Ditch the Resolutions – Just Show Up

Forget resolutions - just show up

Made to be Broken

It’s January, and we all know what that means: resolution time.  With a January 5 birthday, I feel double the pressure to take stock and make detailed plans for the year.

Like most Americans, by mid-February I’ve not only stopped following my resolutions, I’ve also completely forgotten what they even were.

At this point in my life, I’m happy I remember to put on pants before I leave the house – so how the hell am I going to remember that 10-point self-improvement plan I was so gung-ho about during that dripping-with-promise-and-sobriety first week of January?

Enter 2014.  No goals list.  No plan.  Nothing.  I didn’t even bust out my journal.

This year, all I want to do is show up.

Where I’ve Been

In my mindfulness and energy practice, I’ve become acutely aware of how often I am missing-in-action.

Forget resolutions - just show up

Photo Credit: Extra Medium (Creative Commons)

Before you send a search party, I’m physically present, but frequently little else.  Instead, I’ve been preoccupied with my overactive mind and unengaged with whomever and whatever was right in front of me.

I’ve acted entitled.  Been unprepared.  Passively waited for other people to get things going and pick up the slack.

I’ve had a bad attitude and crappy energy.  Made it clear I never wanted to be there in the first place.  Expected the worst and barely tolerated the meantime.

I am hardly alone.

I’ve been in full-capacity rooms where not a single person actually showed up.

What a waste.

Reality Check

We are all 100% responsible for the energy we bring to each and every situation.

It doesn’t matter what you think of the event, people, or circumstances.  It also doesn’t matter what anyone else does (or doesn’t) think, feel, or do.

You decide every single moment how YOU will show up.  (So do I.)

When we don’t truly show up, we mostly hurt ourselves.

You may not be consciously aware of this or willing to admit it.  Doesn’t matter.

You let yourself down (and likely others as well) because you are better than that.

When you zombie, distract, or grudge your way through a moment, it’s gone.  Forever.

forget resolutions - just show up

Photo Credit: Krissy Mayhew (Creative Commons)

Those moments all add up to something called… your life.

Why Are We Here?

I don’t think anyone’s deepest desire is to be mediocre and just get by.

In our heart of hearts, we all want to make a difference, whether on a big or small scale.

We all want to love and be loved, to explore, discover, connect, create, solve, help, learn, and grow.

We all want our lives to mean something, and many of us hope to leave the world even just a little better than we found it.

Sometimes our egos get stuck in the muck, and we forget.

Showing Up Is a Choice

Thankfully, we can refocus by simply remembering that how you show up is a choice.   As Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.”

Choose to show up.

Change your circumstances – or change your attitude.  Either one works.

If you don’t like your job, partner, or friend, find another.

If you choose to stay in your job, make it one you’re proud of.  Put on your big-girl or –boy pants and get to work, regardless of how anyone else decides to behave.  (That’s what being professional means.)

If you choose to be in a relationship, then truly relate.  Being alone is often far less lonely than being ‘with’ someone who isn’t even there.  Connect, engage, and deepen your relationships so they nourish both of you.

Just Do It

If you make showing up a regular practice, it will gradually become unconscious habit.  Track what happens so you appreciate what you’re doing – both for yourself and others.

Since showing up can only happen in the Now, take some deep breaths and be present as much as you possibly can.

forget resolutions - just show up

Photo Credit: La Cinnamon (Creative Commons)

Get centered before a conversation, meeting, or other interaction.  It only takes a few seconds – and can make a huge difference.

Check your energy, thoughts, and emotions in advance – and take care of your own stuff before you enter the room, or it’ll come out in ways you may regret.  If you can’t shift, manage, or leave it behind, don’t go in.

Set an intention both to stay present and for a good outcome (and then let go of expectations since you can’t control the outcome).

Send peace and happiness to those present, whether you like them or not.  It’s amazing how much different the experience is when you do.

Actively listen, without an agenda.  Be curious.  Honest.  Authentic.

Adopt a constructive, collaborative stance.

Constantly monitor to ensure you stay engaged, and gently bring yourself back when you stray.

Observe how others react.

Acknowledge your shortcomings and commit to working on them.

Remember that everyone else is responsible for him/herself – but that you can set the tone and lead by example.  Often, one person showing up well transforms an entire group dynamic.

