Let me just say this from the outset. Coming in to a new year, I am loath to write another post asking you to reflect on your 2018 and set goals for 2019. You’ve heard it all before, I know that. Such a blog would likely end up in the pile of other similar blogs from every other well-intentioned blogger you stumble upon or get mail from. Even more likely, it would be immediately deleted and never given a second thought.
Besides, we all know that New Year’s resolutions and the like are so 2017, right?
So I’m sitting here, in my favourite new café around the corner from my new home, wracking my brain for what I will write. I know that I want to reach out to my audience at this time of year. I also know that I want it to be authentic. With any luck, I am hoping that it might be informative or if I’m really lucky, just a little inspiring.
After a bit more thought, I’ve realised that the only thing I can really do is be honest about how things are for me and what my current focus is, because the truth is, A LOT has changed for me in the last 12 months.
So, where to start?
Every year for the last few years, I have chosen a word that I want to focus on for the upcoming year. This has been my compromise to a traditional New Year’s resolution. The word is not a promise to myself to act or do anything in particular at all. Rather, it is a way of me bringing in new energy to my life and staying mindful of what I’d like to focus on. A way of focusing on more of what I do want rather than what I don’t want. With this word, I write it in my diary, on my whiteboard. I might meditate on it or simply talk about it in conversation when it comes up. It is a way for me to remind myself when I am flailing, about what I should be focusing on; something to ground me. I realise that this is not a new or unique concept, but nonetheless it is a strategy that I have found works for me and is easier to hold on to than a resolution.
Last year that word was ‘connection’. I felt at the time that I had lost connection to myself and that I was suffering for it. I knew that I needed to find a way to reconnect to myself and who I really was. I needed to do what I so frequently advised my clients to do, and that was focus on myself. Take responsibility for myself, my life and my feelings; the good, the bad and the ugly. Actually practice self-care and healthy self-talk and most importantly start implementing healthier boundaries in my relationships (once again, the most important relationship being the one I had with myself!).
I won’t lie, it wasn’t a linear process. There were times when I stumbled and fell; really really fell. It was a process, but as they say, ‘progress, not perfection’.
This year, my word was ‘acceptance’. Without realising it, I had set myself up for a big challenge with that one. Whether I knew it consciously or unconsciously, there were so many things that I was fighting in my mind; real or imagined. I wasn’t accepting, I was constantly fighting against my reality. Of course so much of it was fear based, as it is for so many people. I was afraid of everything. Afraid of not being good enough, of loss, of being alone. Afraid of what I could not control or change. Afraid of feeling ‘too much’; of being overwhelmed and drowning.
There got to be a pivotal point when I actually just had to say “fuck it”. I think I had exhausted myself and you can guess where I’d gotten myself. Absolutely nowhere. At which point, I conceded defeat. I threw in the towel, I stepped out of the ring, I surrendered.
But what does it mean to surrender? Did I stop caring?
No. At least not more than momentarily. What I mean is that I looked at all of the things that I was unhappy about and I asked myself; what if this is as good as it gets? What if this never changes? What if what I have right now is all that I am ever going to have and all of this energy that I expend on trying to change it is just wasted energy that I could direct elsewhere? Could I live with my life on a day to day basis, as it is, and survive? Even thrive? Is that possible?
At which point you know what I realised? I realised that it was. I realised that when I stopped trying to change or control things, when I genuinely surrendered and accepted the way things were, they were actually okay and I could make a good life with what I had.
Put in other words; I burst my own bubble of idealism, fantasising about how things 'should' be, and just got real. Accepted life for what it was.
The moment I did this was honestly the moment my life turned around. The moment I gave up the imaginary fight (with myself) was the moment, I believe, I actually allowed a new energy to come in to my life.
12 months later, I have had to accept many things that I did not want to accept. Some of it I was truly dragging myself kicking and screaming. Nonetheless, each and every time I surrendered and accepted, I found that a new door was opened to something even better. I now have a new partner. A person who is so genuinely warm, loving, caring and suited to me that I have to pinch myself to remind myself that this is actually happening. I live in a new home on the other side of the city, practising from a new clinic and networking with a whole new group of business professionals. I’ve joined a new gym and I am making new friends. Embracing a new lifestyle which I’m still playing with and tweaking, but enjoying the possibilities. At every stage of having to surrender and accept, despite the initial growing pains, it turns out that I have exchanged the comfort of what I knew for something even better.
So that has been my lesson for 2018. A lesson that I’m sure I will continue to have to learn. I’m sure that as soon as I think I’ve got that one covered, that some new challenge or change will come up and I will be back to square one and having to go through that learning process all over again, as if I’ve never done it before. I guess that’s just life, unpredictable.
This coming year, I have decided that my new word is ‘clarity’. I’m looking forward to welcoming in a new year with a new energy and a new word. A word which I intend on using to sharpen my mind and sharpen my focus on what is important and what is worth letting go of.
What will your word be?