The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Today is December 31st 2017 and today marks an entire year of weekly resolutions. This mini-series taught me a lot about myself and I hope you enjoyed reading along the way. Thank you for sky diving into my mind with me for the past 50 resolution posts. I’d like to use this last Sunday as an ode to all those that came before it. Click on any of the Resolutions below to read more. Lastly, as you look back on this year, I hope you find peace, understanding, and a little bit of hope.
I don’t care how busy you are. I don’t care how sad you are. I don’t care how unfair everything seems. You have to remember that you matter. You have to remember to take care of yourself. You have to remember that even if everything else around you is falling apart, you don’t have to be too.
It can be incredibly difficult to put yourself out there. To offer a bold opinion in a divisive world where people from all sides and viewpoints are quick to point out your flaws and tear you down. Stand tall. Don’t apologize for your voice. Do your research. Try to understand the other side. Approach everyone with respect until they give you a reason not to and once they give you that reason not to, walk away. The second you walk away from a toxic, harmful, hate-filled relationship is the second that you win.
When you are fortunate enough to be the new generation voice in a place that so desperately needs an advocate for compassion – cheer, even if you are cheering alone.
4. Do Something
Keep doing your small repetitive actions – even if they seem unimportant.
I felt like I was starring in a movie I never asked to be in. But there I was anyway…the leading lady. And if someone gave me this role, I might as well rise to the occasion. And in rising to the occasion, I might learn that it’s okay to feel deeply and it’s okay to break down. Sometimes, we have to completely fall apart to become something better.
Keep your head up and trust in what you’re doing. Follow nobody’s path for your life but your own. Don’t feel like you owe anybody an explanation for the way you are doing things. Don’t think you have to apologize for needing a little more space or a little more time. Take care of yourself. Trust yourself. And keep pushing forward. In the race with yourself, you’ve already won.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to hate. It’s the easiest thing to hold onto what hurt you and stay angry over what you believe to be a grave injustice. It takes compassion and vulnerability to open yourself to the other person’s story. It takes maturity to open the conversation…to admit you were wrong…to realize that you hadn’t thought about things from every angle.
Be patient with yourself. Shake your head and start over.
I always ask for stamps for Christmas… and if I do it right, I always have to ask for more stamps for my birthday in May. This week, write 2 letters: the first to someone you talk to all the time. They won’t be surprised to hear from you, but they will be surprised at the manner in which you have chosen to communicate. Second, write to someone who has had a profound impact on you that you, perhaps, haven’t spoken to in quite some time. Thank them for the influence they have had on your life. Tell them you are thinking about them. Tell them you hope they have an amazing day.
10. Say I Love You
My point is don’t buy into the hype of over-using “I love you.” Don’t think that you can ever say it too much or that someone could possibly get tired of hearing it. At the same time, recognize its weight – even if you are just saying “I love you; you’re my best friend and I’d do anything for you” kind of way. Because even in that, you are promising a bit of yourself to someone who means a great deal to you.
11. Own Up To It
There’s no taking back something you’ve said. There’s no undoing something you’ve done. All you can do is own it, apologize, and move forward.
12. Go to Bed
When I started taking care of my body and giving it rest, I was more productive, energized, and organized throughout the day.
There’s nothing noble about stirring a fight. There’s nothing impressive about saying something derogatory about someone who is different than you. There’s nothing funny about a joke that attacks a marginalized group of people. And for the love of all that is good in the world – there is never a good reason to make a rape joke.
14. Spend Time Alone
Right now, I’m just thinking about me…about being here…about loving this moment – whatever that may mean. And right now, I’m just thinking about how I can simply be.
Your best bet is to start now. To go back to the beginning and plant solid roots. To build from the foundation up instead of aimlessly trying to hammer your way to a home. It’s not easy to go back and – in a way – start new. But it is necessary. Start from the basics. Work your way up. A task is only worth completing if you complete it properly and with integrity.
I’m learning more and more every day that life is a series of little moments that sometimes add up to really big ones. I’m starting to realize that all those seemingly insignificant decisions that I had made at one point or another regarding jobs or apartments or even ways I spend my free time have led me to where I am right now.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve flown around the sun, how many degrees you hold, or how many years of similar work-related experience you have under your belt. What matters most is the desire to learn, to work hard, to improve, and to give it your best. Every. Single. Day.
