With the start of the new year also being a start of a new decade, social media, advertising, conversations, etc. have been set very much around ‘new year, new you’. Lose weight, get motivated, quit smoking, so on and so forth. Okay, giving up smoking is a really awesome goal – trust me, lung cancer is no picnic. This tide starts somewhere in November and runs through January usually dying off right before Valentine’s Day when our focus shifts toward a holiday that seems to be fraught with expectations and triggers (PS it’s also my 50th birthday – I love gift cards to bookstores, Starbucks and resturants if you feel inclined hahaha).
This new decade also starts my fifth decade of life so I’m being particularly reflective. I know a lot of people dread getting older. Oh, no! I’m going to be fifty! Well, I remember when fifty seemed ancient and now it sounds young. But I’m really not one of those people as I prefer to look as aging as a priviliege that so many people I love and know did not even reach the grand old age of fifty. I’m one of the lucky ones and considering my wayward youth, I am particularly lucky to still be kicking around this great big earth of ours. While I can look in the mirror and see the signs of the years on my face, my skin starting to become crepey, my joints aching a little more each passing month, I am truly and deeply grateful for all of it. I am here and I am alive and I am healthy (knock on wood).
So when you add in the new year, new decade and a landmark birthday, this trifecta got me thinking. I bought a new journal toward the end of the year (okay I’m a journal hoarder, just ask my kids) and started filling it with big ideas and plans. I’m going to lose weight and get really fit. I’m going to finish that novel. So on and so forth. Then a few weeks went by and I went back to this pretty journal. As I’m reading through all that I wrote, I felt more and more tired with each page. How many times had I done this? Make these big plans and when I come back to them, I find my motivation has already waned. Sure it is a good thing to write down your goals to make them real, but do I have the right goals? What if I didn’t make a bunch of big goals? Would the world end?
What if I didn’t work toward a ‘new’ me? What if I am okay with the present ‘me’? Why do I have to keep working toward something big? I’ll be honest, ever since I could write sentences and make up stories, people told me I should write books, be an author. But cresting on my fifth decade, I’ve published in several small ways but I never really feel a thrill or accomplishment in publishing. I truly believe if publishing a book was my heart’s desire, that I would have done it by now or at least made a much larger effort toward this dream. I use writing as a way to work out things whirling around in my mind, to work out problems and sometimes just to entertain myself. I love writing blog posts because it doesn’t take huge amounts of efforts and sometimes I actually reach someone.
Over Christmas break, I spent a day going to several bookstores and trying to imagine my book sitting on their best seller shelf. I’m sure I looked every bit the crazy person standing back with my eyes closed at times, staring at the shelves of hard-back books. I couldn’t imagine it. I didn’t find myself getting excited about the idea of my book and my name on some beautiful cover. I decided that writing a book isn’t a goal of mine. Giving up a something you believed about yourself most of your life is very disconcerting. This was part of my identity, becoming a successful, rich author had been ingrained in my psyche but it hadn’t really been my own goal. I’m still a writer, but I am most likely not going to be the author of best-selling books. I am not closing the door on that possibility but I’m letting go of that goal because right now at least, it’s not mine. I know myself, if it’s something I truly had wanted, I would have achieved it by now or in the very least, put in a Herculean effort.
So what if I don’t change a thing about myself? What if my big goal becomes listening to and following my heart? Giving love and kindness to others. What if that’s it? My whole goal list in three points. Love myself, listen to my heart, be kind to others. The end.
As I wrote that list, I feel very positive and happy about it. I think we get so tied up into accomplishing goals, making ourselves better or new, so on and so forth, that we forget to enjoy the very moment we are standing in. So this year, I’m going to let go and follow those three points. I want to be more in the present moment and enjoy my life. I want to live my life in love and be loved back. On my deathbed, I’m not going to be ‘oh, I wish I’d lose that last ten pounds’ or ‘oh, I regret not writing that novel I didn’t really want to write’ or ‘I didn’t follow that goal list to the tee’.
That’s my goal this year, don’t change a thing (about me). Love myself, love others and follow my heart. Maybe, you could give this a try too cuz you’re awesome just the way you are!