy when you are trying to keep your chin up?  Or friends who always seem to be making plans and dragging you along even if you had committed to piano practice that evening?  Or do you always seem to spend money on the “wrong things”, like going to expensive restaurants when you are trying to save money for an emergency fund?

·       Why do I care?
Being aware of how we might feel in losing our possessions will prepare us to deal with the feelings - hopefully, temporarily. This will also save you from sliding into regret, or later adding that possession back into ownership and stalling the process.

·       When will I do this?
Commit to a date on your calendar to doing this exercise and the act of letting go. No time like the present. Schedule it!



·       Letting go of anything is not an easy task. By no means am I minimizing the pain or sorrow you'd feel of losing that which you are attached to. Try these two concepts from Marie Kondo's book about tidying up: When you are going through your list of what you want to keep and what must go, ask yourself, "Does this bring me joy?" If the answer is yes, keep it. If the answer is no, let go. Then, thank your old possessions for serving you and for having been useful, taking care of you, etc. before you let go of them.

This technique works for feelings or non-physical things as well. For example, while letting go of a fear, ask yourself: Does this still serve me and/or protect me? If it doesn’t, thank that fear for having protected you up until now. If you are mourning a death or loss, you might ask yourself: Who is it helping for you to hold on to this feeling? If it doesn’t help you, you might think of honoring the departed with an internal ceremony or celebration, and moving on.


·       Another book that comes to mind is Managing Transitions by William Bridges. He defines change as something external to us, something physical, an event - for example, the day the baby was born, an acquisition of a company, date the divorce was finalized, the day grandma died, etc. Often, we don’t have control over these events. On the other hand, transition is something that happens internal to us and typically starts with an ending - the new parents don't have the freedom to party all night long anymore, the company ceases to be its own entity, the marriage is dissolved and is not an institution or a relationship anymore, grandma is not around anymore, etc. Even though the date of the event is decided, how we react to it and accept or come to terms with the new beginning or new reality depends on each of us. Some of us might take to the new reality quickly, and others might need weeks or months or even years to recover from the change. When we understand and accept that transitions are internal, it helps us to take them in stride.


Success Check: How do you know you nailed it? This one's easy! Well, relatively. If it's material possessions that you got rid of, you will have more space or your place will look tidy and neat and clean; if it's activities, then more time; if expenses, then more money; and if extra work, chores or activities then more energy. You get the gist. If it is non-material possessions or feelings you were dealing with, you might feel lighter because you won’t have sorrow or negativity weighing you down and you might feel hopeful because you have let go of your fear.


So what do you have more of now as a result?


Challenge: We need to keep doing this activity periodically to make sure old thinking patterns don’t resurface and to address new undesirable thinking patterns. You may see incremental results over time, or you may have a breakthrough and see results all at once. To help you stay on track, ask yourself:

·       How can I make this reflection process a regular occurrence? A habit?

·       How often will I undertake this exercise? Schedule it!


Share in comments below:

·       What are you letting go?

·       What are you making space for? With?

·       How often will you check?

·       What tool/s is/are your favorite? What else do you use or practice?


Sneak Peek: Next week, we will look into another aspect of new beginnings - the new beginnings that go dead or disappear even before they start. Curious what this is about? Come back here next week!

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.
— Lao Tzu

March Madness - Zooming Out

Find out who you are and do it on purpose. 
— Dolly Parton

Last week, you filled out this sentence:


"I am passionate about ……… It is of the utmost importance to me in my life because…………I will live a fulfilled life authentic to who I am when …………."


Or, maybe this sentence resonated more with you:


"I want to focus on ……. It is of the utmost importance to me at this point in my life because ……….When I incorporate this in my life I will be able to……….."


You are pumped that you have finally zeroed in on that one thing you are passionate about. Now what? 

Illuminate the path with the light of your thought.
— Supriya Gurjar Troup

 Now comes a two-part process of first "zooming out" - exploring what behaviors we may have that can help us (or hurt us) in realizing our passion (or ultimate goal for March, from last week's blog); and second, "zooming in" - narrowing down our behaviors to just one or two that are best suited to help us. For some of us, this will be a straightforward process - we may have a good grasp already of how we've been behaving, and what behaviors we need to adopt (or change) going forward. If so, great!   But for most of us, this will require a lot of time and effort and self-analysis. That's why we are going to divide the work into two parts.  So, here is our goal for this week.


Our Goal this week To explore behaviors/habits/skills that will help you to make your ultimate goal a reality - and also, to identify behaviors/habits/skills that may be preventing you from reaching this ultimate goal


Let's get started!

