I’ve joined lots of people in declaring 2023 to be a year of abundance for me and my family. Of course we all know there’s more to achieving results than catchy affirmations, or even solemn ones. But what DOES factor into it?

Ideas help. Plans help even more. But nothing covers it all.

Part of any success certainly may be visualizing what you’re aiming at in the first place. You’re always more likely to reach clear, measurable goals than amorphous “maybe someday” measures. And knowing what you want can help you maximize your impact when you reach certain forks in the road. Priorities make a LOT of decisions easier, as long as you understand them (and yourself).

Another part is the factor of luck, or chance, or the Divine Plan, or whatever you call the path you’re on. Be deliberate with your actions, yes. But understand that you simply cannot control everything. Accept that, and you can apply your energy where it will do you the most good.

If I can’t do it alone, can it really be done at all?

I’ve long said that no one achieves professional success in a vacuum. No one can build a great, worldly triumph without involving other people somehow. Personal success in your heart? Absolutely within your control; in fact, it’s one of the few things that really is. But outer success? That takes cooperation if you want it to last.

In case you’re wondering, I’m talking about infrastructure. Not the political buzzword; the real roads, libraries, internet, power grids, water services, personal networks, and so much more that allow our country to run at all.

Everyone uses some of that when they “make something of themselves” in the USA, and probably in many more places, too. Shipping magnates use the roads, rails, planes, and cargo ships to amass their fortunes. Tech inventors often build on the research that was completed before they joined the field. Plenty of medical advances are built the same way. Skilled-trade workers literally learn from other professionals on the job. Cooperate, and achieve so much more!

Getting back to the theme

But where does this leave us with abundance as a goal, a principle, a benchmark?

For some people, a feeling of abundance might be an amount in the bank, an upgraded home, a debt relieved, a relationship reaffirmed, or something else. And all of these are fine!

For me, it’s less of a number and more of a perspective. Disappointed? I’ll explain briefly and then make my final point on this.

We quit drinking alcohol recently, primarily for health, but look at the money we’re saving each month now, too! Duplicate subscriptions to something before we got married? We don’t need both of those if we watch, shop, or read together instead of separately. Those are just obvious items, but we have some control over those choices, and the subsequent effect on our budgets and our health is encouraging.

But what about…?

There are many things that we cannot control at all, though. And what do you do about those factors? Maybe this part of it comes from keeping patience while you work on smaller steps to a larger goal, or even “just” incremental improvements, which do add up. Small moves over time can yield seismic shifts in your life.

Had a great visit with some long-lost friends and want to connect again next year? Estimate the cost and start saving now! Every paycheck, you can drop a predetermined amount into your savings (even if it was empty before), and by the time your trip comes around, you can pay for it without wondering how. In the meantime, if a true emergency arises, you still have your savings at hand, just in case.

Know that you’ll pay off that loan in time, but you’re struggling with when and how? Breathe, work, and find something to focus on while you head for that completion and the relief you will feel when you do. Waiting is a struggle for so many of us, and capitalism is all about NOW.

If you are fortunate enough to have sufficient food, a roof over your head, and a safe place to sleep regularly, your basic needs may be covered, but it’s all too easy to focus on a debt you may still carry, or any perceived lack in your life.

Worrying over those things that are missing, or that feel too close for comfort, can leave you in the grip of a powerful anxiety that has real health effects.

A small but mighty tool

The only method I’ve found so far that relaxes that grip is to deliberately put your attention on something else. This can take time to learn and practice to master. It’s also not a surefire solution to everything, and it’s not even the RIGHT answer to every worry – sometimes, we need to solve problems urgently, and we have to keep them close to us until we do.

But a carefully-chosen distraction can give you a reprieve from distress and can reopen the space for your creativity to emerge. That can even lead to solutions you weren’t consciously seeking.

If you can focus on something for which you’re grateful, you can even free yourself from the physiological effects of distress. Neuroscientists and psychologists agree that the human mind cannot remain focused on two contradictory emotions at once. Fear and anger cannot remain when you purposefully choose to feel true gratitude. Yes, I’ve tried this one, and it works, too!

Should gratitude prove elusive in the moment, any suitable distraction will still help. If you have to look at cute cat photos online, or keep something in your pocket that you can physically hold to redirect your thoughts and your emotions, do that. Say a brief prayer, or close your eyes and breathe mindfully for 60 seconds. Get up and do something physical: stretch your muscles, punch a sparring bag, put down your phone and walk around the office, your yard, the block.

If you’re neurodivergent, you’ve probably discovered one or more soothing activities already; find a way to make one of them available wherever you spend most of your time, or ideally anywhere.

Whatever works for you, it can be the key you need whenever you realize that you’re starting to worry, which also may look different for everyone. If you start to spiral, obsess, clench your teeth, hunch your shoulders, roil your stomach, or even just start to breathe too shallowly for good health – that is when you need to distract yourself. If logic and reason cannot promptly break the cycle, change your mental lane completely.

That last principle has helped me for years now. It lets me get out of my own way, which is a big deal, because aren’t we often our own worst critics and our own most dangerous foes?

Helping yourself to advance

This is how I will manifest abundance in 2023. I will do my day job well, bring new ideas to promote growth, and spend my earnings purposefully. I will also renew my focus on a couple of passion projects I had set aside for a time. And by reminding myself to leave space for the unexpected, I will both cultivate my own creativity and better support my family.

Plan where possible, and buffer your schedule as you can. Mind your thoughts, lest others control them for you. Breathe deliberately. Drink water. And accept that you have, at best, limited control over anything in your life. As Mary Schmich wrote (and Baz Luhrmann made even more famous), “Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.”

Will you join me in welcoming abundance this year? What’s on your plate for 2023?

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