By River Meyer, Director of Organizational Learning and Culture – SelfDesign Learning Foundation
Winter Solstice approaches, followed quickly by what many consider to be the holiday season. Each day now I experience a moment or two of acknowledging that the clock will soon tick us past midnight into yet another new year. ‘Unbelievable,’ I find myself thinking. ‘I’m only now getting used to writing 2017!’
Yet here we all are, and 2018 will be upon us before we know it……. as will that enduring tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. I mentally review some of my good intentions of past holidays — a commitment to daily meditation, learning a new language, becoming more of a gardener — and I can see why I’ve slowly let that version of the tradition slip away with its high failure rate.
It’s been supplanted, though, by something that fits my personal philosophy and my selfdesigning essentials for parenting; it’s what I think of as holding the long goal. It acts as a compass for me, always. It’s something I can do, something I hold as central and try to practice in every interaction with my daughter, even as she journeys through her twenty-first rotation around the sun.
‘Long goal?’ you might ask. ‘What does that even mean?’ A good question indeed, and my simple answer is that it’s a guiding principle shortened to only one noun and a modifier – ‘long goal’ calling up the far horizon of my intention, the place where time stretches out in peace, the territory where things feel in harmony between my child and me.
In the land of the long goal, momentary upsets or daily distractions or even repeating areas of discord with my child recede into insignificance. I may stand in that upsetting zone for a while, feeling all the associated emotions that often show up as frustration or disappointment, but something lifts my gaze, something shakes me loose from my position. It’s as though I’ve been handed a set of binoculars and am being directed to look ‘out there’ at a seemingly distant point. I’m suddenly able to ask myself what it is that I want at the end of the day with my daughter? What is most important to me in regard to my relationship with her?
Such a simple question, really, with such a simple answer. I want joy, peace, and laughter between us. I want the harmony of our relationship to be the thing that matters most. Love is what I want to feel — and it’s what I want her to feel, too.
Can I set down my need to be right or to be seen as the authority? Of course I can. Do I want her eyes to shine when she thinks of me and of our times together? Always. And can I focus on what I want in the long run and let the rest go? Absolutely.
In that moment the long goal envelops all the tiny incidents that can feel so large. It glows like a lantern out ahead of me and it’s all I can see — and I walk toward it. The long goal — it’s the one resolution that unfailingly works for me.