No, You Really Can’t Make Him Change

I got a newsletter today from an outfit that does self-improvement and personal development work and I was intrigued by one of the articles. The headline wondered if one partner can change without leaving the other one behind. It caught my attention because my husband and I are both in the middle of major life shifts (me opening my practice and him going to seminary), so I was curious to see what they had to say about the impact these big changes can have on relationships, and I was intrigued by this idea of being  “left behind.”

How to change your husbandIn the article I found the usual handwaving at the idea that we can’t change other people. It was brief and implied that the idea was assumed. Like, “of course you can’t change anybody else, only yourself.” And then the article proceeded to describe how you might actually be able to change your partner if you do it right – indirectly and by setting a good example, you know being a great role model for your child, I mean partner. You can praise them and be kind so they WANT to change. You can ask supportive questions rather than giving advice so that your partner will feel supported in pursuing change. You can make changing with your partner FUN, again so that your partner will want to change. So we can’t change other people but we sure can try to make them want to change?

What would happen if we just decided that we can change and our partners can be whoever they need to be? What if only one person changing doesn’t mean anyone is being left behind? What if sharing a life path with someone doesn’t mean being cemented at the hip but pursuing our own interests and coming together in enjoyment and fulfillment? What if we stopped asking other people to change when we are uncomfortable?

Don’t get me wrong. I think couples can change together, grow together, share their learning and inspiration. We do it all of the time, but constantly wanting my husband to change in specific ways tends to lead to a great deal of disappointment on my part and confusion and irritation on his.

What if instead of putting all of this time and energy into leading that horse to water, we just stopped to take a nice long drink (not as a role model but for refreshment) and checked out our thoughts about our partners? What if we decided to accept them and believe that adults get to be who they are? What if we decided to change our thoughts and our feelings and let our partners be to develop and grow in their own way, at their own pace, in their own time? What could flourish in a relationship with that kind of space? What could you accomplish if you weren’t so worried about inspiring your partner’s growth?

Complete yourself

You can lead a horse to water, or you can trust your partner to know when she is thirsty and let her sort it out for herself. That doesn’t mean you can’t be supportive. And it doesn’t mean you won’t inspire each other to grow. What it does mean is that you won’t be hinging your own happiness on whether or not your partner jumps through hoops or folds the laundry or goes to law school. What it means is that you get to be whole, and so does your partner. Two whole people, with whole hearts and separate identities – together by choice for mutual celebration and support. Sounds pretty good to me.

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The Common Denominator

Years ago, prior to re-finding me at our 10 year high school reunion, my dear husband was having a rough patch with women. He’d had a few relationships end (as most people do in their 20s) and was feeling sort of mystified as to why this kept happening. He was having a guys’ night with his older brother, and I imagine complaining about women at large – trying to sort through the mysteries of the Mars/Venus interaction by blaming it on the completely confusing THEM. I imagine he expected an empathetic nod and a refill on his beer. Instead he got some straight up wisdom that we still refer to on a pretty regular basis. And that wisdom that he got was a version of a fundamental principle of my life coaching practice.

It's not them, it's you.What his brother told him in that moment of male bonding was something like: “You know, dude, these women were all different and maybe they are ALL messed up in some way, but the common denominator in all of these situations is YOU.” Boom. There’s nothing quite like someone you respect calling you up to a higher level of emotional maturity. And there’s nothing quite like that moment when you’re faced with your own responsibility in a situation.

The thing is being the common denominator doesn’t just apply to times of romantic turbulence and serial monogamy. Being the common denominator may be the single most important realization you can ever have and it is one that will save you SO much time and trouble. Let me tell you how.

