Ring the bells that can still ring

At the age of 72, I am so blessed to be still able to work part-time at a Mental Health Care Unit nearby. Not only does this job provide me with stimulation (which I crave in this Covid dominated world), but it also allows me to interact with all the other doctors and therapists in the team. Each of them brings new ideas and suggestions which are truly invigorating.

The therapeutic modality which we follow in this ward is called Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT) – a well-researched and documented therapy especially for disorders where emotional dysregulation causes negative consequences for the patient. The overall goal of the therapy is to give patients a life worth living. The programme is skills-based, and a number of the skills taught can also be invaluable to people who do not fall into the emotional dysregulation category – they are good, simple, down-to-earth life skills that can be used in various situations by a variety of individuals.

The particular skill I would like to share is called Radical Acceptance, which is defined as “complete and total acceptance, from deep within, the facts of reality. It involves acknowledging facts that are true and letting go of the fight with reality” (Linehan).

The above definition sounds obvious, yet for many people, when reality does not accord with their hoped for or expected reality, a huge mental and emotional process is unleashed. This flood of negative thoughts and emotions can be very unsettling and interferes with the individual’s coping capacity. The emotional mind goes into overdrive with intense feelings of disbelief, fear, outrage and anger, to name but a few. The emotional mind then dominates the rational mind. The result is usually poor problem-solving techniques followed by impulsive behaviour (which is generally later regretted) and the ensuing emotions of shame and regret, which add to the emotional turmoil.

To identify whether you have trouble with radical acceptance, monitor your thoughts for a while, and if you catch yourself thinking thoughts like” this shouldn’t happen, this can’t be happening, this is not fair, I don’t deserve this, I don’t believe this” you would, in all likelihood, have problems with radical acceptance. When you are unable to accept what is, all your emotional energy is used to generate more and more inflammatory thoughts and emotions. This type of behaviour will never result in acceptance because all you are doing is fanning the flames instead of trying to douse them. No matter how unpalatable the event that caused your pain, if you don’t allow yourself to accept what is, the pain will persevere and cause prolonged suffering.

To illustrate the above, a song by Leonard Cohen comes to mind (I am an unabashed devotee of his – his poetry is magic). The song is Anthem, and the chorus line is as follows:

This refrain encapsulates for me all the ideas about radical acceptance. Firstly, there is always a chance for a new beginning even though it may not be our ideal – there will always be bells that still can ring even though your preferred one is out of the equation. Secondly, forget the perfect offering because it doesn’t always guarantee the perfect outcome. Thirdly, there is a crack in everything – although perfection is highly desired, it is seldom realised. Lastly, that’s how the light gets in refers to possibilities and a new way of thinking that may not have been possible had the crack not appeared to let the light in.

Radical acceptance is a tool that you can use, not to dull the pain but to prevent long-time suffering because of your inability to say, “So be it. Amen”

Pandemic reflections

In previous years we hosted numerous client events throughout the year. These events provided the perfect opportunity for us all to connect. When lockdown happened, we knew that staying connected with each other was essential, so we planned weekly client Zoom events. These events kept us connected and provided a welcome relief from the monotony of life in lockdown. We asked some of our guest speakers to share their reflections on 2020.

Pippa Shaper and Gabi Louw

The Resilience Talk

As our business, The Resilience Factory, centres around teaching Authentic Resilience, 2020 will be a year we’ll never forget. Never before has the need for authentic resilience been quite so prevalent, and it has been a privilege to take our model, tools and techniques to people around the world. Like so many other businesses, The Resilience Factory had to ‘pivot’ really quickly, and we took our course online the week South Africa went into lockdown in March. Since then, we have taught over 1000 people around the world the secrets to living an Authentically Resilient life – one of thriving, not just surviving – and we are delighted to see so many businesses investing in their teams.

However, the impact will continue to be exponential, and we foresee a long tail of mental health issues as the world continues to change so rapidly. Adaptability, flexibility and the need to embrace impermanence have never been more important than they are now. We so look forward to continuing to develop our work, our learnings and our impact.

