By now, you’re social media feeds have been flooded with holiday wishes and tidings for the new year. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of all things yule.
While I love the holidays, I’m over them. In a big way. Now is the time to focus on the new year and new opportunities. Let’s leave the rest behind, shall we?
Yet even if you declare the holidays officially OVER, you’ll still be bombarded with others’ emphatic declarations about their goals for the new year. You may recognise these proclamations by their official name – New Year Resolutions. They also go by other, lesser known titles, such as “Things That Look Good On Paper But You Won’t Accomplish Anyway” and my personal favorite, “Written Proof of Your Future Failures.”
As you might guess, I’m not a huge fan of resolutions.
That’s not to say I haven’t made a few in my lifetime. I did. Hey, I thought they were mandatory. Then I proceeded to feel bad when I didn’t get to check everything off my “to do” list at the end of the year.
2018 is the year I declare NO MORE!
I’ve decided to try something different this year. Because let’s be honest, self-imposed agony is overrated.
Instead of writing down all the things I’m planning to do in 2018, I’m keeping in mind a few things I won’t be doing. Or at least hopefully won’t be doing. That’s the plan anyway. It feels like a kinder, gentler approach to living life to the fullest.
Measuring myself against others.
There is no worse way to make yourself feel unworthy, unsuccessful and unloveable than by comparing your value against the perceived accomplishments and success of others. Guaranteed.
But here’s the deal. Nobody’s life is how they portray it to the public, especially on social media. We all work hard (consciously or sub-consciously) to craft a certain perception to the world, while hiding those traits and characteristics we deem unappealing. So if you’re doing it (and you are), what leads you to believe everyone else isn’t, too?
And there’s the danger. What you don’t see is that behind the scenes others are facing their own demons. Whether that means they are struggling to make ends meet living paycheck to paycheck, battling an eating disorder to maintain their beach body or fighting against crippling self-doubt, most of us are in the same boat. Life is a struggle in one way or another. Don’t be deceived by the public persona of those you think you know (or, worse, total strangers you only see on IG!), especially when it comes to feeling good or bad about yourself.
This year I will be spending less time browsing my Facebook and Instagram feeds, and more time in quiet reflection. I won’t be wishing I looked more like her or feeling bad that I couldn’t take dream vacations like him.
Instead, I’m going to ask myself if the life I’m living on a daily basis is aligned with my values and personal goals. If the answer is yes, then I’m being damn successful. And I don’t care what that looks like to other people, either. Pretty freeing, actually.
Letting fear stop me from trying new things.
Ok, this is a hard one for me. Whether it is trying a new kiteboarding trick or branching out in a new business direction, I am the queen of self-doubt. Probably because I am a perfectionist and expect to achieve 110% in any situation I try. Way to set yourself up for disappointment, amiright?
I also tend to account for every possibility, avoid risk and play it safe. But life is short and staying in my comfort zone is going to result in zero growth. Which will leave me in the exact same position a year from now. How unfulfilling will that be? After all, I’m not getting any younger, so I need to get on with things!
This year, instead of looking at opportunities and asking “what if I fail?” I am going to ask myself “what if I succeed?” That is a pretty exciting change of perspective.
The follow-up question, of course, is “what is the worst that can happen?” But let’s break that down.
Allow me to use kitesurfing as an analogy, since you gotta go with what you know. If I try a new trick there are only a few finite possibilities. Best case scenario, I land it and feel that fantastic rush only success brings. A damn good feeling, and one I’d like more of on the daily – on and off the water.
Worse case, I crash. Maybe even hard. Maybe I need a boat rescue. Or lose my board. Or hurt myself. While not ideal, none of those outcomes are unsolvable. They just implicate the need for a slight change of plans. But they also both provide an opportunity to learn something along the way. And I can always pick myself back up and try again.
This isn’t to say I’m planning to proceed recklessly into the new year. I’m not. It is just that, after considering and weighing all the options, I’m not going to let the “what if this happens?” question keep me from trying something new. Boo-yah! Bring it on.
Beating myself up about my physical appearance.
Such a thorny topic, personal appearance. I know some people who say they just don’t care, but I don’t believe them. Whether you’re 25, 45 or 65, I’m pretty certain you have some aspect of your physical looks that you’re not 100% happy with. And that you care about it.
I am certainly no different. From the annoying crow’s feet and the crepe-y neck to the extra pounds that magically found their way to my hips in recent years (I’m sure my affection for sugary cocktails and desserts has NOTHING to do with it, right?), getting older is tough. Or at least eye opening. (On the plus side, I’ve developed some serious Photoshopping skills as a result.)
But the thing is, I refuse to dwell on the inevitable any longer. People get older, and with age comes physical changes. Changes you never imagined when you were 20 or 30. Ah, the hubris of youth.
But it is all inevitable, so why fight it? Metabolism slows. Skin wrinkles. Hair turns grey. If you’re lucky, you live long enough to experience it all. And for that you should be grateful, because some don’t receive that gift at all.
Of course, knowing this and accepting this are two very different things. And seeing it as a gift might be a big ask some days. But you cannot let what nature brings you diminish your quality of life with constant worry!
As for me, I will do what I can to live a life that is filled with fitness and health, but that’s it. Well, except for regular appointments with my hair colorist. I mean, let’s not get carried away, ok? But for the rest, as long as I’m taking steps each day to make healthy choices and exercise, then it will be good enough for me.
Of course I won’t give up cocktails and cake…that’s just crazy talk. Life was meant to be enjoyed. But maybe I’ll take a more reasonable approach to each. Well, at least the cake.
And that’s the key, really, isn’t it? To be reasonable and mindful and intentional in every aspect of one’s life. I’m not sure I’ll be 100% successful in following these guidelines every one of the 365 days of 2018. Hell, we’re only three days in and I already downed a bag of candy for breakfast.
But this is one situation where success comes even if you don’t hit 100%. As long as you’re trying, you’re succeeding. So tomorrow, I’ll try again with some oatmeal. After all, I’ve still got 362 days to get this shit right.
Cheers to all of you as you make your way into 2018. And don’t forget to eat a little cake along the way.
I’m a writer living on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Originally from the U.S., I followed my heart to the tropics in 2011 at the wizened age of 43. Since then, I’ve been blogging to inspire and entertain. I love kitesurfing, a good gin & tonic, and corgis.
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