If you are dissatisfied when you look at your life, you can likely give me a bunch of reasons why that is so. I can do it too – believe me. I spent the better part of my weekend being dissatisfied and giving myself all kinds of reasons why that was true. We’re on week 3 of my husband’s January term and the novelty has long worn off. I got sick. My kids got sick AND we had an injury to boot that was close to sending us to the ER during the height of flu season. Every plan I’ve made for the last 5 days got screwed up by some level of logistical nonsense. And these things all got added to my list of why I was grumpy and dissatisfied, why I was grouchy to the kids and impatient with my husband when he checked in. But the truth is that my dissatisfaction was coming from my very own brain and I was NOT managing that nonsense. My thoughts were the common denominator. My thought, that was something like: “I never get to do what I want,” (which sounds very 4 years old when you say it out loud) was what was getting to me and I could shift things around, ask for help, but as long as I hung on to that thought, I would still be miserable.

change your thoughts, not your jobAnd that’s the thing that is always true for everybody. Every person I know, when they’re feeling miserable, can provide LOTS of reasons for why they are miserable. And we do all kinds of stuff to get less miserable. We change jobs. We get married. We have children. We get divorced. We move to new places. And there’s nothing wrong with doing any of those things. The problem is doing those things thinking that those changes are what’s going to make the difference in how we feel. I know people who’ve gone through more jobs in 5 years than I’ve had in my lifetime. And each time, they’re sure that THIS position is going to be the one with the good boss. Or that being able to telecommute is going to fix it. Or that living in that new neighborhood is going to make them happy. And don’t get me wrong, changes CAN make us feel better, but so can staying exactly where we are and looking at the common denominator: what we are thinking about our situation.

Whenever a client talks to me about wanting to leave a job, I say the same thing: “what if you could stay there and feel better and THEN decide what you should do next?” Because here’s the thing about decisions we make when we’re thinking crappy thoughts: generally they’re pretty crappy. Crappy thoughts, crappy feelings, crappy choices. It’s one of those garbage in garbage out moments. So we go through all of the trouble of making some huge change and then we discover that really we’re exactly where we were before. “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Instead of pulling the trigger on all of that logistical effort, what would happen if you could change your mind? What would happen if you could get to where you’re thinking in ways that are productive, healthy, and that move you forward so you can see everything much more clearly and are far more capable of imagining a better situation for yourself?

If you’re sitting there feeling miserable and you’re tempted to change the job or change the spouse or change the house, I want to ask you SLOW DOWN and check in on that common denominator. What’s going on in that head of yours that’s got you feeling so bad? And then I want you to remember that those thoughts you’re having, you’re choosing them and you get to unchoose them any time you want. I can help.

The Scorecard

I’m reading Shonda Rhimes’ The Year of Yes for a bookclub I’m in. I’m also, honestly, reading it because it speaks a lot to the rebalancing of my own personal yes and no distribution as mentioned here. Ok, I’m also reading it because it was finally so cheap on Kindle that I figured I would save myself the inevitable library fine and just read it digitally. (Are you deeply saddened to find out about my consistently poor library record?)

As I was reading, just before I allowed myself to doze off for a brief afternoon siesta, I read her description of The Mommy Scorecard.

The Mommy Scorecard is a thing I keep in my head. On it is an imaginary series of zeros and tens that get dished out by some imaginary judge-y bitch who looks an awful lot like me. The zeros hit the card when I fail: when I miss a recital because I’m traveling, when I forget that it’s my turn to provide food for preschool snack day, when we don’t make it to a birthday party because the introvert in me just can’t face the magnitude of all the social interaction.

She continues to talk about The Mommy Wars (where women argue over what the BEST way to parent is in excruciating detail) and she caps it with this: “The only mommy I am ever at war with is me.”

Boom.

I had to breathe for a minute after I read it. This is one of my big bugaboos. I’ve been working on it, but it’s, well, BIG so it’s going to take some time to unhook myself from all of the insane ideas I’ve fed myself about parenting, setting up nearly impossible to meet expectations even as I feel the pain of failing to meet the ones I set up yesterday.