Hamilton Wende

Storytelling and Truth

I’m a freelance writer and producer, and the pandemic caught me well prepared financially for the first weeks, but quickly that evaporated as the months of joblessness crept by. It was – as it was for millions of people in our country – frightening, and then, terrifying. There was just nothing on offer for long stretches of time.

My first positive reaction was to embrace the world of technology far more than I had ever done, and reach out via social media to people with whom there was a chance of meaningful connection. This approach yielded some successes quite quickly. The business that grew was small, but at least it provided positive steps in the right direction and kept some money flowing in.

Importantly, I was lucky enough to be able to keep working on my original vision which was to expand my writing, journalism and communication business – and step by step, sometimes with my heart in my throat; I kept that vision alive. Now that severe lockdown has eased, business has picked up again, and I count myself so fortunate to have been able to keep to my own life vision throughout a very scary time. Let’s hope it remains that way going forward – for all of us!

Paula Quinsee

Managing your relationships in Lockdown

There have been many positives and negatives coming about from COVID, but one thing that has stood out for me is that we have realised what is important versus what is valuable. We have had time to reflect on what’s important to us, such as freedom of movement, relationships, family, friends and quality of life. We’ve also realised that we can do without so much stuff (i.e. material things).

Being in lockdown has allowed people and families to do so many things that they have been putting off, procrastinating over, or wanting to do, but never have for various reasons. It’s allowed us to have some downtime, spend quality time together, change our lifestyle and force us to connect in new ways. Perhaps COVID was here to teach us this important lesson that we had been neglecting and taking for granted in so many ways.

Sean Brokensha

The Music Guru

This year has shown me how music, as it always has, shines a light when days are darkest. We’ve witnessed Italians banging their pots on balconies, making music that declares, ‘We are still alive’, a torrent of fine lockdown songs recorded, and ordinary people making, sharing, dancing to, and enjoying the pure truth of music. Witness, comfort, and part of the way back, music will underscore the triumph of the human spirit.

As long as there’s a melody, I’ll not be melancholy.

Kim Potgieter

Dare to Lead

I cannot reflect on the year without feeling immensely grateful. I have been overwhelmed with how our clients have embraced technology, keeping in contact and joining the Chartered Family through numerous online events. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to share my learnings on vulnerability and empathy with our clients, which is the one thing that I believe has helped me through this year.

For me, this year has been about leaning into my vulnerability. It’s comforting to know that it’s ok to feel anxious about uncertainty, that it’s normal to feel afraid, and it’s perfectly natural to give yourself the time to feel these emotions, to really connect with what you’re feeling, instead of fighting or flighting from it. So now, when I feel overwhelmed, I allow myself to experience my sadness, my pain, my frustration or my sense of helplessness. To allow yourself to be vulnerable is to permit yourself to heal from the inside out.

What really stands out for me this year is the abundance of kindness and give-back that I’ve noticed and seen firsthand among our staff and clients – and also friends and family. Empathy sits at the core of this heroism. I have
experienced that by just being present in someone else’s story, really tuning in and listening, without judgement and without jumping in to give advice, establishes true human connection.

And finally, I am surprised by how much I was able to save this year. I rediscovered the joy of home-cooking and spoiling myself with hot baths, manicures and pedicures. And of course, spending so much time with my family and making new, unforgettable memories.

Dr David Kloeck

Covid-19 and what is really happening on the homefront

As a clinician in the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, this journey has most certainly been a roller-coaster ride. We South Africans were lucky to be spared the devastating effects of a novel disease, dictating the lack of normal pathophysiological mechanisms that patients and healthcare workers in the Northern Hemisphere suffered at the beginning of this pandemic. Our healthcare teams had the advantage of preparing, and undertaking drastic measures in terms of complete lockdowns and states of disaster, in order not to replicate what the north was experiencing.

