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  • Sara Johnson

New Year, Same Self

I can’t help but rebel against the hustle and potential of a new year.

In a time when all the animals are hibernating (shout-out to the book Wintering by Katherine May) why do I have to be go-go-go? Does it really make sense to be in high intensity self-actualization mode right now? What if easing into the year was an option? Then what?

My comrade and fellow radical business builder Kari wrote in her recent newsletter: “What if you approached your new year resolution with the perspective that you are valuable and worthy of belonging exactly as you are right now. What would the resolution look like then?”

She said that we need a “new narrative” about the new year and I agree wholeheartedly.

Each year I pick a word or words/mantra(s) to support me through the year. I think of my word(s) as supportive and energetic, allies and friends. More and more I’ve moved away from resolutions that are seeped in judgment or a mentality of fixing. I’ve moved away from goals and into intentions.

Does this surprise you, given my profession and the vibe of the “self-improvement” space in general?

Here’s the thing: we can seek change while maintaining a belief that we aren't broken.

I coach from the belief: people are not broken and do not need fixing.

It’s actually a cornerstone of Co-Active coaching (where I received my coach training) that “people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole.” Humans have the capacity to tap into their own answers and solve their challenges. It is not the job of a coach to advise, fix or solve. A coach listens, amplifies, reflects back and focuses on the whole person.

I find this to be liberating as a coach! First, that the wisdom of the client is paramount. And further, that even in desiring and moving towards change there can be a foundation of creativity, acceptance and self-love.

I wonder about the impact of inviting in transformation while believing we are already whole, we always belong, we are inherently “good.” 

  • Do we allow more curiosity about what motivates our change?

  • Do we allow more space to consider what is working alongside what isn’t?

  • Do we see ourselves as a primary resource for answers, validation and wisdom? (The coach as a sounding board not source!)

While I’m still working out these thoughts I know that I delight to be in a community of coaches, healers, activists, and change-makers who are inviting in nonbinary thinking and these complicated messy middle areas; favoring acceptance, love and curiosity over pushing transformation from feelings of urgency, scarcity and brokenness.

So much of coaching and life takes place in the powerful, highly emotional, terrifying and thrilling in-between. The “liminal space” – not quite departed from what was and still a ways from what could be. Perhaps a new year represents the most universally agreed upon high-pressure liminal space.

Gentleness in the journey, fellow traveler. As 2024 marches forward, if any part of you is feeling behind or not enough let me be another voice in your corner asserting that – in the potential of the new year and all things – you get to take the time you need to get from here to there. And possibly – what if? – some parts of you are already exactly where they need to be. 

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