Today I took a nap, even though I had work to do, even though I was resisting it with every fiber of my being, even though I didn’t want to need a nap. But I was SO tired. So tired I couldn’t think clearly. I gave the scant energy I had this morning to a client (and we got some amazing work done, BTW), and after that I felt like I was walking on marshmallows and thinking through syrup. Even if you’re a big sugar fan, you have to acknowledge that that situation doesn’t sound either pleasant OR productive. And the reason I’m so tired? Well, one of them anyway, is my Mommy Scorecard.

pexels-photo-531970My husband is away for January term at seminary in Chicago. He is in Chicago in January, so I’m pretty sure that’s adequate revenge for leaving me to hold down all of the forts. But the part of that calculus that I haven’t been paying attention to is what I do with The Mommy Scorecard when he’s out of town. I realized that I feel like I need to UP my game. I pay more attention. I interact more. I allow things that I don’t usually and sometimes they’re even things that get on my nerves. I set things aside that I would normally finish before I attend to my children. I try to cover all of the emotional bases. My Mommy Scorecard gets WAY more judge-y when Daddy’s out of town.

Yesterday I realized that my daughter’s recital rehearsal falls on the day that I am leaving for Dallas for a quick professional development trip. I tormented myself for a couple of hours in bed trying to figure out how to make it work, who I could ask for help and if that wasn’t really too much to ask and I should really be the one doing this, after all didn’t I miss the rehearsal (not the recital mind you, the freaking rehearsal) LAST year? My Mom is staying with the kids, but she won’t want to do that and it’s a lot to ask to send her to the violin teacher’s house when it will be mobbed with people she doesn’t know and maybe I should ask my sister, but she’s already helped me this month and maybe we should skip it but then she won’t be prepared. I don’t feel so good. MAYBE I SHOULD JUST STAY HOME.

The looming zero on the Mommy Scorecard was just too horrible to face. As I’m writing this I still haven’t figured out what to do about the rehearsal, but I’ve not canceled my trip (deep breath) because that would be ridiculous. And while I wish my reason was better, more grown up, more enlightened, like my time is important, my needs are important, spending time on my coaching practice is important/fulfilling/heartfood, right now recognizing the ridiculousness of canceling is going to have to do.

Having gotten to the other side of the nap, which helped tremendously (thank you Amy English for urging me to sleep), I see what I’m doing to myself. I see how insane my standards are. I see how much time and energy I STILL put into making sure I’m doing things just right for them. And I have to ask myself when enough is going to be enough. What is it that I think will happen if I don’t do it all? What will it mean to them? More importantly I suspect, what will I make it mean about me?

Now I’m looking at the paragraphs above this one and seeing all of those highly charged run on sentences representing my neurotic scrambling and I worry for a minute that you will just think I’m nuts, but I’m going to publish this anyway because I KNOW I’m not the only scorekeeper out here in the big world. Maybe yours isn’t a Mommy Scorecard. Maybe yours is a Good Girl Scorecard, a Good Son Scorecard, a Great Employee/Team Player/Brilliant Colleague Scorecard. Maybe yours is more basic. Maybe yours is a Good Person scorecard.

pexels-photo-545016And I want you to know that I’m not suggesting that it’s terrible to strive to be a good ANY of those things. But when, oh dear lord, WHEN is enough going to be enough? When, in all of the millions of decisions you make every day, can you make the one that will allow you the freedom of just being okay, good enough, not bad, heck even sub-par and then just getting on with it? Will it be the imperfect meal you serve? Will it be the disappointing a parent by missing a family event? Will it be the B+ work you turn in (and are later surprised you got an A- and no scorn at all)? Will it be the time you DON’T volunteer to pick up all of the pieces? Will it be the silence you allow at a meeting when you COULD be solving all of the problems single-handedly? What would happen? Can you let it go? Can you let it be? Can you let yourself off the hook – maybe even only because you know hanging on is ridiculous? What would it feel like to believe you’re enough without getting ALL perfect scores? From one scorekeeper to another, I want to tell you that getting a full night’s sleep is well-worth the attempt.

Letting Ourselves Off The Wrong Hook

I was uncomfortable even writing that title because so much of the personal work I’ve needed to do over the last few years was to let myself off of the hook (the perfect Mom hook, the perfect student hook, the perfect whatever hook), BUT this particular hook that was brought to my attention this weekend intrigues me.

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. day in the U.S. Tributes were plentiful. And I do indeed find it right to honor the memory of that man and his work. One tribute got me to thinking. The speaker suggested that there is a danger in making a saint of MLK, of lionizing him too much, of thinking he was so much more than a regular man.

When we make a hero of someone, they become something extraordinary, something above the rest of us, something unreachable, perhaps entirely unattainable. And as we raise them up in honor, we let ourselves off the hook in our own actions, our own goals, our own choices. We can’t possibly expect that much of ourselves for we are just regular people.

WOW. I hadn’t thought about it that way.

There really can be two reactions to our heroes. They can inspire us to action, or they can make us sure that we couldn’t possibly have that kind of impact, be that good, achieve that much. We raise people up so high that we sell ourselves short.

I’m not going to spend the time here to remind everyone that Martin Luther King Jr. was just a man, because I have hero worshipped him for so long that that position is uncomfortable for me. But I can tell you something interesting that I heard in that same tribute. MLK was away from home 90% of the time during the most active part of his organizing career. He was with his family and children 10% of the time.  I say that not to judge his work life balance, but to point to the effort required to achieve what he did, to point to his doggedness rather than his saintliness, to highlight his determination rather than his salvation. The man worked his behind off. He was not merely gifted; he did the work.

happy kid play superhero , boy power conceptWhat would happen if we made our heroes more accessible? If we stopped believing that they are unicorns and started believing that we are just as capable as they are of making change, of creating new and better ways of doing things, of helping people be better, of becoming better people ourselves? What would happen if we believed that we could be as extraordinary as our heroes? What if, as Jung suggests, the things we admire in others are just untapped potential in ourselves? What would you do first if you could be your own hero?

Get It All Out, Get It All Done

I’ve been talking a lot about our stories lately, the things we tell ourselves about ourselves, about other people, about the world. But a lot of our stories aren’t even as big as all of that. We have stories on the micro-level too. We have stories about our day, about our workload, about our priorities. Well, maybe you don’t, but I sure do.

I have one persistent story that shows up often, especially if I haven’t gotten enough sleep. In fact if I made a chart to track my bad sleep nights and mornings I have this thought, I think they’d line up pretty darn well. When I haven’t gotten enough rest, my morning mantra is “I won’t be able to get it all done.” Now when I say it’s a mantra, that makes it sound like I’m doing it on purpose, that I’m choosing it, that it might be helpful. I know it’s not. This story about my day, about my workload, about the next several hours is completely counter-productive, and that’s what makes it such a great example to demonstrate the value of getting it all out. Let me explain.

How to be more productiveThis very morning I was doing that thing. “I won’t be able to get it all done.” Once the thought happened, the anxiety increased and once the anxiety increased I got a lot less clear about my plan for the day. Once I got less clear, I began to lose track of everything I actually did or didn’t need to do and after this went on for awhile (in the background while assembling lunches and nagging 5th graders out of the door), all I really wanted to do was turn on Netflix, pop Facebook open, and drink a mug of tea – the very things that would, in fact, make my annoying thought true. I wanted to self-soothe by numbing out a little to shut that nattering voice up. But I didn’t do that, at least not today (I won’t go so far as to claim that I am completely and permanently beyond that kind of behavior).

Today I whipped out a clean piece of paper. And I wrote. I wrote it all down. I wrote down all of the anxious, nagging, self-confidence killing thoughts that were whizzing through my head. I just kept writing. I got to the end of the thread and my jacked up brain started just repeating itself, wanting to be sure I really understood that I couldn’t possibly get it all done. I kept writing my thoughts and that one repeated three times at the end of a lengthy paragraph, like a needle skipping on a record. And I laughed a little when that happened. What better sign that my brain was stuck in a loop, what Brooke Castillo calls a “thought error” than having it just repeat the same sentence over and over when it was out of other words? I don’t run out of words very often, as you may have noticed, so that kind of repetition is worth a pause. The point of this whole writing exercise was to get it all out, just let my anxious brain have its moment to say it all.