The telecon calls from our overseas colleagues were heart-wrenching. Being a completely medically-focused member of the community, I perhaps don’t recognise and acknowledge the hardships of what an economic disaster we are in. Still, the light in our tunnel allowed us not to experience the burden of disease our other international colleagues faced. Not making too light of the situation, we were most certainly placed under new and significant stressors and pressures, but the most incredible memory I recall while I write these few words is how the men and women who work at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital rallied together, volunteering and giving more than 150% of their time and effort to look after our main Covid Intensive Care Unit. My junior doctors all have walked out with smiles on their faces and personally said to me that they “loved working in the Covid wards”. My nurses always (and I really mean always) had a smile and a willingness to make a plan. Every day, without fail, the senior nurse asked me if all was okay, and if there was anything she could do to make things better. I appreciated this so much. My wish is for a way to lift these frontline workers, and give them the true recognition they deserve! They are the real South African heroes! It’s been an honour for me to work for the people, with the people!

Lynda Smith

Quiz Night

It has been a year like no other. I am grateful for the technical skills that helped me to convert to working online seamlessly, and at the same time, help many others to learn the skills needed.

Personally, it has been a big year as I have just moved to the Western Cape. These are not easy decisions and should
not be made lightly. The most important thing is that you take yourself with you wherever you go. Make sure you are
content and filled with joy, no matter where you may be.

Finally, going grey, gracefully, during lockdown has been about giving myself permission to be who I am and to celebrate the process.

Stephen Mc Gown

Freedom is an Attitude

For me, 2020 came charging out of the starting blocks, I was fully booked for corporate talks, both locally and internationally. 2020 had very exciting prospects. By the 18th of March I had had 28 talks cancelled. My initial reaction was disappointment, but then over the next five months I was asked to do 35 virtual presentations to companies. I was reminded to be patient and not to waste a day worrying. Focus on what’s important in life, do your best and opportunities will follow.

The winds of change

The August winds have blown away the cobwebs and brought fresh hope and new beginnings. We always look forward to the warmth and joy that summer brings, but this year, with the change of season, the wind was taken out of my sails when Gys, my husband, was diagnosed with a dread disease. While we await results to start the treatment plan, nothing can really prepare you for the emotional strain you experience when someone you love is in pain.

So I did what I do best. I made a list of everything that I am grateful for in my life, here and now. I reflected on the many unexpected blessings in our home during the past six months of lockdown. We reconnected as a family, spent more time together, had many laughs, late-night talks and shared so much joy. Joy is a wonderful emotion. It’s that feeling in your soul that brings complete pleasure and happiness. I am grateful for the many wonderful friends and people in my life who ‘get’ me, support me and embrace my family. But most of all I am grateful that, as a family, we have planned for this eventuality; we have the financial means to see this through and a solid financial strategy for the future.

I have counselled so many clients to plan for the unexpected or the curve balls life throws at you. Life rarely follows a conventional script, and you cannot possibly anticipate and plan for all the What Ifs. But a solid Financial Plan and strategy puts you two steps ahead. Emotional preparedness is something else, and you have to dig deep to find the internal resilience to pull you through.

While I’ve had to adjust my sails to weather this very unexpected storm, I had a Plan – at least financially, and that’s one less thing to worry about. Gys and I have prepared for this, and I am grateful for our emergency fund, adequate medical cover and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that I will be able to support and care for my family. Having a Plan gives you comfort, it helps you cope, and it gives you one less worry.

Planning for the What Ifs does not mean dwelling on the many things that could happen, and getting so lost in the trauma of things you can’t control that you lose your joy for living. Brené Brown says if you cannot tolerate joy, you start dress rehearsing tragedy. It’s not about imagining that something terrible is going to happen. It really is just about planning. And good planning means planning for change. Having a Plan is enough. Draw it up, file it away and access it when you need to.

There are times that you have to make changes to your plan, especially so with unexpected curve balls. I recently met a client who has had to make changes to his Financial Plan to keep his business afloat as a result of Covid-19. We used some of his investments to carry the company and pay staff, and in this already difficult time, his adult daughter needed an unexpected intervention. Her drug addiction came to a head, and she was booked into a rehabilitation clinic. In addition, her hefty debt to drug lords needed to be settled. Sure, my client will have to make some lifestyle changes, but his money was well spent.

