As 2017 comes to an end, and 2018 approaches, many people are beginning to reflect on the last twelve months. One year ago I found myself reflecting on the most challenging year of my life and promised myself the following for 2017:
My relationship with you begins today. I want to promise you that no matter who you place in my path this year, I will love them. I will be kind, real, and genuine to all those who I encounter. I promise to take any experience you set in front of me and learn from it. I promise to try my hardest to live in the moment and not worry too much about what is to come. I know whatever it is, will be out of my control anyway, and worrying will only take away from the NOW. I promise to be gentle with myself and only do what is true to my soul, and I will no longer settle for what is comfortable. I promise to have fun, make memories, and cherish every moment I have, and I promise that no matter what you have in store for me…..
I will survive.
I stayed true to this promise and I am happy to report, 2017 was one of my most authentic years yet.
Hardships, tragedy, and unexpected change often have a way of teaching you particular lessons that you may not otherwise learn as quickly; if ever. As I continue on my individual journey of recovery and growth, I often find myself compelled to share the moments of clarity and truth that I have learned along the way. When I look back at where I was 22 months ago, I had no faith in my survival, and I know there are so many others struggling with the same feelings of hopelessness and fear.
As you think about what 2018 may look like for you, perhaps consider some of these suggestions to help guide you through the upcoming months. Death provides you with a perspective that is sharp but powerful, and I wholeheartedly believe in every one of these points.
1. Identify your values – What parts of your life do you value? What areas do you want more time for, and what would make you feel more satisfied and content? Once you begin to align your life with your values and your soul, you will likely feel more content. Identifying your values is crucial for any type of growth. If you don’t understand your values, you may continue to allocate time to things that are not nourishing your soul. This can be an exhausting way of life and one that you will always want a vacation from. Values = what’s important to YOU – NOT to someone else.
2. Identify YOUR goals and don’t be afraid to dream big – Once you have determined your values, goal setting can begin with a fresh and healthy slate. It is often difficult as it requires a level of belief in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself and your capability, you will sell yourself short when it comes time to set goals.
So maybe #2 should be to believe in yourself. One of the most significant differences between those who are “stuck” and those who are living a life of pure satisfaction, is that those who are satisfied had faith in themselves, stepped out of their comfort zone, and went for it.
3. STOP trying to please everyone – One of the most important lessons in life is to learn that you will not always please everyone. Nor should you try. Not everyone will support you, and not everyone will agree with decisions you make through out your life. That’s okay because it’s not their life to live; it’s yours.
Also when it comes to your day to day life, you must remember that you CAN’T do everything, and sometimes you just don’t have to. There are countless videos online and books that are written about “giving fewer f#$ks.” I can’t tell you how liberating it is when you finally learn to say NO. There are times in our lives when those we care about, and sometimes strangers, may need us in times of crisis or hardship. During these times it might make sense to do something that may be out of your comfort zone. These acts of kindness and compassion are essential in our lives to provide us with gratitude and sometimes meaning.
What’s different is going out of your way to do something you don’t want to do, but feel obligated to, because you are afraid someone might be upset if you don’t.
Listen, your life is your life, and if you choose to stay home in your pajamas with your loved ones, instead of going to that work Christmas party you have been dreading for months, THAT’S OKAY. If someone gives you a hard time for choosing YOU, they don’t matter anyway.
This brings me to my next point…
4. Determine your tribe – There are those who are in your tribe and those who are not. This is so important to realize. There are people you will spend time with that will leave you feeling energized, motivated, and loved, and there are those people you may spend time with that leave you feeling depleted. Choose wisely.
Of course, there are situations you can’t always control so when you have control, make sure to recognize your circle and only spend time with those who will fuel your fire; not put it out.
5. DO NOT compete with others – Social media has become a powerful catalyst for competition for many of us. I believe we are all guilty of this sometimes. We look at other peoples lives, and for some reason, we feel less adequate or less worthy. I am honestly fascinated by the level of focus and weight that we place on the amounts of likes, comments, and shares that we get for our posts. In some cases, relating to business and marketing, these things are essential, but in other cases; the amount of acknowledgment you get on social media does not equate to the amount of worthiness you possess. Please remember this.
6. Be kind to yourself – Everyone has that one person who criticises you more than anyone else and in most cases; that person is YOU. This year, try to be kind to yourself. Work hard towards your goals, but remember that somedays not everything will work out. Some days you might just want to relax on the couch and eat popcorn for dinner, and some days you may feel like giving up. When these days creep up, be kind to yourself and remember; tomorrow is a new day. You are allowed to feel off sometimes, just don’t get stuck there.
