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While the World is Focused on Outer Celebrations, Go Within

by Bonnie Bell, MA, MDiv., Principal, and Director of Career/Life Coaching

January 2014

As soon as December 26 arrives with a thunk, the world shifts its focus to the New Year. By December 31, of course, all eyes are on the clock to hone in on the final countdown to the minutes and the last ten seconds – one by one – before pandemonium sets in celebrating the arrival of the New Year. Year in, year out, this is ritual, even if you are, in fact, home alone on the couch.

But what does this, or any other entrenched ritual mean, for that matter? A church liturgy, a bar mitzvah, a graduation: what do they really mean, if anything? Any ritual, if performed with a knee jerk, can be utterly meaningless; it can be meaning-FULL, too, depending on the consciousness, intention, and value you or I bring to it.

For me, December – when the outer world is at is darkest and coldest – is the perfect time of year to “reflect and capture” meaning. It seems to happen automatically, right in the midst of things, whether I am Christmas shopping or going to parties or attending concerts or wrapping gifts or sitting in front of the fire, there I am reflecting on the year, on the continuum of my life, the swift passage of time, the stages of life, all of which have me thinking about the big stuff: Life, Death, Meaning, Purpose.

At some point, usually very close to January 1, I actually sit down and apply the four momentum-based questions that underlie Bell Investment Advisors’ approach to investment management, financial planning, and career and life coaching. They are very simple and pragmatic in contrast to the vast, looming, largely unanswerable questions that life keeps asking within us. They are:

  1. What’s working?
  2. What’s not working?
  3. What’s missing? and,
  4. What’s next?

These are the kinds of questions that, when applied to your experience in the year just passing, tend to yield clear, meaningful answers upon which to build positive momentum in the next. The concept, in general, is that you can wise-up if you build on what’s already working, get rid of what’s not working, add what is missing, and develop a plan of action that incorporates your up-to-date “research.” When the clock strikes midnight this year, on a much deeper level than ever, you can acknowledge what worked in 2013, say good-bye to whatever didn’t, welcome whatever good things you are adding to your life, and move forward into the new year with commitment and determination to make these things happen. That is something to genuinely, consciously celebrate!

Bonnie Bell, with husband Jim Bell, CFP®, owns and manages Bell Investment Advisors, 1111 Broadway, Suite 1630, in downtown Oakland. The firm has been providing customized financial planning, investment management, and career/life coaching services since 1991.

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