The year is coming to an end, and it’s that time where we all reflect back on the past year and think about what we want to change or improve upon in the upcoming year.
2018, for me, was a year full of ups and downs, new experiences, and as usual figuring myself out just a little more. This year, I FINALLY got my license and bought my first car, which (even though I’m 24) was a huge accomplishment for me being that driving is something that gives me a lot of anxiety. This year I stayed in my own country yet I still managed to fit in a lot of travel to many different places in the US including Chicago, San Francisco and northern California, Colorado, Florida, and several trips to New York. Although I’m not exactly where I hope to be or expected to be in terms of my job, I’ve been able to have many new work experiences and do a job that I genuinely can say that I enjoy. Working my first postgrad full-time job in the US as a Pre-K teaching assistant, and working in a lot of different part-time jobs including tutoring English as a second language with people in other countries, freelance writing and blogging, and working as a Behavior Technician with children with autism, I’ve enjoyed and learned from each opportunity. I also got to do a volunteer work experience for a few weeks in California in a Buddhist retreat center which was unforgettable and personally meaningful for me. I’ve met a lot of amazing people, built new friendships and relationships, and reconnected with old friends. I’ve been able to see my family continue to grow and change. I’ve been able to continue working on myself and doing the things I’m passionate about. But this year hasn’t all been easy. I’ve certainly had my personal challenges recently and I’ve struggled with my mental health. But right now, I am thinking about all of the things that I have to be grateful for and the people in my life that I am grateful for and I’m thinking about all of the things I have yet to look forward to in the upcoming year.
So as 2019 approaches we’re all contemplating what we want to do better this year, and what we want to change and improve upon. I’m always one who finds myself coming up with lists of aspirations, things I’m going to do better, things I’m going to do more of, things I’m going to accomplish. Especially being that I’ve had a little more time to myself over the holidays and have had some time to clear my head a bit. This time of year is when we get the chance to rethink our lives and make a plan for things we’re going to improve on, or things we’re going to change or make more time for.
“I’m going to start eating healthy again.”
“I’m going to cook more.”
“I’m going to meditate and exercise every day.”
“I’m going to work toward getting a job that I am passionate about.”
Those are just a few of the aspirations that are coming up in my list for the new year. But even thinking those things and saying those things, I am aware that it’s easier said than done and I’m not going to suddenly change and do EVERYTHING I aspire to do and make every single thing on that list become instantly reality.
I know that I’m going to get back into my typical routine, and things aren’t going to go as smoothly or flow freely as the way the plan plays out in my head. As I’m sure many can relate. I’ve had time off work this week and a vacation which gave me some free time to relax and contemplate the things that I want in the upcoming year. But I know, I’m going to go back to work, I’m going to get busy again, and I’m not going to have the time to do every single thing on that list perfectly all of the time. That’s just reality.
Maybe we will start making these adjustments in our lives and have some success in making these changes. But it’s a known fact that the majority of people’s new years resolutions end up failing within the first month. It makes a lot of sense because we expect too much, we expect to see everything suddenly change or we make resolutions that are too big and think that everything is going to fall into place right away. But that’s just not reality. Just because tomorrow is January 1st and we make a goal doesn’t mean things are going to be different all of a sudden. It doesn’t really matter what day of the year it is. We can make goals and plans and dreams for ourselves all the time.
New Years Resolutions are a really amazing thing, and I think that it’s a good feeling to have that fresh start and get the chance to make goals for ourselves and our upcoming year. Sometimes it gets hard because we get so caught up in things so it’s always nice to have that time to rethink things. The problem is when we make these resolutions we need to be aware of our mindset. We need to consider what making these changes is actually going to mean and how we are going to achieve them. “I’m going to exercise and meditate every day” “I’m going to cook more and eat healthy” “I’m going to work toward getting my dream job”. These aspirations are great, but for me I’m also working full-time plus. I know that once I get back to work, I’m going to be tired. I’m going to get busy. I’m not going to have the time, realistically, to go for a run, to do yoga, to meditate, to cook a healthy dinner, AND get all of my other work done… every single day. And maybe sometimes I am going to have time but maybe one night I’m going to decide to get take out and binge watch Netflix instead.
So what I’m trying to say is that we overwhelm ourselves with our aspirations which is why we end up either burning out or giving up at the first fallback. I’m absolutely NOT saying that we shouldn’t make resolutions or goals or aspirations. I think that it’s always amazing to make these kinds of goals for ourselves and to aspire to better ourselves in whatever ways necessary. I know that I constantly am doing that. What I’m trying to say is that in making these goals, we need to be patient with ourselves. We need to realize that making the big changes in our lives is never going to happen overnight. That’s impossible. The big things, the real and important changes, take time. They are all part of a bigger process. Getting in shape, eating healthy, working toward career or relationship goals, learning a new skill, or cultivating your passions, those are big things and those aren’t things that we can expect to be easy. It’s not nearly as easy as it seems in our heads to actually make those changes. We need to be aware of that. And we need to realize that we are never going to be able to do everything perfectly and it’s never going to be a smooth path like that idealized image we have in our minds.
So we try our best to do our part each and every day toward achieving that goal or that dream. Maybe we’ll miss a day or 2 or even week of exercise. Maybe we’ll have days where we are really stressed out and exhausted from work and we’ll go to McDonalds instead of cooking a healthy meal for ourselves like we planned. Maybe we aren’t finding our dream job as quickly as we hoped or even like our jobs. Maybe we’ll spend too much time watching Netflix instead of reading those books we planned. That’s only natural and that’s okay. We can’t give up because of one or two bad days or poor decisions. We can’t be so hard on ourselves for that. We need to accept and understand that the path isn’t always going to be smooth and clear. There’s going to be lots of bumps and we might need to get lost a few times along the way. We’re all human and we’re never going to be perfect or do things just the right way. We’re going to continue messing and making mistakes.
The trick is, no matter how much we might mess up and stray from our path, is to find our way back. The trick is finding that resilience, that strength to pull ourselves in the right direction again if we do stray. That’s the hard part. That’s the part that takes the extra effort.
So if we go into this new year with expectations for our resolutions to go perfectly and for things to instantly change, we’re going to be disappointed over and over again and we will undoubtedly fail. If we can truly allow ourselves to be patient, to give ourselves some leeway, to understand that true change is a process, that it takes time and effort, and that there’s going to be some mistakes along the way, we might just succeed.
We can’t be perfect or do every single thing we hope to each and every day. Let’s take everything one day at a time. Let’s work each day toward achieving our goals the best way we can. Some days may be harder and some days we might just not have it in us. But let’s realize that if we do have a bad day or if we do mess up, that it’s okay. It doesn’t mean our journey is over, it just means we’re human.
So let’s keep aspiring to be better but let’s also give ourselves the time we need to achieve those things.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu