The Scots have a few bloody brilliant traditions. Most of them have to do with feasting and drinking, a few of them have to do with fighting. But hospitality and celebration is something they do well. One of the traditions I appreciate the most (because it lends itself to whisky drinking) is Hogmanay. This year I’ll be turning over the New Year with a select group of friends with good food and drink to hand. The celebrations will start early in the day as brunch with a friend then carry on into the night. I intend to drink some good whisky and start this year of life change well.
The season between my American Thanksgiving and the New Year is always awash with sentiment and good intentions. It’s in November that my heaviest reflections on the year past come to light and I put choices, desires and wishes into words for the coming year. Now, that they’ve had a little time to settle in – I set about my New Year celebration as a fine-tuning of the discipline required to see it all come to light. Hogmanay is more than just a party, it’s closing one chapter and very purposefully opening another with very good intentions.
So, here’s to a year in which I have big plans and I hope, so do you. Here’s a short list of good intentions for us all to share.
- Love well.
I read recently that love is part chemistry, part risk and part choice. I think it to be true, but in the opposite order. Choose well first and then risk bravely to love well. Love with compassion, with self-awareness and with honesty. Don’t love people because of how they make you feel, love them for the gift of your love is enough.
- Make bigger, bolder changes.
I’m shamelessly applying some lessons from my work here, but they hold true. Over time, incremental shifts will result in change. But it’s within your capacity to make bigger, bolder changes with faster, better results.
- Where you desire change, focus on what process, habit or behaviour you’re going to change, not on the end result.
If you want something to be different, focus on what you can change in your everyday life to get that change. Don’t focus on the change itself, because you never know what you’ll learn along the way.
- Spend time with children.
Children have a vitality and innocence in the way they see the world. Spend time with them so you can see the world through their eyes every so often.
- Work with your eyes on the horizon.
Don’t let your eyes stay so close to the immediate work of your hands that you forget to look up to where you are going. Go dream-chasing with everything you have. Keep your eyes steady focused on where you are headed.
- Don’t be afraid to say no, in order to achieve something more important.
If hibernating a little more will get me closer to my goals this year, I’m happy to do it. Don’t be afraid to order your life around the things that are most important to you.
- Tell the people you love that you love them and why.
Be sure to tell those you love, those that are precious to you why they are precious and how you love them. Tell them often, until it becomes uncomfortable because then it becomes an unavoidable truth. We get shy about sharing these things, but if there is anything I’ve learned from far too many funerals in 2014, it’s to express our love more frequently to one another. There are too many people who never hear it.
- Eat clean, sweat often, sleep decently, have (plenty of) good sex.
These are pretty self-explanatory – look after yourself. My goal is always to be ready to climb mountains. Those occasional, stay-up-til-dawn moments are magical if you have the reserves to do it. And by good sex, I mean, the loving, intimate, true kind – so whatever virtues you need to put around that, you do it. Unless you’re married/committed, in which case you should probably just go ahead and aim to have twice as much sex & intimacy next year as you did this year. It’s good for you.
- Choose a couple of key areas of personal development and self-awareness to grow in.
Without wanting to sound like Dr. Phil, this really is a gift you give yourself but also others. It doesn’t have to be big or even that hard, but try to work on a couple of insecurities and a couple of strengths. If you’re good at something but not doing it regularly – just find a small way of engaging that strength each week.
- Continue to be uncomfortably disturbed about a couple of things: something in your own life and something in the wider world.
Be passionate and compassionate about something bigger than yourself. It might be business-related, justice-related, social or political – but have something in the broader world that engages you. Talk about that, even if you can only do something small about it today, continue to be an advocate for something bigger than yourself.
So that’s it. Just some good intentions about living better.
My friend Jacqui posted this delightful little wish – I think it sums it up pretty perfectly. I’m down for the kissing, the making of things and definitely the surprising myself (and hopefully you too!) along the way.
Slainte mhor agus a h-uile beannachd duibh
(Good health and every good blessing to you!)