This is a guest column by Rabbi Da-vid Rosenthal, from Aish Minnesota.
Talk is cheap.
So is reading.
You can read all the articles on growth in the world, and still not change one iota. So this week, I am suggesting an action plan for anyone who wants it, to help get the ball rolling for Rosh Hashanah preparation.
If you don’t plan on putting anything into practice, you might as well stop reading right now. All this plan needs is 30-60 minutes of time to put into practice.
Cheshbon (self accounting) Appointment
First, plan a time that is convenient for you to have 30-60 minutes of alone time. Put it in your calendar straight away. Don’t assume you will remember. Try to plan a time that will be more conducive to introspection i.e. not at the most hectic time of your day, or a time when many people will be calling on you.
(Take 2 minutes right now, and plan a time, and lock it into your diary)
(If you haven’t done it yet, do it now)
During the interim time before your cheshbon appointment, when you are driving alone, or standing in the elevator, or even in the bathroom, start mulling over the 30,000 foot view of your life. How are you feeling about things in general? Are you happy with where you’re heading? Are there areas in your life that you feel you’re under achieving in?
During your cheshbon appointment, there are many ways to use the time. I prefer writing a letter to myself as a general review of the year (make sure to put a date at the top, it is interesting and useful to look back at previous year’s entries). Major events, major insights, success, failures (I am referring mainly in the area of self growth, but everyone has their own style).
I try cover three areas:
- Between man and man (how am I doing as a husband, how am I doing as an employee, how am I doing as a friend, etc)
- Between man and G-d (how am I developing my relationship with Hashem, etc)
- Between man and himself (how am I growing in my inner world, my level of happiness, wisdom, maturity etc).
You can just jot down random ideas on a page, or you can write an essay – whatever works for you. A key part of this process is to identify areas where you want to grow in the year ahead.
A totally different approach is to write your own obituary 10 years from now. This can be particularly powerful if done seriously. Write what you would want all the different people in your life to say about you. Your achievements, your legacies, your character. If you don’t feel you wrote all you wanted during your allotted appointment, immediately set another time to continue the process.
Finally, you need to decide on concrete steps to implement in the year ahead. Try to limit yourself to 3-5 action steps. They should be small, definable, and cover different areas. For example, someone trying to begin exercising in the year ahead should commit himself to once a week, going for a 15 minute run or bike ride. When you consistently succeed at the low goal, you can increase it incrementally.
Write down the goals, put them in your calendar on the appropriate times (you can put it on repeat). If there is no specific time, try to put it at the beginning of your week as a reminder.
Once you finish this exercise, immediately set a time one month from when you complete writing your action steps, to review how you are doing, and made any alterations you feel are necessary. This process should continue monthly until next Rosh Hashanah. Depending on your success/failure, different tactics may be necessary.
The above outline is designed to be as light as possible, while still being a serious attempt at growth. Obviously, the more you put in, the more you get out.
I am eager to hear your feedback from this plan, feel free to email.
PS – For 5 ways to keep your Rosh Hashanah resolutions, click here.
[Eds. Note: For those who don’t know, Rabbi Da-vid and his wife Rachel just had a baby girl last week. We hear her name is Shira, and she is GORGEOUS. Mazal Tov to their whole family.]
(Photo: Chris Owens)