7. Forgive as quickly as possible – This is so incredibly important. Through out your life, chances are good at some point you will be hurt, betrayed, and misled. You may experience pain that is undeniably torturous and will feel as though forgiving is impossible. To forgive someone does not mean you have to allow them to remain in your life. It does not mean you have to love them or that you have to accept what they did to you as being okay. All forgiving means is that you are releasing that toxicity out of you and allowing yourself to breathe freely. You are taking that power away from the person, and the circumstance and you are allowing yourself to “be” okay, despite what has been done to you. I have personally had people cheat, lie, and steal, and forgiving was the hardest thing for me to do; but also the most powerful practice for my soul.
8. Eliminate fear – Fear is not real. Fear is a product of our thoughts, and our thoughts, assuming you are mentally healthy, can be controlled. This may not be the case when someone is suffering mental health issues or any other diagnosis that affects the brain, and there is help for those people if they choose it, however, it is sometimes easier said than done.
Those who are healthy CAN control their thoughts, and you must realize that fear is not real and you can overcome it. When you have a moment of feeling fearful, stop and recognize the thoughts that are causing you grief and separate yourself from them. You are not your thoughts; YOU are your actions. Try not to overthink things too much because the more you analyze, the more you resort to self-sabotage. In times of growth, you must discover your dreams, quickly eliminate thoughts that produce fear, and then act. Let 2018 be the year of action.
I like to remember that in order to live fearlessly you must accept that some things will be uncomfortable. When you can become comfortable with being uncomfortable there will be more room for magic to happen.
9. Live on purpose – don’t wait for things to get better – make them better. For some reason we often find ourselves wanting more or wanting better before we can feel content. Once I get that new job, I will feel better. Once we buy that bigger house, I will have more room to achieve my goals. Once we have a baby, our relationship will thrive. If you can not meet yourself where you are and feel content; you will never feel content, and you will always want more. Again, assuming that you are mentally healthy; happiness is a choice. It’s not always easy but it’s a choice. You should not need “something” to be happy. You can simultaneously work towards your dreams and be satisfied with where you are and what you have. You can always want more but don’t forget to be grateful for what you already have. Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy in a positive direction. You may be surprised with what you can manifest when you have a positive attitude.
10. Where there is a will there is a way – YOU have the power to do anything you put your mind to. Will it be easy? Likely not. Will it be trying at times and even exhausting? More than likely. Do things like having children and limited bank accounts make it more challenging? Absolutely, but it DOES NOT make your dreams impossible. One of the easiest ways to find hope and inspiration is to read stories of triumph from people who started from a similar story as your own. No story is the same, but many have similar pieces to them. If you are a single parent, find empowering stories of other single parents. If you are a widow/widower, find encouraging stories of widows/widowers who have overcome tragedy, and built a positive life out of a crappy hand of cards. If you are a lonely student struggling to pay your bills, read stories of other lonely students who managed to pull themselves out of bankruptcy and into complete financial freedom.
I can say confidently that my recovery was more bareable because I made it a daily choice to read stories of inspiration, and to reach out and meet people who amaze me every single day. Some things will help you and some things won’t. Take what you want and leave the rest. Don’t focus on the things that don’t help and don’t work, focus on the things that do. I made that choice, and I encourage you to do the same. You are not alone, and you too are capable of anything.
11. “Things” are not important – When I read the eulogy I had written for my beloved fiancé I did not mention any tangible items that he had. I did not discuss his bank account, and I did not share the size of his home. I spoke of those he loved, the memories he made, and the love that we shared. I shared the way he made people feel and the times he made us laugh. When I had him cremated, I did not place any of his “things” in there with him. I kissed him on the forehead, I told him I loved him more than anything, and I said goodbye. All of his “things” stayed behind and no longer meant anything.
Death has a way of teaching us things we may not have otherwise learned. Death is permanent, and you realize just how fragile this life is. So much can change in a year and as you enter into 2018, decide what is most important to you and remind yourself of it every single day. Create a daily ritual that makes sense for you and try not to lose sight of who YOU are and what you value. Try to be a better version of yourself every single day and on those off days, be gentle on yourself.
As you dive into 2018, remember that life is short and none of us are meant to settle. We are meant to dream big, we are meant to thrive, and we are meant to serve in a capacity that nourishes our soul. The moment you start living in a way that aligns with your soul, you will feel a shift in your life that is truly peaceful.
Happy New Year