As the New Year approaches, so does the urge to review our lives and attempt - yet again - to make some improvements. One place to start is with the idea of showing up. How are you planning to show up for yourself next year?
It’s tempting to plunge into the idea of showing up for yourself and to think of showing up as a way for us to individuate ourselves and stand out from others. But that would be a mistake. Contemporary thinking encourages us to focus on our independence; but what about our interdependence? What about the 'we' and the need for collaboration with others as we journey through life.
There are times to be independent and times to be interdependent
Looking at showing up in the context of a total lifespan, independence seems more related to particular stages in life - like early youth and later maturity. As babies, we are totally dependent on our environment to take care of us. As we grow through childhood, we gradually learn, within the context of family and friends, to become independent in certain respects.
Through much of adulthood we are to all intents and purposes, interdependent, either on a group of people in the workplace, for example, or on another adult in the context of a couple relationship. And of course, there are many variations on this theme of interdependence. This means that there is a variety of ways of showing up. No one size fits all.
In practice, we need to live the paradox of being both independent and interdependent and accept that they are not mutually exclusive. We need to show up both as independent sovereign individuals AND as interdependent collaborative beings who together create shared states, projects, events.
Ten useful questions
Being practical, here are ten questions about showing up that you might want to ask yourself now before the old year ends and the new year begins. The first five questions presuppose independence. The next five, interdependence.
1. Who am I? Who do I choose to be? Who do I choose to show up as in my world?
2. What can I change? Life moves on constantly. We can never stay in the same place! We may choose to dig a deeper groove, to dig ourselves into what we currently are; but, Hey, what’s that saying? The difference between a groove and a grave is a matter of depth!
3. What are my priorities? Who and what are most important to me? How would I like to be remembered? What would I like my legacy to be?
4. Given my priorities, are there priorities within the priorities? What are my short-term priorities and what are my medium to longer term priorities? In other words, which of my priorities fall into the ‘Urgent’ short-term category and which into the ‘Important but not Urgent’ longer-term category?
If I had to choose and were only able to pick one thing to set as goal for in each category, what two things would I choose? What goals would I set for these priorities?
5. If I choose these two things, who are the people and what are the resources that would best support me in achieving these goals? How can I go about asking for help from others and finding resources that I can use?
6. Who are we? Are you one half of a friendship? Who do you and your friend choose to show up as when you connect as friends?
7. What can you change, as a partner in these interdependent relationships? Can you embrace shared goals in the friendship? Not so easy! But, like riding a bicycle, you’re either moving ahead or falling off! And it’s always easier to steer a bike that’s already moving. As part of a friendship, how can you move ahead together?
8. As a friend, do you have shared priorities? What do you do together that is both meaningful and enjoyable? What habits could you put in place that would make the friendship stronger and more satisfying for each of you?
9. As a friend, how do you show up in the friendship? How well do you listen to your friends? How well do you stick up for them? How well do you help them meet their needs for support? And to what extent to you allow them to give you support? Are you indeed even open to receiving support?
10. A final question: We may not know what the future holds, but by choosing to show up as independent sovereign beings AND as interdependent collaborative co-creative beings, we claim our part in shaping that future. How will YOU show up? Who will you choose to be in 2019?
The next step
In the next 5 minutes, quickly make a list of how you would like to show up for yourself and your friends in 2019.
Choose one item from the list and make a plan for a small thing you can do make this happen.