It’s life that matters, nothing but life—the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all.
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Idiot
By Fyodor Dostoevsky

 Part I: Zoom Out - Exploring Our Behaviors, Habits, and Skills


How beautifully symbolic that I am writing this looking at the vast Pacific Ocean. The waves are crashing and the blue-gray spreads to the horizon as the water and the sky become one. The Sun hasn't risen yet. There's anticipation, there's hope, there's excitement in Nature - you can almost hear it in the energy. The ocean means a lot of things to me - it's where I feel at home, it calms me, it's vastness puts everything in perspective for me - I am a small speck in a large universe and my worries and concerns are proportionately small. The limitlessness of it makes me think of possibilities, and literally broadens my horizon.


 So now, if you find that perspective helpful, use it to help you step back and take a broad view.  Ask yourself, "In order for me to make progress toward reaching my goal:"

  • What behaviors do I need?

  • What habits do I need to create/change?

  • What skills do I need to build or hone?

 You might find it helpful to make 3 columns on a piece of paper, and list behaviors in the first column, habits in the second, and skills in the third. Or if you think you have a lot to write down, you may want to note these on separate pages. Just like the brainstorming step in our previous blog post, go crazy! Don't limit yourself at this stage. 


At this point, I'd like to throw out a general warning.  NOT that any of you would do this!   But... please remember when listing your skills and behaviors that it's important to be honest.  You know yourself best, and you know whether the behaviors, habits, and skills you've listed are true and accurate.  If you aren't honest during this step of the process, it will be difficult to achieve your goals in the end.


After you have a good solid list, try to think of which behaviors, habits, or even skills you may have that might be preventing you from making progress toward your ultimate goal for this month.  You might ask, "How can a skill be keeping me from making progress?"  Let's say your job requires you to think on your feet, and over time you've developed the ability to adapt quickly to any situation.  This skill, while valuable on the job, might make it difficult for you to keep to a schedule, or even to create a schedule in the first place.  If you find you need a strict schedule to realize your ultimate goal, the "adaptability" skill may be getting in the way.  You would then want to create behaviors or habits at home that will help you keep to a schedule, leaving you free to continue to use the skill in the workplace.  To help identify possible areas for change, you can ask yourself:

  • What are some things that might be preventing me from taking action and making progress?

  • What am I tolerating?

  • What am I afraid of?

  • What am I not letting go of?


You can write your answers to these questions on a new page.  Being able to identify things that have prevented you from realizing your dreams is an important first step in overcoming them and allowing you to reach your ultimate goal.  But this kind of analysis can be difficult.  It can be easy to blame yourself for "letting things get in the way" and not already being where you want to be.  If you're feeling like this, it's important to remember to look at the big picture.  When viewing the situation in that perspective, an isolated view can be misleading. For example, if you are a single mother trying to raise children, putting food on the table, giving your children the  best education you can, your dreams may have taken a back seat during more stressful times. Berating yourself for that would not be a fair and just act. On the flip side, you might not look in depth at the problem and might miss important insights into how you work, behave, what makes you tick, what pushes your buttons, and many such details. Striking a balance when analyzing your own situation is both a practice and an art. The more you do it, the better you will get at it.


Need some inspiration?  It may be that some research will prove useful here.

  • Talk to people you know and trust who may have undertaken tasks similar to yours. What skills did they add? What behaviors did they change?

  • Read up on people you admire. Who are your role models? What do you admire the most about them? What was their situation? What did they do about it? How did they overcome challenges?

  • No role models? No problem. Search the web. There is a lot of information at our fingertips. Look up, read, but don't get lost in the web and end up reading about, say, 100 varieties of apples. Keep your exploration focused. While being in this mode of curiosity, it's easy to get lost and end up with not much in the way of useful information for the topic at hand.


Success Check: You now have a comprehensive list of all the behaviors/habits/skills that will take you closer on your path towards your ultimate goal. You should have discovered a lot about yourself in the process. You should also have a list of things that may have come in the way of your goals in the past, such as fears, things you've held onto, or situations you may have tolerated. Great job!

Share in comments below: What was easy about this exercise? What was really difficult? What stood out as some behaviors/habits/skills that you’d need to achieve your ultimate goal?


 Sneak Peek: I have hinted above but next week, we are going to zoom in and focus on ONE of these behavior/habit/skill that will make the most impact for you. We will put an action plan together so you can apply all that you are learning and acquiring here in your real world. See you next week!

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.
— Bertrand Russell