I gave voice to the fear and the anxiety and in doing so, it lost some of its power. I became the observer of my own thoughts and feelings instead of reacting and feeling like I was trapped. I began to see how allowing that set of thoughts was impacting me. I could acknowledge that the desire for a morning off was based solely on the way those thoughts made me feel, well and maybe a little lack of sleep. I got it all out, like one big verbal vomit. And, well to be honest about the analogy, just like vomit, it made me feel better.

Then I was able to look at my day and decide if that thought was true. Was it really true that I couldn’t possibly get it all done? Was there really so much on my plate? If the answer was yes, I would have a series of decisions to make (as described here), but as is so often the case when I’m stuck in this particular mental trap, I didn’t have SO much to do. I did have some important things to do that I hadn’t thought about very much. I had some items that were at risk of falling through the cracks, but had not yet done so. I made a quick list of those items and set it aside.

How to change your moodAnd then I got down to the business of choosing a new thought, one that would make me feel better, that would allow for action beyond the great escape of Netflix and Facebook (I will always drink tea), and that would give me results that DON’T prove the negative thoughts I have about myself. Instead of “I won’t be able to get it all done,” I chose the perhaps only mildly ambitious but totally believable: “I will be able to get everything important done.” It didn’t make me feel like Wonder Woman – because I’m tired and that’s just not somewhere I need to try to go today. But it DID make me feel calmer and infinitely more competent. It also reminded me that some list items CAN be let go in the interest of clear-headed productivity.

I got it all out. I checked out my thoughts. I chose a better one. And that better thought allowed me to feel capable, calm, relieved and competent. Feeling that way allowed me to sit down with my planner and figure out exactly what needed doing and when, making a schedule for myself that I could follow and get results. And you know what happened? I got it all done. I got it all out and then I got it all done.

The Path of “We” and “Me”

I went to a masquerade ball on Saturday night. Yes, that’s what I said.

I hesitated to go. My husband is away for monthlong classes at seminary. It was EXCEEDINGLY cold (not really conducive for ball-wear). And I had a great lunchtime event that I felt like called for a few hours of putting my feet up.

But my friend wisely said: “Your children are with your sister. My husband will drive us both. C’Mon Cinderella. It’s time to have some fun.” And so I did.

photo-booth-wedding-party-girls-160420And I had SO much fun. I danced like I haven’t danced for YEARS. Got all sweaty haired and disheveled. I felt the freedom of doing something that was fun and doing it exactly the way I wanted to do it. I drank champagne. I nibbled on divine snacks. My girlfriend and I tried to figure out who was who behind all of the masks. And when the songs were right, we tore it up.

People expressed some sympathy that Scot couldn’t join us.

But honestly, he’s having SO MUCH FUN doing his thing. He calls all excited about theology… I try to keep up.

Last year I saw this month long requirement of his as a huge burden. I was angry. Not necessarily at him because that felt mean, but at the school for running things this way, at the extra work I had to do, at the inconvenience of it all.

This year there’s something different happening. A coach friend shared a vision of relationships as a path, and that sometimes there are divergences on the path – like when you’re hiking and there’s a little side trail that avoids the big rock in case that’s not your jam. She said people are often afraid of those divergences – what if we grow apart? But here’s a question I’d offer instead: what if we stop growing at all? What will we miss out on if we never take that divergence – if we always stick on the “we” path and never sidestep for a “me” minute?

