Happy New Year, Reader Friends. As you read this, we are one week into January. Right into the thick of the societal and social media onslaught of self-improvement posts, memes and messages. “New Year, New You,” “Make 2018 your best year yet” and all that. Can you feel my eyes rolling? Can you hear me sigh?
I will say off the top that I’ve never been much of a resolution maker. Making resolutions to me seems a bit passive. I’ve always seen “resolving” to do something as kind of a wish, a hope, or a prayer. Something you’d like to happen or do, without an action plan. And we all know how those usually work out…
I have though, in the past, been a New Year’s goal setter. It goes back to my childhood, where my mom
made, um, I mean, encouraged our family to sit down every new year and write out our goals (complete with computer-printed sheets to do so). So I come by it honestly. And I think that goal setting is a great, life enriching activity, not just to start the year but for the whole year through (provided you have both accountability and an action plan to boost your chances of success).
As late December rolled around, in the midst of all the holiday fun (and craziness), as I typically do, I devoted some thinking and prayer time to goals for the new year ahead. And I kept coming up short. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I saw for myself for 2018.
That got me to thinking about motivation. What had been my motivation in past years? And what is the motivation behind all of the resolution push and social media “inspiration” we see this time of year?
Sadly, I think a lot of it comes from the idea that we need to “fix” ourselves. Something is wrong with us and we need to make a change to improve ourselves, to make ourselves better. We make a resolution (or better still, a goal), set up a plan, give ourselves something to work towards, and think/hope that when we reach that goal we will be “better.” We will be happier, more well-adjusted human beings.
I am using the pronoun “we,” but I am definitely speaking to myself here too. I’ve made goals in the past because there was something “wrong with me,” something that I needed to fix. Even if that thought wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, certainly it was present in my subconscious, influencing my thoughts and motivating my goals.
I’ll use the example of weight, because that’s been a long-time struggle for me and is always a top resolution on everyone’s list, amiright ? For years (and years and years) weight loss was a goal for me. I wanted to change how I looked, what I weighed, to be healthier, to “fix” myself.
Even in the past few years since I’ve been at a healthy weight, I always start January
heavier than I’d like to after a few weeks of hardcore holiday indulgence (and this year was no different- well maybe a little – more on that in a sec). So every January I need to fix what is broken – aka take off the holiday weight. I need to “clean up my diet,” “be more strict,” etc etc until I’m “back on track” (sound familiar?).
I’m coming out of a month where my anxiety struggles boiled to the surface (for a variety of reasons that we don’t need to go into here). But one thing that I was super duper anxious about was my weight. I was freaking out about weight I had already gained, was about to gain, and my ever-present fear of “getting fat again.”
Two wise friends (in separate conversations) both advised me I needed to ditch the scale. The idea terrified me in many ways (see above fear of being fat), but I was not in a good place mentally so I felt like I didn’t have anything to lose, so I stashed the scale under my bed, and asked to be held accountable to not weigh myself until at least February.
Guess what? It’s been so freeing and has totally reduced my anxiety! It doesn’t mean I didn’t gain weight over the holidays – I definitely did (being off work for two weeks means mostly leggings. I put on jeans this week and wondered where that muffin top came from – oops). But knowing I don’t have to face a number – which is really just that – a number – has given me a lot less to dread.
Yes, I know I indulged and put on a few pounds. I also know that I am smart and will take them off. But you know what else I know? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. And, even though I’m a bit more squishy through the middle than I was a month ago, I’m still at a healthy (ish) weight. I still look good (in fact, at the height of my “end of holidays and I feel a little jiggly” insecurity, I received compliments from two separate people on how I look. Go figure). And I’m smart. I’ve gained and lost weight in the past – I’ve got this.
I don’t need to cut out major food groups, sacrifice fun, or even the occasional indulgence. I am choosing to cut back on certain things for the month. Not because I “have to,” just because I might have overdone it on a few things (hello sugar and alcohol) and I know I’ll feel better if I take a break for a bit.
…long explanation for my little “example” (are you still with me?). All that to say, I’m not really doing the whole goal thing for 2018 (well, not really, in my typical way). And I think that’s ok. I don’t see it as losing focus, or lacking direction or vision. I see it as accepting who I am and where I’m at right now (and I think that is not a bad person at all).
Having two weeks off to get more sleep/rest can make you realize how tired you’ve been. Thinking ahead to a New Year can make you realize how big the past year was (turning 30! Switching things up at work! Buying your first freaking HOUSE!). I’m still adjusting and catching up to it all. Yes, there are always things I can work on/do/change, but I am questioning the wisdom of adding something new to my plate.
I’ve always been somewhat of a striver/overachiever/go the extra mile type of person. For some reason I feel like I need to try harder, do extra, and bring more to the table. Which has served me well in many ways. But again, there’s that motivation question – why? (Side note: just like it can get annoying when little kids have to ask why about everrrrrrything, although it’s enlightening and teaches you a lot about yourself, it also gets tiring when you examine your motives about everything).
I’m seeing lately that all this extra and striving is just that – extra – meaning it’s often not necessary. Hence the tiredness I mentioned above. So for now, and for 2018, I’m going to try and stop striving, to stop fixing. To quit looking for what’s wrong, and celebrating what’s right. To understand and accept that what’s worked in the past is great – but it might not be what works best in the present.
I don’t need to fix myself (and neither do you). I need to accept and celebrate who I am, calm the heck down, and realize that I am enough. I don’t need to bring more to the table. My only question is…will you join me?
*Asterisk time before I sign off. I don’t think goals are bad. I have my doubts about resolutions (see above). But if you’ve already made/are working towards big goals for 2018 – that’s great! I applaud and support you. As with every other thing I’ve written on here, I can only write for me and where I’m at in this crazy journey called life. You might (actually probably are) be in a totally different place. And that is fine. 100% totally a-ok.
I won’t judge you – you don’t judge me. We just both do whatever works for us, mmm, k? I tell you what works for me. You read and feel free to take all or none of it to heart. Use what works for you, and leave the rest.
I only ask you one thing: if you are making goals – why? Is it because you’re awesome and amazing and you think making some changes/starting something/quitting something else could make you even better/help you level up/achieve something you really want? Cool, that’s great! But if it’s because you don’t like yourself and want to “fix” something, maybe take a step back. We are all too awesome to go into 2018 by beating ourselves up. Let’s celebrate that, and then maybe 2018 really will be our best year yet (no need for eye rolls).