New Year...Same You!
It’s January. Gyms and yoga studios are full. Juice cleanse sales are skyrocketing. Everyone is buying planners and downloading meditation apps. Here you sit, in sweatpants, on episode 7 of Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” feeling left behind. You scroll through your Instagram feed and see that Susan is on day 4 of her celery drinking habit, and Jennifer has been truly inspired by the show you’ve just binge watched and is #cleansing her home of any and everything that doesn’t bring her overwhelming joy. She’s talking to sweaters and stuff. Great. Well, shit…it’s January 10th and you’ve really missed the boat on the resolution front. Fuck it. You’ll get after 2020 with a vengeance. Just kidding. That’s not what happens. Or maybe it is. But it doesn’t have to.
I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions for myself. I love the idea of it so much; a fresh start, a recharge, a time to push yourself. I also am a sucker for anything even remotely inspirational. Seriously…it’s a problem. It’s the often misguided execution of these resolutions that gets to me. If you’re someone that uses January 1st as a time to start your goals, you’re good babe. I am not judging, but keep reading…maybe I have something to offer you anyway. You never know.
I have always felt like if I want to do something, I do it on my terms; whether it’s January 1st or June 14th; a Monday or a Thursday; doesn't matter. If I’m totally honest here, I’m usually a bit hungover on January 1st, so it’s not necessarily the time for me to feel motivated to do much of anything. I enjoy a few drinks on NYE. Don’t you judge me. I’m living my life over here ok? This year, my husband and I took it upon ourselves to tour the breweries of Chattanooga (yes, that’s plural of the one brewery we could have stuck to) and tried a whole heap of lovely craft beer and solid people watching. Maybe this necessity has bred my attitude of doing what I want when I want. I like a good New Year’s hangover. I like a good New Year’s Eve celebration, and usually, said hangover is a little souvenir from a well executed night of fun. So I’ll take it.
I’ve shared with you in the past that my core value is freedom. This value guides everything I do, and each of the goals I set out to make a reality. Quite possibly, my love of freedom pushes me away from waiting until January 1 to start something, or maybe it’s my inner anarchist fighting the man. Who knows? Either way, I do what I want, ok? You get the gist.
So back to freedom…I focus on that feeling. How do I find a way to bring this feeling into EVERY. SINGLE. DAMN. DAY?? That’s the actual end goal. A huge achievement goal is great, but what if you get hit by a bus, or something major happens in your life that derails you before you achieve this thing? That marathon you wanted to run gets cancelled? Maybe you’ve been saving for a home, and you get transferred to a new city that you don’t want to live in long term? There’s a lot of these little derailers. The idea is to bring your value into every day through small, powerful actions to drive you forward to the larger goal. For example, if you say that running a marathon is your goal, and your core values are sleeping, junk food and Netflix (kidding…these aren’t real values…or are they??), you may have a really shitty time in getting to this goal. Who wants to have a shitty time every single day? How does this move you forward into your dream life? Maybe you should work towards finding a way to get paid for your Netflix binging skills? Just sayin.
For me, some weeks are tougher to find freedom. Mom-ing hard, or expense reports feel like the opposite of freedom for me sometimes, so on weeks that are “mom task” heavy, or I have to photograph every receipt I have gathered over the last month, I make sure to get into my garden every day and get my fingers in the dirt, or take a walk on a call that I would normally take from my desk. Some weeks, I get to travel and explore, or have a flexible schedule that allows me to enjoy my daughter and life in a much freer way. Either way, I have to do it. It’s imperative to bring this feeling into every day for me, or I don’t feel like I’m living a life I love.
I so often hear people say “I want to achieve _________ (insert huge goal) this year”, and when I ask what that looks like for them RIGHT NOW, they stare at me blankly. Well…what if you don’t see tomorrow, or next week. How have you lived your ideal life NOW?
So, back to that marathon goal….do you love the feeling of hitting the pavement in the morning before the world wakes up? Do you love how your body feels when you push it further or faster? Maybe this is the time you find yourself able to just tune in to you every day. Whatever it is, THIS is the goal; this feeling that you love. How do you achieve this feeling every day through smaller actions? The daily practice of feeling this in your body. Maybe that goal carries you to a dreamy destination marathon, or a local race that brings you happiness. Whatever it is, let the process of achieving it be the joy that carries you to these awesome large events. If you actually dread the run, and really feel quite miserable throughout the entire daily process of running, maybe it’s time to get to a spin class or something instead, because training for a full marathon is going to require you to complete that daily practice of running for a whole lot of shitty days for you. Get the idea?
Now is all we have. It’s the only reality. If we continue to hustle towards these achievements that we believe will be the cure-all to our discontent, we will find that we are on an endless highway of “meh”.
I haven’t always believed this. I have written and re-written goals that I thought were for me, designed to challenge and push me to “make me better”. I pushed, strived, and achieved. I was proud of myself for certain accomplishments, but fairly soon after accomplishing them, I felt a resounding feeling of “what now??”, or “hmmmm…is that it?”. I realized after some time that I was writing these goals because I thought I needed to be better. I thought what I had in that moment wasn’t enough. I was doing them because I felt like I needed to somehow be different. “I will eat a Paleo diet” came from a feeling that the jiggle on my butt made me less of a lovely human. Not true. I’m lovely…jiggle and all. So I started to shift this thinking. I made the feeling of my core value drive the train and removed any idea that I needed to improve myself. I shifted to experimentation. I might have a month or two where I experiment with how certain foods make me feel, but I don’t ever come from the space of wanting to be any different than I am.
Guess what? I’m about to ruin the ending of the book for you here…you are already the “better” version of yourself that you hope to achieve from this resolution. You are lovely and beautiful enough already, without improvements. I’m not saying don’t go after things…I for sure believe in pushing yourself. I love to experiment with my body and my brain, challenging it, pushing it to a limit to see what happens…. but none of that is out of the idea that I am somehow flawed or missing something. I’m not, and neither are you. Now, if you don’t like this…throw it out, ok? You do what works for you. But if this resonates with you, take a minute to look at your last few resolutions. Choose to view your goals differently today and see what can happen.