I’m not an overly reflective or sentimental person. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely devoid of emotion, I just don’t spend a lot of time musing over the past. As we turned over a new year this past weekend though, I found myself thinking a lot about 2016, as well as the coming year.
The past year has been truly amazing. I’ve watched my daughter go from an infant to a toddler, learn to walk, talk, run, dance, play, slide, eat with a spoon and fork, swing, jump, and so many more things. I have made new friends, done a lot of self-development, grown as a wife and mom, and I started something that has been a dream of mine since 2009 – this blog.
I’ve changed A. LOT. this past year, and I am truly loving the path that I am on at the moment. So, I have been mulling over what I want for the coming year. I’ve never been big on resolutions, but a number a years ago, it became popular to come up with a guiding word for the year, instead of making resolutions. While I was intrigued by the idea, I never chose to participate…until now.
This year, I’ve decided to choose one word to be my focus. After thinking about what I wanted the year to look like, my goals for the year, and how I wanted to feel throughout the year, I’ve chosen the word forward as my very first “word of the year.”
I know it may not be the most exciting word (or maybe it’s even downright boring), but let me explain my choice. I am incredibly hard on myself, and I know that I am far from alone in that sentiment. I want to do everything, AND do it perfectly. Totally reasonable expectation, right?
At one time, it was reasonable. When I was younger, I was involved in many different things – choir, orchestra, piano, theater, swimming, academics, dance, etc. – and I truly was good, if not the best, at all of them. Unfortunately, though, this set me up with the expectation that things should be the same now that I am a fully independent, adult woman. Except, all that it really does, is set me up for failure.
When I was younger, I didn’t have any bills to pay, I didn’t have an entire home to maintain, I didn’t have a child and husband to take care of, I wasn’t really in charge of my own schedule, I didn’t have to personally care for the furry creatures living at my house, I didn’t have to cook, and on and on and on. My only job was to do my best at the activities that I was involved in. Yet, even as my responsibilities have continued to grow as I get older, my expectations have not changed. So, I end up feeling like a failure in pretty much every area of my life.
For instance, just this Christmas season, I found myself irritable and snappy at times with both my husband and my daughter. Fail. I feel like I am drowning in my house because of how much stuff we have accumulated. Fail. I never get through my daily to-do list because there’s just not enough time. Fail. Some days, it’s noon before I realize that the reason the cats are driving me insane is because they have no food. Fail. Recently, we’ve not been eating as healthfully, or cleanly, as I like because, again, it’s difficult to find time for everything. Fail.
Since my expectation is essentially perfection, in every area of my life, when I don’t achieve that, it becomes a strike against my competency. I have a hard time looking past the negative, and therefore, I rarely recognize all of the things that I have done right.
It’s a tough way to live, and yet, I have been doing it for years. So, this is what led to my word choice.
I need to let go of the constant feeling of failure. For me, the word ‘forward’ means progress – and not necessarily a designated amount of progress. Just progress. This coming year, at the end of the day, I am going to look at my to-do list, and instead of asking myself if I have completed the list, I am going to ask myself if I made progress with the list. Are my home projects moving forward? Am I making progress with my blog? Is my relationship with both my husband and my daughter moving forward? Am I continuing to work on self-development? I believe that most days, the answer to many of these questions will be yes.
My hope is that as the year progresses, and I am intentional in focusing simply on progress (instead of perfection), I can begin to eliminate the feeling of failure, and instead, start seeing all of the things that I am actually accomplishing.
I also love the fact that when we are excited about something upcoming, the phrase we use to express our excitement is “I’m looking forward to it.” And that’s the truth. I’m really am looking forward to this year.
Happy New Year!