How to Create

Productive Change

in the New Year

The Peninsula Woman

Jan – Feb 2006


We should do every task for its own sake 
as time and place demand 
and not with an eye to the result.
Then each task turns out well, 
and anything we undertake succeeds.

~The I Ching The Book of Changes Tr. Wilhelm

Every year we celebrate a day that carries many hopes and dreams with it.  

On this day we ask ourselves what we can do to change so we will be able to live better lives.  Usually it involves losing weight, quitting smoking or drinking, or being nicer to family, friends, and even our boss.  It is a day of reflection and redemption, atonement, admission and resolve.  Somehow we came to the agreement that on January 1st we can say a prayer or make a resolution and it shall be done. This day makes us feel good.  This day helps us to believe that all of our bad deeds will be forsaken, forgiven and changed. We can change.  This day holds the promise of renewed commitments to become better and do better. Why do we need days like this?

Clearing the Mental Clutter
Starting over is akin to being born again, wiping the slate clean and creating a feeling inside that we are ok. We need this feeling of clearing out the clutter, erasing the mental garbage and starting anew. There is something very ancient about airing the sheets, cleaning out the closet, or throwing away old newspapers and magazines.  These actions are necessary.

Creating a “Daily” Resolution List
We need New Years Day.  What would we be without the idea that we can start fresh and new each year? Why doesn’t every day feel like January 1st?  Each day I wake up and write down my “Top Five” important things to do.  I know a lot of people who have huge lists with 20-30 items on the list.  I tried this once and realized it is was impossible. Given the myriad of tasks that come up each day unexpectedly I have resolved to my “Top Five” things. If I manage to get three done, I feel good, productive.

Doing vs. Non-doing
We are a society that rewards productivity and is interested in producing results. Why is this?  We are after all, human “beings.” Isn’t it enough to just be and not always be doing? Our society rewards “doing.”  We honor people who have accomplished and have gained recognition. But we also need quiet and solitude and down time.  Non-doing is a new concept in our society.  We are beginning to understand it more through the introduction of Eastern thought that arrived into this country in the mid 60’s.  With meditation practices and Yoga emerging across the country we are recognizing “balance” and our deep inherent need to not do.

What not to do, how to find a balance
Many are finding that in “not doing” much more can get done.  It is a paradox that is fundamental to mastering life.  In order to get things done, at times, we must not do anything. Making time in your day to reflect and renew the commitment to your inner self is as important as the commitment you have made to your outer accomplishments.  It might be hard in the beginning to trust that by not doing, much will be accomplished. Statistics show that people who are unemployed and not feeling productive are likely to be depressed.  Other statistics show that people who are workaholics suffer a similar kind of depression.  How can we find a balance? Many folks dream of retirement and yet, once retired they don’t know what to do with themselves.  The balance is somewhere in between.

A “New” New Years Resolution

So what exactly is a New Years Resolution? For me, it is a balance between the doing and the non-doing. Usually I sit down and rewrite my “to do” list and then I also create a list that is focused on my non-doing items.  So what does non-doing look like? Non-doing is a compliment to doing, and is a necessary action to doing.

My “Top Five” Doing/Non-Doing List
When standing in line at the grocery store or post office do nothing, just breathe.

2) If you are having a conversation with your neighbor, just listen and give them all the time they desire to express themselves.
3) Sitting at a stop light, don’t play with the radio, or look in your mirrors. Enjoy this brief time to relax.
4) Watch the Sun Rise and the Sun Set.  Be it’s witness.
5) When drinking your tea or coffee, just drink your tea or coffee.

Try this.  If you come up with some good ones, please feel free to email them to me.

I am always interested in the myriad ways of non-doing.

My wish is for you to have a wonderful and stress-free, balanced New Year.