2020 taught us that oftentimes things do not go as we planned. Although I don’t like when well-intentioned plans are interrupted, I have come to appreciate that good results still can happen.
“To be tested is good. The challenged life may be the best therapist.”
– Gail Sheehy, author
My belief that I could control everything was not only a huge misconception, but a recipe for self-judgment and self-criticism. But I learned that when the unexpected happened, things came together just as they were supposed to. It’s the learning, the adjusting and the redirecting that are the gifts we were supposed to receive – and then give to ourselves in the process.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
– Viktor E. Frankl
Looking Back Over A Tumultuous Year – and Moving Forward
To begin the New Year, ask yourself these questions:
#1: What did I learn this past year?
How did I evolve? What do I have to celebrate? What did I learn about myself, my family, the world and about life? Who was I last year? What did I value and how did I spend my time throughout the year? In what ways will I evolve this year?
#2: What are the things I miss – and the things I don’t?
My husband and I miss our friends and the gatherings and celebration that come with the holiday season. I am grieving the loss of those things, among others.
I do not miss the pressure that can come with the holiday season. This does not mean we won’t do these things going forward, but it does mean carefully looking at what we want and how we can accomplish it within the outline of what matters is an important consideration going forward.
#3: Do I accept people and things for who and what they are?
The past year created an opportunity to realize we cannot control people or circumstances. When we continue to struggle and work to change the circumstances and the people in our lives, we learn one thing: it doesn’t work.
Why do we believe that it’s acceptable to make people act differently or to be a different person than who they are? We need to stop doing it because we become powerless. We give away our power to the people and things that we cannot control.
“It’s not about changing “them,” it’s about healing YOU.”
– Shannon Tanner
In the past, my list of goals included improving relationships with certain people. Instead, this year I know that I can love them for who they are – and our relationship is already improved.
#4: How do I want to spend my time?
For me, it’s time spent on experiences, fulfillment and purpose that matters.
Professor and author Brené Brown wrote candidly about exhaustion:
“I’m SOOO busy”, “Things are crazy right now”, “I’m so tired”.
Busy-ness became our status symbol.
Brown noted that self-worth is tied to net worth – we base our worthiness on our level of productivity. We convince ourselves playing is a waste of precious time, even telling ourselves that sleep is a grievous waste of time. We bring this upon ourselves, thinking we must keep up with EVERYTHING.
In 2019, we were an exhausted society. The pandemic of 2020, however, pulled many of us off that track. We were forced to learn new ways of recreational time, new ways to work, new ways for children to learn – all at the same time. As a result, the things we believed we needed before may be quite different now.
#5 Do I incorporate joy and play into my day?
Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneer researcher on play, wrote that “the opposite of play is not work- the opposite of play is depression.”
Play – which serves no purpose – is fun and as important to our health as what we eat and how much we sleep. Brown discovered that play is just not for fun, it is intricately involved with intelligence and our development as humans.
“Play is like fertilizer for brain growth. It’s crazy not to use it.”-Stuart Brown
As the world is consumed by COVID vaccines, Dr. Brown suggests “Play Vaccinations,” because taking a dedicated dose of play has limitless benefits for mind and body.
I can surely attest to that! One week prior to the COVID lockdown, we committed to a new puppy. The puppy brought the best out in each of us in our household and we experienced play and true joy.
Exhaustion is Not A Badge of Honor
We must ask ourselves: is what we are doing in line with the goals we set forth to accomplish for ourselves?
Will buying something new line up with what really adds to our lives? Is saying ‘yes’ bringing us joy – or another obligation? Will this decision lead us back on the fast track that we left, or is it in line with the new goals we have consciously chosen for our lives going forward?
Also, we must ask ourselves:
- Is a decision coming from a place where we are not feeling like we are good enough if we don’t do it?
- Are we doing it to keep up with the status symbols?
- Or can we make the choice from a place of knowing we are already enough, that busy-ness is not a status symbol?
Productivity does not define our worth. Exhaustion is not a badge of honor.
What do you want to give your time to and what do you value going into this new year?
Some things I don’t want to “go back to normal” – since I’m not sure that everything that was considered normal was necessarily good.
I bet you can relate to that!
See how I can help you strive to become the best version of you – visit my brand-new website today!