Welcome to Week 1 of The Whole U’s six-week Dare to Do New Year’s challenge! This week, thousands from across the University of Washington community will Dare to Pause, reflect on the past year, and set goals for the year ahead. For each successive week of the challenge, we’ll be focusing on a different area of overall wellness—you can learn how it works and register here.
To get things started, here’s Danny Arguetty, manager of UW Recreation’s Mindfulness Program, whose perspective and exercises exploring what it means to “begin again” will start you on the path to defining and achieving your goals for 2020 and beyond! To see what else is happening this January as part of the Dare to Do challenge, check out these upcoming events.
Does this time of year feel familiar? Like you’ve been here before? When January rolls around it is often a time for many to reflect on what has unfolded in the past year and what might the focus be for the year ahead. Time tends to go fast as we live our lives, but in reality, time is really about perception.
One of the benefits of weaving in mindfulness and expanded awareness into your daily/weekly life is that it can actually slow this perception of time down. Pausing to be with what is before us can infuse richness into moments and help us remember what our highest values are and how we can better take care of our physical, mental, and emotional health.
So, first take some time to reflect on the year that has just passed. Take out a journal and explore the following questions. Answer just the ones you resonate with most, and you don’t have to just use words; drawing also works well!
- What are three of your most nourishing memories from the past year?
- How did you change? What did you let go of? What did you discover about yourself?
- What are 50 things you are grateful for that transpired in 2019?
- When did fear hold you back this year?
- How did you practice courage in the last 12 months?
- What surprised you in 2019?
- Is there something you want to forgive yourself for during this year?
- Is there someone else you want to forgive this year?
- If the events of 2019 were encapsulated in a best-selling novel what would the title and sub-title be?
Now start to focus on the year ahead. One practice that I have found useful for the last two years is to choose one word that serves as my guiding light for the year ahead. It is a sweet anchor that I can return to and check-in with. In 2018 it was adventure, 2019 I resonated with the theme of depth.
Take some time to breathe and feel and see what comes up for you. What word/concept/essence/core value resonates with you most? Once you are clear, you can explore the following contemplations:
- How are you already embodying this core value?
- If you engaged with this as your guiding light for the year, what would be different about you on December 31st 2020?
- What are four other words/values that would bolster this one to fully thrive?
What’s wonderful about connecting with a theme for the year is that you can set specific goals to accomplish during the year that bolster this larger vision. For example, in my year of adventure, I sat down and planned out one large adventure trip for the year (celebrating my 40th in Hawaii with five of my closest friends). In addition, I would journal before the start of each month to get clear and make commitments around cultivating one or two smaller adventures before the month’s end. The key is to revisit and engage with your chosen word throughout the year.
Moreover, notice that this invites you to infuse this once concept into every fabric of your life. As opposed to focusing on a single goal (losing weight, gaining strength, healing a broken heart, making more money), this invites you to think of other ways to cultivate your goals.
Our life is interconnected, so how you do anything is how you do everything. If health or vitality is your word, it isn’t just about what you eat or how much you move your body; it requires attention in many facets of your world.
In addition to or in place of this practice, here are some other prompts you can journal on to frame 2020:
- What part of yourself do you want to evolve or nurture most the year ahead?
- How do you want to grow in the realm of work, goals, or dreams?
- What do you want to craft in your relationships, friendships, and family?
- How do you want to invest in your hobbies, practices of self-care, physical environment?
- Are there any beliefs that you want to engage with? Challenge?
Finally, as you engage with this upcoming year, it is important to remember that will power is a losing game. If you are committed to making changes, employ compassion, change your environment (more veggies in the fridge and less processed foods), get community support, use reminders (amazing use of calendars and smart phones), write yourself sticky notes all over your home, and practice the 51% rule (the idea that our brain’s neural network doesn’t need 100% of anything to build new habits, but if you build towards doing something 51% of the time it will start becoming more routine).
It takes time. The pop-culture three weeks to change a habit is full of hot air. It takes at minimum three months (at 51%) to make a substantial long-lasting shift. Play the long game, celebrate success, live your intentions and always remember that life is dynamic and changing.
In every moment you can begin again. If you find yourself off course give thanks that you noticed and get back in the game. You don’t need to wait to step into greater alignment with your heart, intentions, and dedicated spirit!
Danny Arguetty, M.A., is the mindfulness program manager at the University of Washington, a yoga teacher (and teacher trainer), nutrition/life coach, and a lover of the environment. He is the author of Nourishing the Teacher and The 6 Qualities of Consciousness. Passionate about helping people flourish through mindfulness, wellness, and personal self-development, he has over a decade’s worth of experience in group facilitation, one-on-one coaching, and experiential teaching.
Danny has guided workshops throughout the United States, led basic and advanced yoga trainings in the U.S. and India, and spoken at Facebook, Olson Kundig, and Gravity Payments (all in Seattle). He served as adjunct faculty at Williams College, leads a quarterly course on Intro to Mindfulness at UW, and is a faculty member at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Read more about Danny here.