Three days remain until the new year. Three more mornings to wake up and seize the day before the calendar page turns and I’m off on the new adventure that will be 2011.
I have a list of goals and visions and intentions for the new year: changes I want to make, mistakes I wish to correct and habits I hope to improve. I am painfully aware of the things I did wrong or left unfinished, the good intentions I didn’t follow through on, and it’s easy to get frustrated over my shortcomings.
But I’m trying to resist. “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” I frequently find myself telling my son, who is far more demanding of himself than he is of others, and far more critical of his own mistakes. “You need to remember all the right choices you’ve made, and all the successes you’ve had, all the good things you’ve already accomplished.” So in that spirit, I’m taking a little time to appreciate a few things I did right in the past year.
1. I remembered to be grateful.
The past few years have kicked my ass in a lot of painful ways. In a life ruled by trial and error, I’ve found myself on the “error” side of the fence far more often than I’d like – and some days it was hard to come up with the energy and the will for one more trial. Loss and grief have darkened my door.
But even on the worst days, the bright spots were there when I took a moment to look for them. I have work I love. Good people have gone out of their way to help and instruct me. I have beautiful, healthy children. My family supports me in so many ways. And though I cannot imagine what I have done to deserve them, God keeps blessing me with extraordinary friends.
2. I spoke up.
After decades of mealy-mouthed, spineless, nice-girl waffling, I stood my ground a few times this year. I’m still a beginner, and it was scary as hell, but once my heart stopped pounding I loved the feeling of knowing I stuck up for my convictions or insisted on my fair share.
3. I kept my mouth shut.
The flip side of the “nice-girl” curse is a tendency towards passive aggression, codependency and control issues. This year, I started working on all of these. I said nothing when I wanted to tell my loved ones exactly what they were doing wrong and how if they just listened to me and did what I said everything would be better. It was hard – really, really hard. But to my astonishment, everyone managed just fine even without the benefit of my micromanagement.
4. I didn’t let fear stop me.
I’ve been dreaming big for a few years now. First I dreamed of publication. Then I dreamed of writing as a career. Now I have an entirely new set of dreams – bold, audacious, outrageous dreams that leave me breathless and terrified.
But I didn’t get this far by turning away when things got scary. I said “Absolutely!” when what I was feeling was “I have no idea if I can pull this off.” I claimed to be the woman for the job even when I didn’t know the first thing about it. If you happen to see me somewhere in 2011 with a grim and frightened look on my face, odds are that I am silently chanting I-can-do-this-I-can-do-this-I-can-do-this as I step into the unknown yet again.
5. I found time for exercise.
It’s the one non-negotiable in my routine. Everything else may fall to pieces: I may lose sleep, live on potato chips, yell at my kids and cry in meetings, skip showers and forget appointments and let the house go to the dogs – but several times a week I’ll be hiking the hills or sweating on the stepper. I can’t do my job if my body fails me, and since exercise has been proven even more effective at mood management than anti-depressant medication, it’s the best wellness bargain around.
What about you? Share something you did right in the past year, one habit or accomplishment you’re proud of. One commenter will win a beautiful big red Moleskine journal to record your thoughts in 2011. (If you’ve never had a Moleskine journal, you don’t know what you’re missing!)