by Orit Ramler Szulik
Rabbi Zalman Blooming called me inviting me to facilitate a conversation with students at a Chabad Shabbat dinner. The topic: setting goals now that Rosh Ha Shanah is around the corner. His call was like the sound of the shofar, a penetrating wake up call! What’s better than a wake up call before the High Holidays?
After I hung up the phone, I realized that I was dormant going through life and didn’t even stop for a minute to savor what the holidays are all about. Yes, I was already planning the meals I need to cook, the clothes I will wear, the greetings I will send, the increased security that unfortunately I hope to encounter in every synagogue, the people I will see that I only see for this occasion, the people who sadly left us that I will miss in services, the schedule for walking my dog while we are in Shul, the rescheduling of clients due to the days I won’t work, the first holidays with my kids away from home… I was thinking about so many things but none of them are really about the core of Rosh Ha Shanah and Yom Kippur.
The Rabbi’s call, just as a call from a life coach, focused me right back on target when he greeted me saying “Shanah Tovah Orit”. The Rabbi’s words brought the apples and honey closer, and provoked the craving for the round sweet challah. Suddenly I understood that it is that time of the year again, when we look deep inside to learn from the year that we are leaving behind, and the time to set goals that will elevate us in so many ways to become better. A better partner, a better mom or dad to someone, a better neighbor, a better family member, a better friend, a better student, a better co-worker, a better citizen and a better (fill in the blanks), mainly a better version of ourselves and a better human being overall.
Cheshbon hanefesh, “an accounting of the soul”, as my husband wisely reminded me when I was telling him about the Rabbi’s call, is what we are invited to do at this time of the year. How do we do it? We start by immersing ourselves in a period of introspection, repentance, and reexamining our priorities – Heaven for life coaches! Today I found myself thinking of where I am and who I am, and setting goals for where and what I want to be a year from now. My general goal is to become “better” – which to me it means a step further towards fulfillment and living a meaningful life. “Better” to me means ways in which I can make the world a better place and bring fulfillment to the people with whom I interact casually and on a more regular basis.
I invite you to join me and savor the spirit of the High Holidays and the gifts they offer, gifts that go way beyond going to Synagogue or the delicious food that we will be eating soon. Reflect on the past year and the place where you are today. Write it down. Be honest with yourself. Dream big dreams for yourself. Visualize where you want to be and what you want to be. Expect the best out of you. Make a plan with small steps, one at a time that will help you get there. Be accountable to yourself, it’s up to you!
My gift to you is a guide of questions that can help you get started with your introspection process. Questions always open doors, and the answers always enlighten.
1) What’s important: – What’s important to you in life? –What’s the gap between what you are doing and what you love? – How can you narrow the gap? What is working well in your life now? – What are you living out of your life? – Why do you think that’s the case? – What are you putting up with? – What opportunities did you take up? -Missed? – What are the lessons learned? – How do you want to be remembered in life?
2) Life Balance: – Where are you out of balance? – If you could do one thing to put balance in your life, what would that be? – What would you like to have more time to do? – How are you taking care of your body, soul & mind? Is there anything missing?
3) Relationships/community: – What kind of people did you surround yourself with? – Who contributed to your life? – How? – What, if anything, would you change about your circle of friends/relationships? – Is there a community that is missing in your life? – What was your contribution to your community and your family? – How well did you listen to people? – Who do you have unfinished business with?
4) Change: – What changes are you going through now? -What changes do you want to make? – What do you believe will happen if you make those changes? – What needs to change for you to make those changes? – Are you resisting changes? – Is there another way? – How?
5) Career/Business: – What fulfilled you in your career/business? – What’s your vision in your career/business? – Do you have the right resources? –How can you get them? – How can you get from here to there?
6) Moving forward: – What would you repeat from last year? – What would you do different? – What moving forward looks like to you? – What’s stopping you? –What’s beyond that obstacle? – What will support you in your next steps? – What do you need and how you can get it to move you forward? – What will it take for you to start anew, with a fresh perspective?
Rosh Ha Shanah and coaching go hand in hand, and every coaching conversation connects us with what’s important and helps us practice introspection. Now is the time to set priorities, as well as clear and measurable goals. Find a strategy that will work for you and go for it learning from the “obstacles” that are part of life and moving forward remembering that you are not alone, there are many resources available.
Shanah Tovah Umetukah! May you have a good and sweet year, a year of constant introspection, rich in questions and answers, a year of personal growth, good health and fulfillment. Yes, it is so much more than the apples and honey!