Hello, and welcome to 2018! I had a great time with my family here in Bermuda and it has been so wonderful to slow down, relax, and spend some quality time with friends.(and also my couch!)
As I mentioned in this post from last September, my life and my career more closely follow an academic (Aug-July) year than a calendar (Jan-Dec) year, but one can’t help but be swayed by the masses doing their yearly tallies and New Year’s Resolutions. I am a total sucker for a new start of any kind, and also for any and all forms of self-reflection. So, even though I feel as though this holiday time is merely a half-way point, it has been interesting to look at 2017 as a whole and figure out some highlights, as well as how I have grown over the last 12-months (starting with my hips, but that’s due to too many Christmas cookies!). I believe that as we grow as people, it is as important to shed past habits, thoughts and actions and consciously leave them behind, as it is to embrace the shiny newness of an adopted habit/job/family situation, etc. So here are 3 things I am choosing to leave behind with the rest of the 2017 detritus
#1 Being “Too Busy”
One thing I learned this year is that to be “too busy” for something means that I have lost control over my schedule. If I am feeling overwhelmed by what I have on my plate, then that is when I need to take a closer look at how I am spending my time. 2 hours of HGTV? I certainly wasn’t “too busy” for that! I love how it feels to know that I DO have time each day to accomplish what I set out to accomplish, and that I don’t need to schedule EVERYTHING into one day. I can look at my week and spread it out. And think about it–when someone asks you how you’re doing and you say “I’m sooo busy!” What you are trying to convey is “give me credit! I am handling a family, a job, social events, soccer practices, work functions, and a gazillion students! I haven’t sat down to a normal meal in weeks, and therefore, am deserving of your utmost respect and amazement”. Unfortunately, what the other person is actually hearing is: “ I am a disorganized mess who can’t get my shit together. I can barely afford rent so I need to take every single thing that comes along and…..HELP ME!!!!”. And what I’ve found is that once I stopped telling MYSELF that I was “too busy”, I began to feel a lot calmer. I began to feel like I had all the time in the world to do what was important to me. I could call my friends and family members regularly, I had time to stop by the store to pick up ingredients for a nice meal, work on the project I had been thinking up. Mind over matter, folks. If you’re telling yourself you’re too busy, you’ll feel overwhelmed. If you tell yourself you have the time you need, you’ll have the time you need.
#2 Self-imposed Limitations
Here is an interesting exercise: draw a bunch of little boxes and next to each one, write in words that OTHER people would use to describe you. From as basic as “Female” to more specific, like “freelance writer”. Then erase the words that you think OTHER people would ascribe to you, and write in what YOU want those boxes to be. Don’t be afraid to turn “freelance writer” into “novelist” if your heart and soul want to write novels instead of articles. Sometimes we limit what we allow ourselves to do, because we think it doesn’t quite fit with what others expect of us. But really, have you thought to yourself, “Well! She has SOME NERVE, trying to write a novel! Sheesh! Who does she think she is? Hemingway?” Nope, me neither. The sad, painful truth is that Other People are not all that concerned with what we want to do, and they’ll simply go along with whatever you tell the world you are doing. You didn’t sign up for the 10K because you think everyone might laugh at the sworn couch-potato trying to run? Who knows? They might just cheer you on, or ask to join you. You might just be the inspiration they were looking for.
#3 Waiting for Perfection
“I can’t get new headshots done until I hit my goal weight” (Even though I desperately need new headshots done). “I can’t have people over until my place looks perfect.” Or, my favorite, “I can’t publish this article until I feel that I have achieved the most epic writing skills”. Do any of these things sound familiar? While I DO think it is important to strive for perfection in all things, I am also fairly certain that no one comes close to perfection without a healthy bit of trial and error. The more one does a thing, the more one learns what works, what doesn’t, etc. And that knowledge is what makes it better. So, by all means, work hard, stay up late to make something as great as you possibly can (that day) and then just PUT IT OUT THERE, and know that the next one will be even better. Growing up, the beautiful Persian rug in our living room had a bit of the pattern that was obviously off kilter—it was a good 1-2 inches higher than the others. I knew it was a high quality and rather expensive piece, and so I asked my dad why they hadn’t just fixed it. “Ah” he said, “They do that on purpose. Every rug has a mistake in it, because only God can be perfect–we humans have no right to even try.” I’m not a particularly religious person, but this has stuck with me all these years. Waiting until you’re perfect will only mean a lifetime of waiting. But if you’re willing to just try, learn, improve, and try again? Well, you’ve got yourself a lifetime of growth, experience, and the knowledge that you are doing your best.