Another client lost six months of earnings this year. As a specialist, he was unable to work during the Covid19 lockdown. We took action. He used the lockdown period as a sabbatical, upskilled himself and downsized his practice. Although we’ve made some adjustments to the Financial Plan, the long-term plan is still in place.

What I have learnt from these experiences is that family and relationships are often the true foundation of our joy. They also confirmed the importance of planning. A Plan allows you to adjust your sails and your path with the resources you have. It gives you the time and space to feel your emotions, connect with your grief and be present with the ones you love.

Wishing you plain sailing through this year and the next!


We all wear masks – most of the time. We have been wearing masks even way before the pandemic. And just recently, masks have become a symbol – even a statement. The popularity of this functional item has grown at lightning speed, and the face mask has become the fastest trending fashion item. But who are you behind the mask?

Why you wear a mask says a lot about who you are. Masks have become a symbol of solidarity, of keeping us safe, and most importantly, of protecting others. But it’s also a way to express ourselves. I have seen sequenced masks, beautifully embroidered masks, branded, animal printed, leather and surgical masks. I have seen people with masks matching their outfits, and I am eagerly awaiting the appearance of Christmas inspired masks on the shelves.

The danger of masking up is becoming indifferent and unconcerned about what’s underneath the mask. And I’m not talking about going without make-up, or the fact that you haven’t shaved for a week. I’m concerned about who you are behind your masked armour. It’s a grave situation when you’re so dependent on wearing your armour that you won’t leave home without it. And that’s because, without it, you feel exposed, vulnerable and disconnected.

Perhaps the biggest downside of the masked armour is the disconnection from ourselves and our feelings. There are many reasons why we mask-up, but mostly because it’s easier to disconnect from our true selves and our raw emotions than to open ourselves up to hurt, shame and fear.

How many people do you know that feel trapped in a bad relationship, in a job that doesn’t fulfil them, or in life where they feel undervalued and unloved – but choose to stay rather than facing the reality of their feelings. They have become disconnected from their true selves. How many people feel unhappy, depressed, or insignificant, yet, still choose to ignore what they’re feeling in favour of pretending that their lives are good. This is heightened in times of acute stress, and long-term disconnection makes us feel anxious and insecure.

We start avoiding situations that make us feel fragile and we armour up each day to avoid feeling fearful and uncertain. It makes us feel safe and in control. The dark side of being shellproof is that we lose the ability to feel love, belonging and joy. If you keep looking for reasons to mask-up, you will find them. Brené Brown says “you can’t walk through the world looking for confirmation that you’re not enough, because you will always find it. We don’t negotiate our belonging or self-worth.”

We all need to feel that we belong.

When we allow ourselves to be seen — when we admit our fears or self-doubt, for example — we connect with others and in turn give them permission to be themselves. In sharing our fears and insecurities, we find true relationships. – Brené Brown

So, next time you wear your fabulous mask, make sure that both sides are in balance: your true self and your new look. The moment you acknowledge your true feelings, you can start to work through them, and hone the positive energy of your emotions.

Wishing you the courage to connect with your true emotions and feelings.

Golden-ager discounts – making your money go further

This year has been challenging, and we have all had to tighten the belt to make our money go further. One of the perks of being an older member of society is the wide range of discounts and savings offered.

Property Rates – As a pensioner, you qualify for a rebate on your property rates of between 40% and 100%. Registered property owners who are pensioners may apply for a reduction of rates, subject to certain criteria. Pensioner’s rebate application forms are available from any municipal Customer Service Centre. If one is 70 years of age or older, and the municipal value of your property is not more than R 2.5 million, you can claim a full rebate on your monthly rates. Please check with your municipality to see what discounts you qualify for.

SABC TV licence rebate – If you are over 70 years of age, you can apply for a rebate on your TV licence. People under 70 who are eligible for a government pension or disability grant are also able to apply.

Mango flights – on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, flights come with a 10% discount for over-60s.