When I was at the ball I noticed a young woman (her gown was fabulously sparkly) who very clearly LOVED to dance. She was dancing and singing along with the music most of the night. Her partner in crime was NOT as enthusiastic. And so, she spent a good bit of that dancing in a sort of muted way next to her partner’s chair. When she couldn’t stand it anymore, when the song was just too good ,she’d rush to the dance floor without him. I also saw him graciously concede a few times and join her for a slow song.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd I couldn’t help but wonder if she wouldn’t have more fun if she just followed that side path a little more often. If she wouldn’t feel more like herself, and he wouldn’t love the confidence and magic that comes with that feeling, if she could just trust that the “we” path could survive a few more minutes of unrestrained “me.”

How about you? Which path are you on? Do you like your reasons for being there? Do you feel like yourself? It’s worth a moment to consider.

I’ve done that. I’m going to go dance some more.

The Year of Yes AND No

Many of you may not know, but once upon a time, I was an environmental policy analyst. I was then a high school history and civics teacher. I am a mother of twins.

I have spent a LOT of time saying no.  

If I could calculate it, I suspect I have spent years of my life saying no in countless varied and creative ways. There are realms in which I, quite frankly, excel at saying no. Malcolm Gladwell says 10,000 hours brings mastery and I’m pretty sure I am a NO master if that is the criteria. 

But here’s the interesting thing, my capacity for saying No has always been narrow and deep. 

we say no a lotMy music partner will tell you I easily reject music and musical opportunities. My husband will tell you I readily reject movies, books and other artistic expressions that don’t interest me or suit my taste. My children, well, that’s a long list, but still somewhat focused – on their health and well-being.

By contrast, there have been huge areas in which I have, at least until recently, been completely incapable of saying no. 

  • I was incapable of saying no to demands for my time from friends, family, tradition or obligation.
  • I was unable to say no to suggestions about my professional career from people I respected.
  • I was unable to say no when credit for my work was co-opted by my male colleagues while I worked for a government contractor.
  • I was unwilling to say no to professions that drained me of my life force and made me feel terrible. 
  • I was incapable of saying no to old family stories about who I am and who I can ever be.
  • I was unable to say no to my own impossible vision of motherhood.

During this time of failing to say No to so many fundamental things, I said yes, either directly or implicitly, to far too many things.

 And my days grew full and tiring.

And my energy waned.

And my zest for life fizzled.

Years ago, a counselor I saw after a nearly fatal miscarriage asked what it would take for me to stop. What would it take for me to slow down, be more discerning about what’s necessary, put myself in the equation, take care of myself on a fundamental level? My sessions with her were short-lived. She had the right message, but I wasn’t ready to hear it. So, I didn’t. Instead:

  • I trudged on in a degree program that I didn’t want to actually complete.
  • I volunteered to be the matriarch for my in-laws.
  • I organized people, things, events.
  • I prided myself on holding impossible standards even as I felt the wound of failing to meet them so regularly.

Because that whole time, I thought I was saying YES to life.

I thought the more yes I could say, the more “good” I was being, the more “good I was doing. 

It turns out I had my yeses and my nos all mixed up, and sorting that mess out took some real soul searching.

It took taking the time to identify the old family and personal narratives about my character – calling them out: “I see you. I hear you. But I think you are lying to me. I’m saying no to you

It took getting really clear about what kinds of messages, what kinds of requests actually made my life feel fulfilling not just full. It took new tools. It took new perspectives. It took me learning to say yes to my own wisdom and to the truth of my heart and using that as my guide rather than the old storybook I had so carefully constructed. It took a lot of work, this shuffling of my responses to life.

Because I really want to say yes, a lot. But I want to say yes to the things that will nurture the best parts of me, that will help me to grow, and that will allow me to share whatever gifts that I might have with the people around me.

And so I want to show you a trick. And if you’re anything like I was, this may seem a little weird. But as a current expert on Yes and No, I’m going to ask that you bear with me.

If you are comfortable doing so, place your feel flat on the floor and close your eyes. For a moment I’d like you to just check in with your body. How do you feel physically? Any tension? Any discomfort? Just notice it but don’t linger on it. Deep breaths.

