I feel so positive about 2014. I believe I learned a few lessons and made a few shifts in 2013 that will allow me (as implied by my message below) to live a little more boldly. I hope you are ready too, to move a little closer to living the life you most want.

And by the way, by ‘boldly’ I don’t necessarily mean we’ll go skydiving, or risk a lot of money in new ventures, or anything conventionally risky like that. I am pointing more to the subtle risks that can actually be much harder to face and that bring us deeper and more lasting happiness. Let me explain.

Custom artwork by Phil Gray

1) Be Kinder to Yourself

True kindness sometimes means softness and sometimes means discipline. For example, allowing myself to sleep a little more could be the most loving thing I can do for myself, or getting up earlier to exercise or meditate might be even more nourishing.

Whether we need to be more tender or more fierce with ourselves, the words we use to set the change in motion are very important. We are human, far from perfect and no matter how we do or don’t live up to our own expectations, we can support ourselves best by speaking and thinking kindly and lovingly to ourselves. By speaking kindly to yourself, all your conscious choices become the healthiest ones.

Much of the cruelty we inflict upon ourselves is habitual and unconscious. So a good place to start is simply by paying closer attention to how you treat yourself.

It can be tricky to distinguish when we are being kind to ourselves versus when we are merely following what others want us to do. For example, should I attend late-night conference calls five times a week because that’s what my boss expects of me? Or is it in fact the best way to achieve my goals and get what I want? That’s when the second item becomes important.

2) Be Truer to Yourself

How fully do you express your greatest gifts in your work and in your relationships? How often do you feel pressured, stressed or bored? How frequently do you hold back from acting on what you believe is for the best? Of course we never arrive at 100% healthy engagement (except for temporary plateaus). So there is always a way we can develop to be more fully our best selves.

Being true to yourself requires first of all knowing yourself. Even this first step can take some boldness, since we fear to know the parts of ourselves of which we are ashamed. Kindness helps. We are human.

Our communication and relationships skills also often limit our ability to be true. Those who habitually speak too bluntly tend to either turn people off or else avoid speaking of things that will cause upset. Likewise those who are too soft-spoken or diplomatic have difficulty standing up for what they want. Developing your communication style to be more balanced and effective takes some boldness.

Making a shift to be truer to yourself may mean changes in your work or in your relationships, and that can feel risky. And the choices you make may not be the best ones. But the only way to find out is to actually do something about it. If you move boldly (and consciously) in the wrong direction, you will find out fairly quickly and be able to correct your course. But if you stay timid and do nothing, nothing changes and nothing is learned.

This year I’m calling for myself (and you) to move. Let’s stop staying stuck in at least some of the vast multitude of ways that we are dysfunctional (the banking system, environmental protection and consumerism, corrupt democracy to name a few!) and let’s make the changes where it counts most: with ourselves.

Be a Kinder and Truer Participant in the World

As you boldly become kinder and truer to yourself, you naturally and without any change or effort influence others around you to do the same. And since we all, at the core, want the best for the world (starting with ourselves, of course), being a stronger supporter of yourself is the best way to influence the whole. Your example is your most powerful tool for change.

Happy New Year!

Credit: Custom Artwork by Phil Gray

Angela Spaxman
Angela Spaxman
Career and Leadership Coach , Loving Your Work
Angela Spaxman is one of Hong Kong’s leading experts in professional coaching. She is a highly effective and experienced executive coach, career coach, corporate facilitator and trainer. Angela’s leadership experiences, her decades of personal development, her well-grounded confidence and her natural curiosity give her great insight into how to manage, motivate and lead people to be at their best.