I think we often think we have to wait for the perfect moment to do something. Much like witches from old cartoons who need the second full moon after the third snow storm in the month of December during a year that ends in 5, I think we often feel like we need all the stars to align.
We buy that cute new dress but it hangs in our closet, “waiting” for the perfect occasion. Girl, put on that dress. Twirl in a circle and stare in the mirror at all the beautiful that you are. There is no more time to wait around for the perfect occasion. This moment is perfect. This occasion is your life.
Talk to your friends about how you spent Saturday morning volunteering. Encourage them to come with you. Better yet, encourage them to find their own cause that they can tirelessly advocate for.
The second you think you know everything is the second you lose any knowledge you had. The second you stop listening in the moment you cease to see. I’m realizing now that the only way to constantly improve is to constantly humble yourself in the pursuit of knowledge. To realize that you don’t know everything – nor is there any way for you to know everything. To realize that everyone you meet has something to teach you and to know that it is okay to be wrong, to not be as well-read, to ask a question.
We need to be the helpers. We need to be the keepers of peace and the children of kindness. We need to promote acceptance and love and understanding and compassion. We need to let ourselves feel pain caused by violence so we can be the generation to work toward ending it.
22. Open Up
I have always loved the idea of taking the thing that has destroyed you the most and using it to rebuild something even more beautiful. This is a never-ending process for me, the idea of turning pain into beauty, but it is something I urge you to work on this week. It won’t be easy, but I have to believe that it is worth it. I have to believe that sharing our stories is what makes us the most human.
23. Say a Prayer
I want to know that the people I love are doing well.
When I was in 10th grade, our chemistry teacher told us we could make a front and back note card for the final exam. We could write whatever we wanted on it and use it for the test. If we did, we automatically lost 10 points. If you used a note card, the highest grade you could get on the test was a B.
I was debating this idea with my brother when I said perhaps the most profound thing that’s ever come out of my mouth, “I don’t think I want the note card. I don’t want to give up before I’ve started. I want to give myself a fighting chance.”
I don’t want to give up before I start on anything - not on a job, not on a race, and certainly, not on myself. I’m done selling myself short. If I fail, then I fail. But it won’t be because I didn’t try.
Oh and that chemistry test? 96%.
For me, there is no middle ground. I fly to dramatic extremes like it’s my 4th job. But why? Maybe I can learn to live in the grey space. Maybe there is a way to find a balance between a night out with friends and a night in being productive. Maybe I can find the perfect mix of introvert and extrovert tendencies to create a day that really works for me.
I want to listen to the songs that shaped me with new ears. I want to hear melodies in a new way and understand lyrics that flew over my tiny pigtails years ago.
It’s easy to get caught up in the spinning nature of daily lives – balancing work, side hustles, and general living. I have found, though, that in those moments of complete energy depletion, I’ll still be okay. I know how to make a plan. I can start where I am.
28. Bridge the Gap
It’s always going to be easier to stretch out the truth and point fingers at bookends. But what if we open the novel in the middle and realize that we need language from both sides? What if it wasn’t about blame or creating a gap?
29. Sit Still
Maybe giving yourself a moment to rest isn’t a crime, but a necessary act of grace. As I twirled into a peaceful rest, I could hear every part of my well-being whispering “thank you” against fluttering eye lashes.
I thought of everything that has led me to where I am – feeling safe and happy in this wildly bright city. And I thought of what it felt like to grow like ivy, spinning circles around old stone.
It does not matter what a person has done to you. You cannot use their actions as an excuse to hurt someone else.
32. Tell Your Story
I’m going to challenge you to join the ranks. You have something within you that can change the world. You have a story that makes something very real and very personal for everyone around you. I know it’s scary to open that box. I know it’s intimidating to start that conversation. But what if you did?
I get it. Our lives are busy and most people would rather see a movie with friends than clean the bathroom. But what if we could reframe things to make them a little more enjoyable, a little easier, and a little less like work.