Now I want you to think about a moment in your life that was decidedly bad – don’t worry I won’t leave you here. Just think about it and then see how you feel in your body. Notice anything? Maybe upset in your stomach. Maybe tension in your throat or shoulders? Notice how it FEELS to you. Make a mental note that THIS sensation, this is NO.

Now shake your head or your hands and take a breath to clear away that memory. And now, think about one of the BEST moments you’ve ever had. Something that was truly great, with no lasting consequences or ill after-effects. Something that was clearly and unarguably good. Notice how THAT feels in your body. THIS my friends, this is yes. That scare-cited tingle in the chest, that feeling of expansion, that warmth in the belly and that relaxed open throat. THIS is yes.

THIS is what you want more of.

Maybe you’ve never noticed this information before. Maybe your yeses and nos have been distributed in a more rational way.

So, why turn to the body? 

Because our brains get caught up in the story and get distracted by shiny objects. It’s not to say that our brains can’t be trusted at all, but other data sources can only help.

What I’ve learned is that using the guidance of my heart, and my BODY, I’ve been able to say YES to the experiences that I seem to deeply require. And I’ve been able to apply my NO to things that just don’t serve me, or, at least don’t serve me anymore.

What to say yes toAs we part, I’d ask you to consider where you’re currently applying your YES and your NO. What story are you letting in? What heart evidence are you denying? Are you full but not fulfilled? Saying yes to life often means starting with a few Nos and then learning to utter a YES directly from your heart.

Concerning Resolution Bashing

I’ve seen a lot of memes out there… I could probably start many different blog posts with that same phrase… I’ve seen a lot of memes out there taking a poke at the idea of making a resolution or starting afresh in the new year. And I get it.

pexels-photo-221247I think I’ve probably been in the resolution bashing camp in the past. I’ve decided it was silly to make myself a promise of change just because the calendar says it’s time to and when I know that in the past those promises have worn out by mid-February. So I get it. I get that hearing someone declare that they’re going to be a new person in the new year makes some folks roll their eyes and maybe even utter a chuckle or a sigh. I get that we know that those kinds of promises can be hard to fulfill. I get that so many of our good intentions don’t turn out the way we want them to. I get that seeing someone rearing with enthusiasm we don’t feel can be uncomfortable. But really?

Are we really against the idea of someone deciding to try to change, even if it’s never worked before? Are we really wanting to mock someone who’s trying to improve themselves? Are we so sure that you wouldn’t succeed that we’ve decided the whole enterprise is ridiculous? I think there are lots of reasons behind this resolution bashing thing, but I can only talk about my own.

When I was a resigned resolution basher, it had everything to do with previous failures and being terrified of success. When it came to my weight I didn’t want to make a resolution because I knew my enthusiasm would wane in a few months. Why make a promise I can’t keep FOREVER? When it came to changing some of my habits, I decided that “I yam who I yam” (even if I don’t like it very much). When it came to taking some risks in my professional life, well, yeah, no resolutions there because that’s just WAY too frightening.

I’ve done some work on all of those things – without resolutions, and looking back at those moments from the other side makes me wonder if making a resolution is all about success. Maybe there are other things to be gained in that whole process. Maybe trying and failing is better than staying firmly planted exactly where we are. Maybe a resolution is an opportunity to force a little action, and sometimes a little action is all it takes.

pexels-photo-636243The truth is that this opportunity of celebrating the new year with a new goal is one that shouldn’t be missed. Maybe you’re not interested in buying a gym membership that you will only use for a month. But maybe you DO have a super secret goal, a tiny burning desire that you haven’t told anyone about. Maybe this moment in time when we get to start new things on a clean page of a fresh planner is a great time to ask yourself what you can do today to get just one step closer to that super secret goal. And then tomorrow? You can take another one. Maybe that’s all it needs to be. You don’t need to tell anyone. You don’t need to declare it on Facebook. Maybe you just need to say it to yourself so you can stop hiding it from your heart and from your amazing brilliant brain. Give that dream some energy and some air; maybe something can come of it after all.

Happy New Year Friends.

xo,

julia