AA – The AA offers over 60s a special membership package at a discounted rate. The AA 60+ Advantage roadside cover includes everything you may need, from medical rescue to on-the-road assistance.

Tiger Wheel and Tyre: Pensioner Specials | Tuesdays – In-store discounts on tyres / selected products and services for customers over 60 years old every Tuesday. Preferential discounts on products and services in-store only.

Hertz’s Car Hire – Drivers over 55 can hire a car from Hertz’s ‘A group’ fleet from as little as R200 per day. Rates include theft and damage waivers, airport surcharge, VAT, tourism levy and 200 kilometres free per day.

Clicks – If you are 60 years or older and a ClubCard member, you can opt for Clicks’ ClubCard Seniors’ programme and earn Double Points every Wednesday.

Builders Warehouse – If you are over 60, you get a 10% discount on your purchases every Wednesday.

Spec Savers – If you are over 65, you qualify for a free selected frame to the value of R599 when you purchase an eye test and prescription lenses.

Torga Optical – Pensioners get discounts on Pensioners Packages every day. Packages start from R1200 and include an eye test, frame and lenses.

Makro – For over-60s, 10% off on general goods and 15% off on food items on Tuesdays only.

Pick ‘n Pay – Pick ‘n Pay offers over 60s double smart-shopper points on a Wednesday.

Nu Metro – Nu Metro Cinemas offer pensioner discounts on every day of the week except for Wednesdays, as the Wowza Wednesday Special applies which costs even less than senior prices.

Ster Kinekor – If you join the SK Club, and you are over 60, you can enjoy 25% off movie tickers every day of the week.

SANParks – They give all permanent residents of South Africa, over the age of 60, discounted tariff rates. However, this does not apply on Friday and Saturday nights, nor does it apply over any long weekends.

Tsogo Sun Hotels, which include Southern Sun hotels and resorts, including The Palazzo, Suncoast Towers and Beverly Hills, offer a 50% discount to those who are over the age of 63 on the Best Available Rate of the day, subject to availability.

If you know of any other savings that you have found beneficial, please email us – we would love to add them to our list.

The little farm in Strathaven

When 84-year-old Chartered client, Andrew Stewart booked his annual skiing holiday, something he has done annually since the 1960s, he had no idea that 2020 would be different. After enjoying six blissful days skiing in Leich, Austria, Andrew and his friend Bruno literally caught the last plane out of Zurich.

He arrived back to a world turned upside down and was immediately put in self-quarantine for two weeks. During this time our national lockdown was announced, and it was at this point Andrew began wondering how he could fill the long days ahead. He started by arranging all his books but soon realised that he would need to do something else to occupy his time, so he turned back to his roots – farming.

Andrew had recently sold two plots on his property, and he decided that it was the perfect opportunity to build a hydroponic garden. Every single day from April to June, he spent the day digging in preparation. He also had to learn about hydroponics, so he embraced Zoom and learnt all that he needed to know. He used pieces of his old tennis court to build the structure and set up the irrigation system. When lockdown eased, he enjoyed the help of a bricklayer and welder to complete the structure.

Despite having a sore back, Andrew has found the process extremely rewarding and believes that had it not been for lockdown he wouldn’t be as fit and healthy as he is now. Health is important to Andrew, and he has always lived by the motto: health before wealth and fit to have fun.

While lockdown meant that he couldn’t regularly play squash and tennis and socialise with family and friends, there are many things he is grateful about. He is grateful for his community that has rallied together to help each other. He’s grateful for the WhatsApp groups that have kept the community connected. Mostly though, he is content that he has done his time spent in lockdown justice, he did it his way, and because of that, he has no regrets.

Harnessing the power of When

No matter your age, personal reinvention is possible

If you felt – or are feeling – a dip in your contentment in your 50s or 60s, you are living true to life’s timing.

So says author, Daniel pink, in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Pink does not subscribe to the notion of a midlife crisis. “It’s a myth, not supported by evidence,” he asserts.

