What to expect in the Year of the Dog?

New year, new opportunities: What to expect in the Year of the Dog

As featured in Japan Times. Click here for the full, original article.

The life coach

The life coach

While Sarah Furuya’s thoughts on getting the best out of 2018 are among those she offers her clients over the long term, they are likely to be easier to remember during the Year of the Dog.

Her first tip is to practice devotion, a trait our four-legged friends are renowned for. Her second is to be “radically positive,” aiming for what Furuya describes as “tail-wagging goodness.”

The 46-year-old British life coach recommends that everyone chooses a word for the year, followed by a few additional related words and a phrase. Anything that falls outside of that is something we should say no to, in order to be completely devoted to our theme for the year.

She likens the idea to a target, around which are concentric rings according to level of importance or worthiness. Anything in the bullseye or first ring is a “yes,” the second ring might be a “maybe,” while the third ring is probably a “no.” Those ideas or activities outside the target should be considered for 2019 — if at all.

“Time is the only real currency we have,” she says, explaining that there are so many options on offer, particularly in Tokyo. People should therefore decide on their focus and what they want to devote themselves to, and remove the things that don’t contribute to it. The next step is considering who to be devoted to.

“Dogs are pack animals and understand hierarchies,” she says, “so you should know your mentors, cheerleaders, advocates and detractors — who can often help you with due diligence.”

According to Furuya, the focusing process can help “reduce noise” in our lives, while practicing devotion will boost general well-being. By thinking consciously about whether an invitation or activity deserves a “yes” or “no” according to your bigger life picture, she believes the “gray area” of not wanting to do something but doing it regardless starts to disappear.

“People feel scandalous saying no to things so they think of reasons not to do those things in the gray area, making people passive-aggressive and brittle,” she says. “But if you say no to things you are not devoted to, you will get lots of lovely things in life.”

Aside from having more time, benefits include an increase in joy, satisfaction and fulfillment in everyday life, she says, allowing people to say goodbye to the fear of missing out and feelings of obligation.

In her life, she says she is happier, kinder, less tired, more authentic and better off financially thanks to her method. Her clients, too, have reported feelings of excitement at being able to work smarter and enjoy more the things that matter most.

In love, Furuya says that starting to practice devotion will shine a light on what is wrong in a relationship and allow people to address it. Meanwhile, thoughtfully saying “yes” and “no” will make those who are uncoupled more happy, authentic and, therefore, attractive.

“Love yourself and be open and you will attract someone who likes the real you,” she says.

The Year of the Dog is also a time to take stock of your health and well-being, Furuya says. She advises honestly assessing your current situation, including where things are working and not working, and what the first action step could be to lighten or clear your mental load.

With the goal of achieving tail-wagging goodness in 2018, Furuya recommends we ask ourselves a question posed by U.S. physician and coach Sarah Bamford Seidelmann: “How good are you willing to let it get?”

“It’s a really confronting question and means there’s no moaning,” Furuya says. “Sometimes things are hard but when you wake up, you’re really willing to invest in the day. Be positive and open. Every time you have a mean thought, wear low-self-esteem clothes or have negativity, you are taking away from how good you are willing to let it get.”

For those who have experienced a difficult 2017 because of a bereavement or divorce, for example, she says the best to let it get might equate to an “average” 2018. Others who are content, however, might consider “How much magic can I inject to make my joy grow?”

Ultimately, though, Furuya says “will” is the important word in the question. She argues that every person should take 100 percent responsibility for what happens next in their life coaching journey, which begins with the individual.

“The most generous and loving people are not the kind of people who put themselves down,” she says. “Love yourself first and be willing to let your life be really good. Whatever you are willing to give someone, give also to yourself plus alpha. Expect it, ask for it and give it to the people you are devoted to.”

With kindness, loyalty and faithfulness expected to play a key role in the Year of the Dog, it sounds like solid advice.

Sarah Furuyamedia