02 Jan 2023

What are your goals for the new year? Sorry, this is not an article about New Year’s resolutions, but please read on.

When the year changes, cultural stories and expectations indicate we’re supposed to set new goals. We get inundated by messages about making all sorts of resolutions, like losing weight or breaking some negative habit. But rarely do we stop to consider if popular narratives are really what we really need.

Our default at the beginning of a new year may be to try changing external behaviors without considering the stuff inside, that made us poor or fat or out of shape in the first place.

It’s hard to change the outside if the inside is still the same.

I found that focusing on internal change leads to genuine external change!!! So instead of starting with the external, it makes much more sense to focus on the internal! The rest will likely take care of itself.

I love how Kathleen Dowling Singh expressed the following in her book, The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older:

“Lost in what seems like comfort, the vast majority of us have allowed unexamined attitudes to live our lives for us. And the more we allow our habitual mental and emotional habits to remain unexamined, the more we continue to grasp on to the illusory belief in the small, separate self that identifies with those habits.”

As a student of the social sciences, I have spent a great deal of effort analyzing human behavior at both the individual and collective levels. I’ve found that we humans are a delicate mix of cultural values and expectations, perceptions, personal traumas, and other factors which influence how we think, what we focus on and how we behave. Each time we encounter something new, we react or interact with it based on all the other experiences and thinking patterns we developed previously. It’s certainly easier to go through life living like everyone else, following cultural norms and not rocking the boat, even though many of the boats we occupy are in terrible shape and are taking on water.

It seems obvious that living a healthy life involves much intentionality. So, we might ask: WHAT KIND OF PERSON DO I WANT TO BE IN 2023?

I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché, “Be a human BEING, not a human DOING.” Ouch!

We all know that people who don’t deal with their fears, hurts and hang-ups, live out of them; they influence every thought, each narrative and every relationship.

Singh continued: “Unless we question with the intention to see, our experience of life continues and will continue, stressed and embroiled. When we remain in the confines of selfing, we’re like the drowning animal that gets stuck in an eddy. All else flows with the clear and aerated stream, effortlessly and with ease, but the animal just keeps getting battered with whatever other debris lands in the same backwater. It keeps getting beaten, over and over, against the same rocks.”

When you have a negative reaction, learn to ask yourself what is really going on, because there is always something going on—the thing behind the thing. Getting to that the only way to escape the eddy!

Be open to helpful ideas, no matter where they come from. Give yourself permission to look for insights from places you may not have pursued 5 or ten years ago. It’s ok!

There are many paths to enlightenment and freedom. I hope you will seek and find those that encourage your journey. It’s never too late to learn. It’s never too late to change thinking patterns. It’s never too late to grow into a healthy, fully present HUMAN BEING!


Father and teacher Richard Rohr talks about a third (counter cultural) way of living that, “demands a transformation of consciousness and a move beyond the dualistic win/lose mind.”

You are a human doing; life requires that. But give yourself permission this year to be a more intentional HUMAN BEING.


Photo taken on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash







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