My brother is leaving for Africa in a few days – Kenya, to be more precise.
This journey, to stay in a remote village, volunteering his expertise with technology and entrepreneurship in an emerging program for school children, is a way of starting the year in a completely new way.
In his day-to-day life, in addition to being my smart, funny, and slightly goofy younger brother, he is a top-level North American food and beverage executive and resort-owner.
It’s time for a change, though, and he decided to shake things up, big-time.
He’s already achieved a number of major life goals in the areas of romance, travel, health, adventure, and business. He is using this trip, basically, as a way to decide what to do with the rest of his life. He’s starting his quest by doing something useful and meaningful.
We had some rare time (that precious gift) over the holidays to talk about his upcoming plans. Key to a new start is deciding what we are taking with us into the future and what we are leaving behind.
My brother asked me if I had any tips for letting go of the old and moving into the new.
Delighted to be asked for advice by a sibling who outgrew the need for it years ago, I referred him to a 2014 blog post, In Search of the Big ‘Aha’: 14 Questions for a Mindful New Year, an introspective process for making sure you don’t throw the New Year’s baby out with the bathwater while weeding through the previous year.
The beauty of this particular post is that the advice stands the test of time. The content is what we call ‘evergreen’, meaning it can be repurposed year after year.
There are no right answers to the questions. They offer a process for deepening insight and awareness so that action is based on meaning.
Much online advice exhorts us to hustle, crush, boss or slay our way into the New Year. My brother already knows how to do those things. So do most of us, wired as we are into a culture that celebrates speed and workaholism.
What we need to practice is reflection, and the patience required for genuine self-discovery.
Transformative, life-changing action comes not from working harder, faster or longer. It comes from moving with purpose. Questions about what worked and what didn’t, what we are proud of and what we regret lead us to discover what is trying to emerge as one year closes and another opens up.
The choices we make based on our responses will be in alignment with who we are becoming.
I encouraged my brother to seek a theme to guide the next part of his quest, and to write a list of all the ‘baggage’ being left behind, offering gratitude for lessons learned and gently releasing the past.
This creates space for new and subtler dreams to emerge and be coaxed into reality.
My brother’s dreams may lie somewhere on the remote outskirts of Nairobi, but they will be found closest to his heart.
Vicki McLeod is an author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a business and personal coach and consultant. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or find her at vickimcleod.com.