So Christmas Day is past and…we begin the mental slide from silent-night-all-is-calm-all-is-bright, right into weighing and measuring and emotional bookkeeping. Replete with our annual mental house cleaning, time to re-shuffle the deck, making note of memories and regrets and lessons learned, readying for the New Year. Terry Hershey, Sabbath Moment
Some people may not appreciate the accounting process that marks this transitional time, as we end one year and prepare for another. I welcome the opportunity to pause and reflect. With the New Year approaching, I am re-evaluating SEA circle. For years, I’ve been facilitating several groups that help me stay on track. Because certain processes work for me, I gladly spend the time to coordinate in hopes that others may benefit.
Since living in Germany in the late 90’s, I’ve been part of an accountability group. Initially, we called it JOLT—Journey over a Life Time; a name which served as a reminder that how we spend our time is how we spend our life. Of the four in that original group, two of us remain friends. As we moved, new groups formed and members changed. JOLT became SEA circle—a community for Support, Encouragement, and Accountability. SEA was a way to stay connected with friends made during military postings. With current members scattered across the United States and in Australia too (!), we opted to collaborate virtually, since meeting in person on a regular basis was not an option.
But the premise has remained the same. The SEA process helps us remember that time is a finite resource; days pass, never to be repeated. We know that with our heads, but unless we have received a terminal diagnosis or are accompanying someone with a potentially life-limiting disease, it is easy to pretend that life will go on, into the future without end. While we manage to accomplish “have to do’s”; getting to work, taxes paid, gas in the car, food to eat; often “someday” goals get postponed. It’s easy to put off the important when the urgent is banging on the door. How do you spend your time? How do you want to spend your time? How much of a gap is there between ideal and real? Those are questions that we regularly revisit with SEA.
However, the virtual model doesn’t convey the same sense of accountability and urgency as when we met face-to-face. At meetings, we would go around the circle and recount accomplishments from the previous two weeks. As we listed new goals, each group member’s list was recorded. Losing your to-do list didn’t let you off the hook because someone else could remind you of what you said. Just how many times can you repeat a goal, such as organizing a closet without taking the first step? Quite a few, it turns out. But then one of the group members might volunteer to help you with that task, so you could complete and release it. It’s one thing to carry forward tasks for months on a list. It’s a different story to repeatedly recite the litany of unfinished projects in front of your friends.
In addition to SEA, on a yearly basis, some of us also embraced a challenge; the opportunity to focus on a specific goal, perhaps with the intention of making it a habit. Has something been nagging, “I really would like to…” Much can be accomplished when you emphasize that goal for a set number of days. Challenge is about possibilities; choosing one thing to focus on; whether maximizing push-ups, establishing a yoga or writing practice, organizing papers or keeping a gratitude journal.
So, new year, new format. Starting 1 January,
SEA + Challenge = opportunity to excel
Here’s what different. Messages will come on the 1st and the 15th of each month, instead of every other Tuesday. On the first of each month, members can set a challenge goal if they wish OR continue with the SEA to-do list OR both OR neither. As always, it’s up to you how much you participate. And like with exercise: no pain, no gain. Start small; win big. Progress requires commitment. As with many thing, the first step is hardest. For goals’ support, a SEA circle might help you achieve more.
Pause. Pay attention. Appreciate. Celebrate where you’ve been. Focus on where you’re going. Move in the direction of your dreams. The New Year invites us.
© Joan S Grey, 29 DEC 2015