What does hold validity, in Pink’s opinion, is the U-shaped Curve of Happiness, the subject of an increasing number of books (notably, The Happiness Curve by Jonathan Rauch), articles and blogs.

Because the fifties are also known as the ‘empty nesting years’, there is a sense of sadness and loss, a dip in the U-shaped curve of happiness. It’s not a drastic dip, says Pink, but it is noticeable. The good news is that reaching a mid-point of a pursuit signals a change – a psychological alarm is sounded.

What is your clarion call saying, at whatever point you find yourself now?

According to Pink, the advantage at this stage is that there is still time to change – to reinvent yourself. If you have always longed to play an instrument, always wanted to impact your community through strategically volunteering your skills and time, if you have long recognised that you have always wanted to teach – now is the time. You have a carte blanche to reinvent yourself, your relationships and your career.

What to do about that purposeless feeling

Pink advocates finding a mentor, the benefits of which are clear. Having someone who has walked the path help you find or shape your own gives you insight and reassurance that you can take the risk, strike out on your own, take the initiative to heal that relationship.

Pink draws on Buffett’s five-twenty-five principle. First, write down your top 25 goals for your life (personally, I prefer the notion of self-improvement to goals, or Twyla Tharp’s Pledge – never reached, always inviting you to the next adventure); second, highlight the top five and focus on those only until you feel you have achieved them.

Third, decide what you need to say ‘Yes’ to, and, equally important, ‘No’ to in order to achieve these Top Five. Take time to determine this – write it down. This will give you the clear vision (2020 vision?) that will cause confusion and muddled thinking to evaporate.

What’s your ‘When’ horizon?

Finally, can you allow yourself time? Not everything needs to happen now. Will you allow yourself imperfection? Change ‘destination’ to ‘journey’ – you are always growing, learning and evolving. Self-acceptance and serenity may hold the secret to the contentment that you seek.

Celebrating a life well lived

Life is unpredictable and sometimes, we experience such immense loss and sadness that it stops us in our tracks and forces us to pause for a little while.

December 2019 was such a time for me. Stew Lithgow, one of the first clients I ever helped transition into RetiremeantTM, passed away, leaving behind his wonderful, courageous wife, Kathy, and three adult children. Stew’s death came as a huge shock as he was tragically killed doing what he loved most, flying his glider in Plettenburg Bay. As a former SAA pilot, one of Stew’s passions was to share his love for flying with people in his new hometown.

I was utterly devastated for Stew’s family at his memorial service. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the plans they had made and everything they still wanted to do together – he was taken too soon. On reflection, I realised two things: Stew and Kathy treasured every moment of their life together, living fully in the moment; and, Stew has left the memory of having lived a full, happy and abundant life.

It was such a privilege to know Stew and I am so grateful for the time we spent together. As a couple, Stew and Kathy were true ambassadors for RetiremeantTM, living with so much meaning and joy – intentionally present and fully engaged in each area of their lives. Stew and Kath made their dream to live in beautiful Plettenburg Bay a reality; they travelled, and spent happy times with good friends, family and their children. It was always clear how much Stew loved Kath, how much they loved each other.

Stew did not merely pass on. His words and his actions passed forward a powerful message to nurture and grow, to make each day count and to live life to the fullest. In this newsletter we share an article written by Stew for Retire Successfully. We will always remember just how high you flew in retirement, Stew! Thank you for sharing your life with us.

I encourage you to prioritise love this year, to seize each day and fill it with laughter, joy and treasured memories.

May 2020 be your year to live life fully,

What a mentor means to you

Stew Lithgow authored an article for the Retire Successfully community on creating a new career of his passion for flying (you can read the article by clicking here).

There is perhaps no greater metaphor for how this wonderful man lived his life – freely flying into the endless blue skies of hope, of dreams, of possibility. And passing on this love of life was part of his purpose also.

This legacy from Stew is captured in the tribute to him posted on the Retire Successfully website by his friend, Sven Heyrowsky:
Rest in peace my friend. Stew passed away in December 2019. Always you will remain my idol as a pilot.

