"The most important lesson I learned in 2021 is that human beings can reconstruct their narrative with more ease than one might think; we just need to take the time to implement a few simple practices. Often, people in recovery harp on acceptance as the key to emotional health. But it's important not to slide into resignation, expecting life to happen to us (as if we have no power over the outcomes in our life). Pain prompted me to seek out others who achieved the growth I craved – spiritually, physically, and financially. I observed what these spiritual titans were achieving and emulated their daily practices. With a bit of repetition, the changes were remarkable.”
Paul Manley, Executive Vice President & Partner at Driftwood Recovery, tells us why 2021 turned out to be his best year yet, and how we can all implement life-changing strategies to shift our narratives in 2022.
Spend enough time around someone who has a clear sense of who they are, and that infectious energy starts to rub off on you. The stories they tell about themselves and their comfortability with owning their identity have a sort of gravitational pull. The inevitable question becomes unavoidable: “If this person is so confident about who they are, what kind of person am I?”
Paul Manley is just this sort of person. His enthusiasm for self-improvement is magnetic. So, we were surprised to learn that he struggled to discover his sense of purpose in early adulthood. What prompted his shift from pain to progress over the past year? We asked him to share a few practices he established in 2021 that helped him level up to his next stage of spiritual healing:
Five practices that changed my life this past year:
1. Make time to understand what you want. When people set goals, their first mistake is not setting aside time to figure out what they want. It’s essential to be intentional. I’ve found journaling to be a valuable exercise for discovering short and long-term goals. I still set aside time in the morning to write down what aspects of my life I want to improve. Writing down my vision makes it more tangible and gives me a good jumping-off point. If I do not understand the desired outcome, I cannot create the road map to achieve my goal.
2. Make your vision clear. Once I determine what I want, I write my vision down in the form of an extremely specific intention statement. The vision statement helps me create a story of who I am that I can turn back to; this is the essence of my new narrative. Rather than writing “I want to be a person who….” I write, “I am a person who….” Wanting comes from a place of incompleteness but acting as if makes it so. Establishing this core sense of identity is essential because it reinforces the type of person you want to become.
3. Access your emotions. Ask yourself: How would I feel if I started to check off the goals on my list? Get as specific as possible. It helps me visualize myself taking small steps to accomplish my vision: what my environment looks like, what thoughts I might have about myself, what I’m wearing, etc. When I have difficulty accessing the emotions related to a specific goal, I turn to intentional meditation to access my gratitude for every stage of the journey. Taking that extra time to get quiet and turn inward allows me to feel whole and appreciate every step along the way.
4. Put your intention statement somewhere you can see it. Create a visual cue to accompany your vision you can review every day, multiple times a day. This visual stimulus is critical because what catches your attention creates intention. Placing my intention statement in plain sight allows me to stay grounded in the outcome and not lose sight of the result. Understand that your goals may change along the way; what’s important is the feeling that the intention statement elicits. I hang up words and pictures on my bulletin board that define success for me: adventure, love, leadership, and so on. These are values that I can aspire to every day that make me feel more complete.
5. Remember: structure comes before freedom. Long-term growth does not always produce immediate results. I must establish the routine of acting before starting to feel the benefits. The most effective change comes from repetition. It’s a common misconception that structure and routine are the antitheses of freedom. In reality, structure begets freedom. When every action comes from genuine intention, you create meaning in the mundane and free yourself from practices that no longer serve you. I have also found that when I am consistent with structured spiritual practices, my relationship with time changes. It no longer feels like there are not enough hours in the day. Instead, things start to fall in place with exceptional timing.