It doesn’t matter how many times I organize my planner or try to strategize for my week or my day. It doesn’t matter how many lists I make or how many times I “feel” like I’m organized and accomplishing things. Some things are black and white. I either saw the movie or I didn’t. Having it written down 8 times in a planner doesn’t count.
I’ve held onto this inefficient mindset throughout my life. I feel like I’m being really productive when really I’m just filling my time with the empty calories of menial tasks. It’s easy to fill your days and still not get anything done.
My sweat-stained braids were a testament to the thing I love the most in the world. I came home and took a very overdue shower and as I sat at the edge of my bed, detangling knots from my hair, I thought about how lucky I was to be able to run and how beautiful it felt to have something that makes me feel strong and healthy and beautiful.
These are simply quick and easy hacks that take little to no time to implement but can snowball into profound impact.
38. Stop Listening
I’m done listening to anything that tells me I can’t. I’m done entertaining the voice of reason or the nagging idea that I might not be enough. I’m through wondering if it makes sense. I’m dreaming a little too big for that.
39. Get Some Sleep
I’ve tried to be especially mindful of what it means to listen to your body and rest when you are tired and for that reason, I am challenging all of you – not to go to bed early, but to figure out exactly what it is that works best for you.
40. Don’t Plan It
I love organization and I will always be a planner person… and that’s okay. At the same time, you need hours, days, and weeks, of nothingness. You deserve to wake up with the same thrill a 7-year-old has on the first day of summer. You deserve to start the day with excitement and you deserve to be totally enthralled with whatever comes from that potential.
41. Be Both
I could twirl in a sundress and later run through the rain, splattering mud up to my knees. I could be charm and chaos. I could have polished nails and messy hair and I could stop defining myself by antiquated stereotypes.
Today, I remembered that in moments where you almost want to falter, or curse the weather, or beat yourself up for forgetting to ice your knee (again), you have an entire crew of people (and strangers) in your corner.
I have a small stone I keep on my desk that I received from former colleagues at one of my first jobs in New York City. The stones say different words on them like “laughter” or “inspiration” or “journey.” I always thought of them as the “take what you need” signs where people include words like “hope” and “love” and then hang the sign in a public space so people can rip off what they need.
I held onto my stones for a long time. I took what I needed. And then, I passed them along. I gave “inspiration” to someone who inspires me and “laughter” to people who can always make me smile. Power remains on my desk for two reasons – first to remind myself that nobody can have unjust power over me and secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, to remind myself of the strength and courage that lies within me.
44. Do 1 Push-Up
Fifteen push-ups is a lot. So just do one. Right now, just do one push-up. One of my favorite psychological tricks is the “just do one” idea. Almost always, you’ll want to keep going. On days when I’m not sure I want to write, I make myself sit with my notebook for five minutes. If I can sit there for five minutes, I can almost certainly sit there for fifteen.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be defined by my worst 15 minutes. That said, I also don’t want to be seen as perfect by any stretch. While I try to be good person, I know there are many times where I fall short. I’m not as loving or as forgiving or as patient as I should be.
46. Opt Outside
At some point in this hectic holiday season, spend some time outside. Take yourself away from crowded shopping centers and frantic cookie baking and connect with nature.
47. Do Things Alone
Go to the movies by yourself. Heck, order a large popcorn while you’re at it. Use both arm rests and recline your chair if you’re in one of the fancy theatres. Try a new restaurant that you’ve been hearing good things about. You’re allowed to say “table for one.”
I had always associated young with stupid. I was certainly young and I might as well tack stupid to the case as well. What I had failed to account for, however, was how those two adjectives can live independently of one another. My friend was right. I was young. But I didn’t have to default myself to stupid as well.
Since that conversation, I’ve been catching myself in every moment where I want to hide and I’ve been trying to mindfully be aware that the year of my birth dictates no part of my capabilities.
There were people – beautiful, patient, loving people – who never, ever let me give up. The kind of people who will sit with you in silence when words feel too heavy and who will keep you from suffocating in your own fear. I am nothing without the people I call friends. I am nowhere without the support of those who love me.
It takes a certain level of bravery to try to uncover the true feelings behind something or the true reason for actions, but until you understand the idiosyncrasies of mind, I imagine there is not much you can do to alter it.