meaningful choices

3 Ways to Make More Meaningful Choices this Year

It’s a new year, and if you’re like me, it’s time to reflect on how our choices have changed us during the last twelve months. Time to evaluate our motivations to realign our purpose with our actions. What meaningful choices will you make in the new year?

It is part of human nature to want to feel purpose in our lives. To search for meaning in what we do. Reflecting on my progress either makes me feel overwhelmed or motivated depending on my hindsight and perspective.  When I feel I’m lacking it is easy to get overwhelmed, and when I’m progressing it tends to feed my motivation.

What allows us, as human beings, to psychologically survive life on earth, with all of its pain, drama, and challenges, is a sense of purpose and meaning.” Barbara De Angelis

Our purpose is not about being recognized for what we accomplish but is more of a desire for our life to have meant something when it is all said and done. So how do we make meaningful choices with more intention?

Meaningful Choices

Finding our purpose is directly related to the 35,000 choices we make each day. Life is often unpredictable and it’s easy to feel out of control. According to Tony Robbins, there are three choices we have control over in our lives.

What to focus on, what things mean, and what to do in spite of the challenges that may appear to limit us.”

Tony Robbins

These three choices – our focus, how we interpret life, and how we respond to challenges – are captivating to me. Have you ever considered using these as a foundation for your resolutions?

What to Focus On

It would be easy to focus on how we will save more money, what we won’t eat, and how we will make more time in the day to exercise and improve our relationships. Year after year these are some of the most common new year’s resolutions. We fail to reach these goals because our focus is on scarcity. Not enough money, time, or food.

Our brain is a powerful tool.  It is designed to notice scarcity, what we don’t have enough of. The more we try to stop focusing on something the more it will overpower our thoughts. Have you ever tried to not think about something and find your mind focusing on it even more?

Don’t think about chocolate for the next 5 minutes.  Try not to think about the different types of chocolate or how good your favorite chocolate tastes. Don’t think about the times of day you crave a piece of chocolate. It’s hard, isn’t it? The more you try, the more chocolate invades your thoughts – it’s just the way we are wired.

To stop focusing on one thing, we need to replace it with something else. Instead of setting a goal to save more find ways to make more. Rather than think about what you won’t eat, focus on what you will. Replace thoughts about your lack of time and how busy you feel with what you do have time for. Focus on sending positive vibes to your brain and changing the voice of scarcity to one of abundance. Try focusing on more meaningful choices.

A Word

I have a friend, who, for years has chosen a word to focus on for the year. One year the word was “ponder” and another it was “explore.”  She directed her energy, attention, and power toward what she wanted to start doing instead of what she wanted to stop.

I love this idea! To make it really work you have to find ways to live by it. Make it visible – so you see it throughout the day. Then find three ways to put it into action.

How do you incorporate your word for the year?

What Things Mean

Meaning is based on the value we give to something. It seems logical to make what we value most a higher priority in our lives, but this is not always the case. I was recently reminded of the priority jar analogy.

It goes something like this.  Your life is like a jar and all of your priorities are depicted by a pile of rocks, pebbles, and sand. The value or importance of our priorities is represented by the size of the rock, pebble, and sand. To get everything to fit we have to ensure we put the larger items first. How often do we start with the sand? Filling our jar with the less important things losing room or time for the most important?

For years I have kept what I call my little brown book or resolutions journal. In it, I track my progress on designated key indicators from year to year, prioritize what my “big rocks” are for the coming year, and record my testimony.  I love to pull it out each January and witness the progress I have made over the years.  

What to do with Challenges

It takes courage to face our challenges rather than allowing them to limit us. How often do our challenges sneak up and take us by surprise? Do we have a plan in place for how we will choose to respond when the unexpected pops up?

When my kids were little I noticed there were two types of kids. They would all be out playing, riding their bikes, or climbing on the jungle gym and would from time to time fall.  One type would jump back up, brush off the dirt and keep on playing.  The other would wallow in despair until someone came to the rescue.

What type of kid are you? When you fall do you jump back up and get back in the game, or do you allow your challenges to keep you down?

It is all a matter of mindset. We can choose ahead of time how we will respond to our challenges and when they happen we know what to do.  

Finding our Purpose

What meaningful choices can you make this year? Finding a purpose has been proven to make more life more rewarding and enjoyable. A purpose is what motivates me to change.

Our reward in life will always be in direct proportion to what we contribute to life.” -Hal Urban

We find our purpose by submitting to what we already hope to be true. Self-doubt and despair are the only roadblocks to becoming who we really want to be. Nike’s motto says it all: Just Do It! Stop making excuses. Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged or distracted. Start today and be the person you want to be.

I’m reminded of the poem “The Dash.”  It is the line between your birth and — death representing all you did in your life. As you look to make more meaningful choices this year think about “The Dash.”  

The Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning to the end.

He noted first came her date of her birth and spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered the most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own; the cars, the house, the cash.
What matter is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard, are things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more
And love other people in our lives like we’ve never been loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say, about how you spent your dash?

-Linda Ellis

Additional articles about making meaningful choices:

How to Make More Meaningful Choices this Year

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15 thoughts on “3 Ways to Make More Meaningful Choices this Year”

  1. I love choosing a word for the year! I feel as if it gives my year a sense of direction. This year I chose the word “Lagom” which means “just right”, “optimal”, “balanced”.

  2. This is a great post and very thought provoking. I find it hard to choose just one word, but I want to choose several. So much to think about for the upcoming year!

  3. Great post! I definitely can see how replacing something with a new purpose can very beneficial. It’s that we always want what we can’t have human battle. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I love these thoughts. That de Angelis quote is wonderful. (I tweeted it.) 🙂 I have always struggled with New Year’s Resolutions–I find things that I want to change more than just once a year (and not necessarily in January), it’s easy to feel like a failure if you don’t achieve your goals, etc. However, I’ve lately embraced the idea of a word for the year. Last year, my word only “lasted” a couple of months, but it was something I really needed to focus on for those two months. This year, my word is something I want to actually spend the whole year doing. I really love the idea of not focusing on lack or scarcity. I think that’s a game-changer.

  5. I have always loved The Dash poem! I hope that as I make choices this year, I face each challenge head on, but with a mindset for those around me and the awareness that my choices have far deeper reach than just the space around me at the moment.

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