Sven reminds us of the value of surrounding ourselves with those who will help us pilot our lives significantly. His words are reminiscent of Chip Conley’s reflections on the quest for wisdom:

Seeking wisdom is a tricky business.

We think we need all kinds of degrees and certificates, or bells and whistles. Spend a weekend walking on burning coals with Tony Robbins or binge-watch Oprah’s SuperSoul Sundays. Maybe a good Deepak Chopra book has our answers. The truth is, wisdom is much closer. Perhaps right next to us.

Imagine your wisest friend for a few minutes:

  • How do they go about creating a purposeful life?
  • What qualities do you most admire in them?
  • How could you emulate them beginning today?
  • Better yet, when was the last time you reached out and asked them for advice?

Chip Conley, author of ‘Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder

Who are your mentors? Take time to connect with them this week.

See differently to live differently

Have 2020 vision for a fulfilling new year

Yes, I am one of those who makes new year’s resolutions. Who’s with me?

I relish the sense of refreshing and hope that comes with a new year. I feel sure that these ‘self-promises’ reflect our longing to improve, to create a more contented life for ourselves, those we love, and those whose lives we can touch positively. The goal may be to lose those five kilograms (or 10!), sign up for a course of learning, or be a better friend – whatever it is, it sets an expectation of a better year.

I know that many people pooh-pooh this habit, mostly because we so often fail to sustain our resolve. Check your inbox and you’ll find any number of articles suggesting ways to stick to our intentions: create small steps, write it down, form an accountability group.

It seems to me, though, that 2020 lends itself to the notion of fresh vision – and if we want an improved life, a renewed view of ourselves, our relationships and the world can be freeing and empowering.

Change your view

Professor Adam Brandenburger, in a Harvard Business Review article, encourages us to ‘defamiliarise’ our way of seeing – “to stop seeing the world in the familiar way and start seeing it in unfamiliar and generative ways”.

He expands: “When we look at the world, we should not just examine, but examine with a deliberately different perspective. Not just name what is around us, but come up with new names. Not just consider the whole, but break things up (or down) into pieces. These techniques can help us see our way to the new and revolutionary”.

How does this new habit help us create a meaningful life?

Avid birdwatchers, or regular bush trekkers understand Branderburger’s advice: taking that moment to enjoy, not only identify the bird, but admiring its colour, its wing formation, its song, makes that moment beautiful.

Consider those things you take for granted, that are now ‘habituated’ and live in our peripheral vision. This applies to our relationships, work, hobbies, and daily rituals.

He urges us to counter our built-in tendency to habituate, to sink into familiar ways of seeing and experiencing.

“One way in which great artists, entrepreneurs, and creators of all kinds come up with the insights that enable them to change the world is that, very literally, they do not see the way that most of us do. By seeing differently, we can end up seeing what no-one else has yet seen. That is how the future is built,” he concludes.

Your year of seeing differently

So, what will you see differently this year? What needs renaming in your world?

A starting point for me is to change the term “new year’s resolutions” to “steps in making personal progress” – it has a much more active ring to it!

How can you redefine ‘success’ to encourage self-acceptance and gratitude?

I love Arianna Huffington’s thoughts in her book Thrive:

We now know through the latest scientific findings that if we worship money, we’ll never feel truly abundant. If we worship power, recognition and fame, we’ll never feel we have enough. And if we live our lives madly rushing around, trying to find and save time, we’ll always find ourselves living in a time famine, frazzled and stressed.

There’s a collective longing to stop living in the shallows, to stop hurting our health and our relationships by striving so relentlessly after success as the world defines it — and instead tap into the riches, joy and amazing possibilities our lives embody.

Finally, I am recognising that much of the contentment I seek is what I already have; it’s just having the eyes to see it – faith, hope and love. I take the words of Thomas Merton, monk, scholar and social activist. I hope they will serve you also for fresh vision in 2020:

We have what we seek. It is there all the time, and if we slow down and be still, it will make itself known to us.

Kim Forbes is the Writer and a Life Coach at Chartered Wealth Solutions.

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