A key to a new year!

A new year, baby!

I love when I first realized that I could start over whenever I want. I don’t have to wait for a new year to have a new beginning. My new beginnings are not limited to culturally dictated calendar cycles. As a young person, my year began in September. As a homeschooling parent the year began with our “annual fort-building season.” When I was in the business world, I was on a fiscal calendar that varied from company to company. Liturgically speaking, Advent was my alpha and omega. A career in retail meant my year began in October, anticipating every holiday before it arrived.

No resolutions!

I am not a fan of New Year resolutions. New beginnings happen at any point I choose. This year, I was slowed in my tracks when a friend asked me: “what do you want to take with you into the new year?” This was a compelling question for me, one that I have shared freely with friends and colleagues. Is there something of the last year that I happily take with me into the new year? In answer, I heard “balance,” “playfulness,” “connection,” and “hope.” With clients, I sometimes ask what word do you want as your focus for the next year, or month, or even week. This is more of an aspirational query, suggesting a new addition to my outlook or practice. Willingness, curiosity, tolerance, and resilience came up this year.

Taking an Inventory

After a career in retail, the process of taking a periodic inventory makes sense to me. It seems familiar and efficient, even prudent to look and see what I have on the shelves. I notice what is missing. I jot down the things that need to be reordered. I find out what has been discontinued and will need to be replaced. And I identify things that are not moving and wonder why. Does it need more visibility? Is it no longer in style? Has it lost it’s freshness? Perhaps a new display will help. When I apply my retail inventory to myself, all of the same questions make sense to me.

Keep this, let that go

What is working and what is not working for me in my life, today? Using the questions below, you could take stock of yourself and your relationships. you could make intentional choices about what you want to keep and what you want to replace. You can fill in the empty spots on the shelf. Decide what needs to be up front where everyone can see it and what is better left in the stock room. Does everything need to be on the floor at once or do you want to rotate your goods? What are your best sellers and why? What are you having a hard time getting rid of and why?

Imago Dialogue and Taking Stock

Imago Relationship Therapy uses dialogue as a therapeutic tool to build connection, create safety and explore our differences. Couples might find the following inventory useful as they envision the relationship they long to co-create today. Individuals can use the questions to self-reflect on their past and imagine the future they are crafting.

Invite your partner, a family member or close friend to join you on a visioning journey. Working separately, finish each sentence stem with three or more things that come to mind. Write down your answers and arrange to share them with your partner, a family member, or close friend. One person will read each prompt while the listener mirrors back what s/he hears. Complete your whole inventory and then trade places and repeat. In this way, you create the vision of who you aspire to be in the next few months. Check in with each other periodically, to see how your vision is emerging. Some people will want to work with a trained professional Imago Relationship Therapist to learn how to use Imago dialogue.

  • The ways you/I have enhanced my life in the last year/few months include:
  • The ways I would like you/me to enhance my life in the next few months include:
  • What you/I did that helped me to feel loved and safe with you/others, in the last year/few months, include:
  • What you/I could do to help me to feel loved by and safe with you/others, in the next few months, include:
  • The precious memories in our relationship/my life I have from the last year/few months include:
  • The precious memories I would like us/me to create in the next few months include:
  • The ways I saw you/myself grow emotionally, psychologically and relationally in the last year/few months were:
  • The ways I would like you/me to grow in the next few months include:
  • What I learned from you/myself (by watching you/me and just living with you/me) in the last year/few months , on how I could be a better partner/person in our relationship/the world, include:
  • What I would like (us) to learn about what we/I need to do in our relationship/the world to deepen our/my connection (to myself or others) in the next few months include:

Your new beginning starts here and now. Have a great relationship/life, unless you have other plans!