Undoubtedly, when one year closes and another begins, it’s standard to spend some time reflecting on the past year. I, for one, concluded that 2017 was a year of tremendous personal growth.
It was a year that earned me another notch on my motherhood belt, pushed me to rise to incredible personal and professional challenges, and finally, crescendoed into a new acceptance and awareness that has changed the way I show up for myself every single day.
All of that being said, none of those personal growth items were my 2017 resolutions. My resolutions were – yawn – pretty standard: Lose weight, save money, curse less, and read more.
I didn’t do any of those things – at least, not intentionally in 2017. So, here’s my hang up about resolutions: They seem always to be driven by a lack of self-love. There is very little focus on real personal growth. Hear me out.
Every year since I can remember, I have resolved to change myself in some way or another. Started from my tween years until the eve of 2017. Most of the time, those changes have been physical goals to lose weight by means of crazy diet and strenuous exercise, all with the expectation that if I were thinner, I’d be happier.
But here’s the catch with this whole thing: When I look back to photos of myself at my thinnest and fittest, it’s still fresh enough in my mind to remember that I wasn’t even happy with my body then. I wonder today why I didn’t celebrate that body, but rather spent more time obsessing over the last pound I thought I needed to lose. I spent so much energy and time striving for something that I perceived would bring me happiness, rather than focusing on just being happy in my journey.
If you’ve read my blog posts this year, you know by now that I’ve dug into some complicated (at least to me) topics – from competitive moms, to unhooking from social media. All of those things were born from a growing awareness about what we spend our limited allotment of energy on; and better yet, I evaluated how that energy expenditure makes me feel.
And here’s the biggest catch of them all. I began to realize early in 2017 that focusing on how I measured up actually held me back from growing.
It’s like a Catch 22, or something like that. You see, when I was focused on making more money, or growing in my career, or losing weight, or extending my social reach, I approached it like a project. I looked at the landscape, identified my audience, built a strategy, mapped out tactics, and then committed myself to execution. It was WORK.
The result was, I didn’t like it, and it wasn’t effective. I didn’t FEEL my way through any of it; I didn’t pay attention to the energy imbalance inside, which resulted in the opposite of happiness. I was anxious, discouraged, and as a result, I beat up on myself for my inability to measure up. I didn’t lose weight – in fact, I gained it. I didn’t extend my social circle through meaningful relationships, I didn’t read more, I certainly didn’t curse less (though I don’t know who I’m kidding with that one), and I spent money more willingly – aka retail therapy.
As the awareness of this built, I switched my thinking. I decided to do only what interests me, and enjoy the things that fed me joy, energy, and contentment, and let those actions lead me to an authentic place of happiness.
You know what the result was? Without trying, I lost weight because I was kind to my body. I embraced it as it was and nurtured it like a loved one. I read more because I found new interests that I couldn’t get enough of. I saved money because I was more focused on the things that really mattered to me. I poured my energy into the work I loved and got a promotion. I don’t say any of this to brag. In fact, until I spent time reflecting on 2017, I didn’t even notice it. I was too busy being and enjoying and living