Perhaps most important, when you forget – when all this flies out the window in an instant – be kind to yourself, forgive, and get right back to it.  Over.  And over.  And over.

The poet Mary Oliver asks, “What is it you intend to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Forget resolutions - just show up

Photo Credit: One Way Stock (Creative Commons)

A meaningful life is less about what you do than how you do it.

You can start by truly showing up.

From there, the possibilities are endless.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

12 Responses to “Ditch the Resolutions – Just Show Up”

  1. Melissa Maris January 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Did you write this post for me? I think you did. I’m notorious for showing up to things with an agenda, rather than doing my energetic pre-work and entering the situation or conversation clean. Thanks for the reminder! I may share this on FB it’s such good stuff! :)

    • Mary Beth Leisen, Ph.D. January 16, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      Thank you! Yes, it’s hard not to come in with an agenda. I’ve been particularly sensitized to this lately having done some consulting again. I could see it in both myself and my colleagues – before the conference call would even start, we all had beliefs about what the clients would or wouldn’t do. I caught myself doing it and took more than a few deep breaths, reminding myself to be open – and prepared to be surprised. It helped a lot in terms of how I showed up, that’s for sure. And I think that stuff can be contagious…. 😀

  2. Terry Gotham January 24, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    Calm is truly contagious. I’ve seen the serene calm the panic in amazing ways. Thank you for the reminder to breathe :)

    • Mary Beth Leisen, Ph.D. January 28, 2014 at 7:54 am #

      It is contagious! I was just in a meeting the other day, and everyone was very stressed out. I felt myself start to get caught up in it – and then I stopped. I looked around and asked everyone to pause a minute and just take a few deep breaths together. We did, and the energy shifted. We still had the deadline and the issue to solve, but everyone calmed down quite a lot and did it more effectively.

  3. Kendra January 25, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    Thank you – this is something I have decided that I really must work on this year. And yes…I need to breathe much more often!

    • Mary Beth Leisen, Ph.D. January 28, 2014 at 7:52 am #

      Breathing more is a fantastic way to do it! (And just reading your comment reminded me to take some deep ones, so thank you!)

  4. julie January 26, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    Great post — I love the tactical tips to help you get centered, show up, and be more present. I am always working on it myself. Slow and steady.

    • Mary Beth Leisen, Ph.D. January 28, 2014 at 7:51 am #

      Thanks, Julie! I find I am more likely to do something if I know how to do it. When I’m in those situations, particularly if I get emotionally triggered by something, it helps me to come back to the steps, to know that first and foremost, I have to get centered…

  5. Kate Lindsay January 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Amazing advice. I have been working on showing up for me too these past few months. I have found in the last year that I have taken on a lot and gotten pretty busy. It’s with all really good stuff so the busy part doesn’t bother me, but what I have noticed is that I have started to scan things I should read. I gloss over what I used to commit focus to, and I am the one who is missing out for there is great knowledge in the details. I don’t remember it beginning but now that I have picked it out as happening, I am committing myself to dialing back and digging in. Showing up, and not cheating myself or anyone else. As well intentioned as I was in becoming busy with all good stuff – it hasn’t worked as well as I had naively thought it would.

    • Mary Beth Leisen, Ph.D. January 28, 2014 at 7:48 am #

      Kate, what a great insight! I think that can start very insidiously, so it’s no surprise that you don’t even remember when it began. As someone who ebbs and flows through overcommitment, I have often found myself in a similar situation, where I’m not really showing up for something I truly enjoy – and if I’m not doing it there, I’m certainly not showing up well for things that are not as enjoyable (but still warrant my attention). I also really like your frame of saying that when we don’t show up for ourselves, we’re cheating ourselves. I think there’s another huge piece on showing up that’s all about doing it for oneself – maybe that will be another post. Thanks so much!

  6. Michaela Cristallo January 28, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Love this post Mary! I wrote about a similar post a while back on my blog about the importance of ‘showing up’. You’re right, our resolutions are often well forgotten by February but if we make the simple act of continuing to show up out goal that is all we need. Thanks for sharing your insights on this. Great read!

    • Mary Beth Leisen February 4, 2014 at 7:24 am #

      Thanks, Michaela – I love it that we’re on the same wavelength! Showing up is definitely enough for me these days – if I can do that, the rest will fall into place. :-)

Leave a Reply