I can’t believe 2017 is coming to a close in three short weeks. Where did the time go?
Like most of us regular folks, you’re probably contemplating on what the next three weeks are going to be like. I mean, we’ve got Christmas parties to dress for, foods and wines to enjoy, shopping to do, family to visit. The to-do list seems to grow by the day, when it should be shrinking: homes to clean, fancy dinners to cooks, presents to wrap…
I was thinking this morning as I walked my dog Hobbes, in the fresh, crisp winter air, that all these to-do lists for December must be the reason myself – and likely many others – rush into the New Year with out careful consideration of what this New Year should look and feel like.
I mean, we spend the whole month of December cramming in as much food, visits, hustling and spending as we can. We mingle at Christmas parties. We rush to the mall to buy presents. We go, go, go. Then suddenly Christmas hits. What did I even buy my mom? We might think. Did I forget to put any presents under the tree? I mean, I can’t even remember where I hid them all.
What a blur.
Do we stop and slow down? Many of us, no. Because, of course, there are now toys and Lego to put together, more family to visit, messes to clean up and – of course – massive sales in the malls and online that we hustle, hustle, hustle some more for.
By the time we might catch our breath, it may be one or two days before New Years Eve and we are finalizing the last few details of our nights plans. What should I wear? Who will I kiss? Do I have to go out?
Crazy. Even typing that all out, I feel tired and regretful to the missed moments of December and lost time.
Have we taken more than two seconds for ourselves at all this month? Have we given any deep meaningful thought beyond a quick fix new years resolution like, “lose 10 lbs?” Have we taken anytime to really be grateful with what we have and who we spent time with this over the Christmas season?
It’s quite silly that we expect to carry the crazy hustle and frantic energy of December into the new year, and believe that we would be set up for a strong, new, fresh start.
It’s even more silly that deciding on some new years resolution in a quick five or ten minute contemplation – with an adrenaline dump of motivation – is what we beleive it will take to magically perform the “new year, new me” for the next 365 days.
I don’t know about you but for me, hustling and surviving December doesn’t exactly renew my focus for the New Year. It doesn’t make me feel ready to take on new goals, new challenges and new strategies. It does, however, make me feel exhausted. Like I need a break. And that’s not how I want to enter into new possibilities and new starts. I want to be alive and in it, every moment. Ready to rock.
Here are a few considerations I am working with that I hope you will reflect on too, as you (hopefully) slow down, enjoy the moments you’re already in before sprinting to the next in 2018.
- With all you want to add and become in 2018, what regrets can you let go of, to lighten your load as you walk forward into the new year?
Regrets are hard. But willingly carrying them around is actually a lot harder. We may not think about it as a choice, but any feeling you have – regret included – is an opportunity for choice. Now, it might feel so deep that you’d argue it’s automatic and that you actually can’t help it that you feel that way.
I get that. I have so been there.
But, every time we feel that sting of regret or every time we feel like we have to control and monitor situations in regards to how they “need” to play out, then we must realize we are choosing this, by not choosing something else. We aren’t choosing better for ourselves. And we can do better. We deserve that.
Think about situations you’ve been desperately trying to control… can you let anything go? Maybe it is in trying to control how your ex-husband parents your child. Can you choose to let that weight go as you move into the new year? Can you let them do things different, even if it’s not how you would do it and if it’s not your way?
Perhaps you’ve loved and lost in romance and you’ve been carrying regret or pain with you because of that. Can you choose to consciously begin to start letting that go? Even if as those emotions come up, you simply tell yourself “I let go.” That’s a small powerful first step – one that will make a difference. No one expects a 100% turn around in a 24-hour period. Give yourself time to work through the letting go process, but consciously decide you will not carry it with you anymore.
Where can you find freedom as you move into the New Year… look for it. It’s there. Let it go. When you loosen your hand strength and grip around something, you open your hand (yourself) up to something new, different and better. It’s a new year… let the new come to you in all ways, shapes and forms. You’ve just got to be willing to let go.
- “Tell me who you spend time with and I will tell you who you are.”
This is a tough one for adults. We get so stuck in friendships and relationships and familiarity… that we just stay and accept it, even if it’s not what is best of us.
Let’s look at this.
If you’re a parent (or know someone who is a parent), you probably believe that if your child spends time with a group of kids that don’t want go anywhere or do anything in life, then your child is likely to pick that up and become the same. Your child likely won’t want to strive for much. We become like those who we spend time with.
So, if we understand that about children and do our best to put them into winning social circles and good schools, then why – as adults – do we not still practice and believe this concept?
If you hang around those who tolerate but hate their jobs, relationships or lifestyle then guess what, you will become like that too. You will settle. You will stop looking for bigger and happiness. It will be “just good enough” or “the way that it is.”
It is said you are an average of the five people you spend the most time with. Who are you then? Those five people… their best and worst qualities, averaged out. Who are you? Are you proud of that?
Now might be a good time to begin contemplating this. If you want to become something different, it is likely time to begin to change your social circle. You don’t have to carry with you forward something that you have carried forever, just because it’s familiar. Expand your group.
You can still care about those you’ve cared about, from a distance. You can’t hold back on your life just to stay comfortable with the familiar. Start to look now for different settings you can get yourself into, to set yourself up to be happy in your life.
- What’s working? What’s not? Get a game plan.
In order to change anything in your life, it is important to be clear on what you are or are not. Write down all the things in your life that are working. Maybe what’s working is the kids daycare, the family time you can allot each week or the gym you go to.
Next, write down what isn’t working. Maybe it’s the commute to work, maybe it’s expenses versus income, maybe it’s not having enough YOU time.
When you see these two groups on paper, you can get a clear look at how you are living your life, what stands out as important and any imbalances there are.
If you wrote it on your “not working list,” then you know it’s important to you and that inside your heart, you want a change in regards to that thing.
From here, you can decide on a starting point, and create a game plan to change what isn’t working to either be on the what IS working list or remove it all together. This is when we create a game plan to create change.
The thing with “game plans” is, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to know or have the entire journey mapped out, from step one to finish line. But what you do need to see is a few of the first steps.
Let’s say on your “what isn’t working” list, you wrote down your physical body weight. In other words, being over weight is just not working and you want to lose ten pounds, gain some muscle and be able to ride your bike with your kids with out loosing your breath. Your first few steps could be signing up at the gym and committing to a personal trainer 3 times a week.
That’s the first few steps; the steps that follow will reveal themselves after you have the beginning ones in action. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Baby steps can add up to miles covered. But you’ve got to take that first step to get anywhere new.
* * * *
There are so many things we can do, to run into the new year strong and refreshed and set up for change and success. These are just a few small concepts to consider. Think about them seriously and see if they make sense to you. If something strikes a chord with you or, better yet, if something strikes a nerve in you, look at it. There is something there for you to go deeper into, wherever you felt a reaction or drawn to.
We are about to be blessed with a new year. A new chance, a new starting point. Many people in your country and in your home town don’t get this opportunity. Life ended for them before this month rolled around. Realize that this is your life. There are no guarantees and when it’s done, it’s done. While you’re here, make the most of it. Let go of hurts, pain, controlling and regrets. Let go and soften. Set yourself up for success by reassessing your social circle and the people you spend the most time with. Look at your life and change what isn’t working or serving you to be the best version of yourself.
You’ve got this chance… make it count.
Sending love, hugs and butt slaps…