When the ball dropped at midnight on New Years’ Eve, did you close your eyes and silently wish that 2008 will be the year you become, create or do those things you’ve dreamed of? Did you hope you would magically become a better or a new person imbued with the characteristics that would make your dreams come true? Or did you resign yourself to the fact that 2008 is bound to be just another year like all the others – a year in which nothing at all changes?
What defines who will succeed in making the changes they desire and who will not? Why do some resolutions end up on your list year after year after year? And why do other things you desire seem to manifest easily and effortlessly? Success leaves a trail. By following the trail that has led to the successes in your life, you can pin down your own “success blueprint” and then use it to create the things, experiences and states of being that you desire. So, how can you make 2008 different from last year? How can you actually create the changes you failed to make in 2007? How do you keep from being one of the four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions but fail to keep them? You begin by viewing change in a different way. Instead of wishing for a magic wand, find a roadmap that will lead you from where you are today to where you want to be. We all need a process to harness our purpose, passion and desires. Processes take time and require our attention, and often involve more than a simple change in behavior.
In real life, personal change often requires both an internal process of change as well as an external one. To actually create change, accomplish goals or make our resolutions become realities, we can treat the process of creating change as if we are growing a garden. Indeed, we can “grow change” by “planting seeds of change.'” We do this by looking inward at the issues we have that prevent us from creating change. We also look at the successes we have accomplished in our lives to find clues for creating future successes. The process of internal discovery prepares the soil and weeds our existing garden to make room for new seeds to be planted and to grow. Then we set our intentions for change – actually plant the seed of our desires – and carefully tend the garden by taking actions – sometimes just small steps each day or week – to help nurture the change. Step by step, we move closer to our goal. We help the seedling – the change we desire – to develop deep roots, to grow strong and, eventually, to bear fruit.
Anyone can plant seeds of change and then watch them grow by taking the following four steps:
1. Cultivate the soil – This requires doing the inner work necessary to allow change to happen. In this step, we must each look carefully and honestly at what stops us – now and in the past – from achieving our goals. Are we afraid? Does it feel too hard? We must explore these issues and find ways to move through them, thus preparing ourselves to become a fertile growing space for the change we desire. This can involve finding compelling reasons to change, and developing a “burning desire” to change when we know we need to change but don’t necessarily want to change. In addition, at this stage you might want to find a life coach or counselor to help you move through your issues, or to use creative visualization techniques, affirmations or other human potential tools.
2. Planting the seed – This step combines the inner work of step one with the outer work of actually doing something to begin creating the desired change. At this point, we actually plant the seed of change in the soil we have cultivated. We define what it is that we want to create and state our intention in a clear, concise, measurable, and attainable way. This intention becomes the seed we plant and nurture.
3. Fertilizing and watering the seed -We now begin to take action to make the change occur. By taking the time to help that little seed grow strong roots, it will hold firmly in the soil as it sprouts and begins growing strong in the world. We must nurture the seedling and give it the essentials, like water, food and attention, to be sure its growth is not impeded or stopped. In this step we also look at past successes and build our own personal Success Blueprint. Tools to use during this growing phase are visualizing the goal, taking time to focus on our intention and being grateful for each little success along the way. Part of the fertilizing process is doing one thing a day or a week to help us move towards our goal. We must make small changes and take baby steps while always staying focused on the end result we desire. We may not know exactly how our desire will manifest, but it is important that we consistently do something – anything – to help us move in the direction of our desires.
4. Harvesting the fruit – Over time, the love, care and attention we give to the seed of change causes it to grow into a mature plant that bears tangible fruits. In this final step, it becomes possible to harvest those fruits, which show up as the changes we desire, enjoy them and, most importantly, be grateful. Just as our seed has grown, through the process of planting it and caring for it, we have also grown. We are ready to allow the fruits of our inner and outer labor to become real and a part of our life and who we are at this moment.
Many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions, because they don’t see change happening fast enough. If we let the change we desire grow, like a flower – indeed, if we help it grow by nurturing it and giving it our consistent attention, we will find we have accomplished much by December 31, 2008. By approaching New Year’s resolutions in this manner, change is allowed to happen naturally, organically, without being forced. We may not see our resolutions achieved over night using this process, but we will see them achieved. In addition, by actively engaging in the process of change by planting seeds in fertile ground, nurturing the growing plant and then consciously harvesting the mature, tangible fruits, we gain all the gems of knowledge and experience the process has to offer – which is just as important as reaching your goal.