So the New Year has just begun (Happy New Year everyone!) and already my life is filling to overflowing! Moving, trips, goals, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries and on it goes. I am a list maker and so when I sat down to create my list of goals and all the known events and activities, like I do every year, I had an instant panic attack. All new year with the same old anxiety…
Any one else approach each new year with utter fear and panic? Well, stop it. (That’s what I told myself too). There are 365 days in a year and unless we have actually managed to fill each and every one of them on our calendars already, we have plenty of time. (If you have, filled all your days I mean, then kudos to you as that in itself is a real accomplishment!)
Sometimes we get tunnel vision and only see the small details. That is what causes the panic. If I look just at my list of events, activities and goals it can be overwhelming. There is so much already on it! When I pull back though and see the whole picture of my year ahead, that list becomes minuscule and very manageable. It is a list with a finite number of items on it that spreads out over the whole year. There is plenty of time when I use it well.
Here is how I am going to manage this year and keep the panic at bay. First, the events that already exist are going to be put on the calendar. These are the things like moving date, celebrations and appointments. Getting them on the calendar now keeps me from double-booking myself. There is very little more stressful than either trying to be more than one place at a time while not having the time to enjoy each event or having to tell someone that you cannot be there. I know that I hate disappointing someone else. I bet many of you do too. The thought of it absolutely makes me squirm!
The next thing I am going to do is look at my goals. The goals are the big picture of what I want. I will want to break them down into steps and give them a reasonable timeline. That allows me to put deadlines (horrible, stress-inducing term) on those steps so that I am always doing something to achieve them and move forward.
This process is definitely a bit more fluid, within reason. As I have a penchant for procrastinating when I get overwhelmed, stressed or lost, I cannot give myself too many outs. The deal is, as long as I am doing something to achieve those goals most days, the due date can be moved.
Things happen and plans don’t always come together the way we would like them to do so there needs to be some forgiveness in the process of setting up timelines. Rigidity causes stress. Life happening, of course, is much different from being unnecessarily busy and making excuses. I have found it to be true that: If you find yourself making excuses and being too busy, it is time to challenge how much that goal really means to you and adjust your year accordingly.
I have, from time to time, had to truly assess why something is a goal for me. If it is something I think I have to do to be normal, please someone else, or live up to something I said/shared, it does not belong in my goals any longer. As a lifelong people-pleaser working towards recovery, I still find myself doing things that I do not enjoy. “No” is not natural to my vocabulary, but I am working at being better with it. It is a worthwhile process.
An example of one of the things that I have reassessed is my career path. Once upon a time I believed I wanted to own a Wellness Spa. I had the vision board and goals all lined up. Every step was accurately scheduled and defined. Then the excuses and busy work kept coming. At some point I realized I was not passionate about this goal anymore. I was resetting deadlines repeatedly. I was not procrastinating because I did not believe in my ability to achieve it. It was about not really knowing why I wanted to do it at all. I realized that I had become fearful of what my life was going to look like if I did achieve it! A true wake-up call!
Some honest soul-searching revealed that I was not passionate about owning a brick and mortar wellness business. What I was passionate about was the designing of it. I loved picking out the elements that would go into the spa. I loved creating packages that would best help people create peace and wellbeing. I loved teaching people how to take care of themselves and seeing them turn their lives around! What I did not love was the day-to-day running of it all. I did not love the routine of it. I really didn’t like the administrative part of it all. It turns out I love the things that allow me to be creatively helping others! That realization is making big changes in my life as I now am making much different choices. (That is how this blog was born.)
The importance of sharing that part of my journey is to help you realize, your dreams can and do change. We don’t have to hold on to things that do not bring us joy and fulfillment. That is why reassessment is a great tool. It allows us to step back and see the whole picture. It allows us to take stock of our behavior and get honest with ourselves. Change of plans is not failure. It is success when we realize we may have taken a wrong turn somewhere and we can correct our course to head in the best direction to fulfill who we truly are and want to be in this life.
So, now my new year has been de-stressed for the moment. My calendar is being filled in with events and activities. I am in the process of breaking my goals down into realistic small steps with scheduled due dates. It is allowing me to have things to look forward to as my year progresses. I have also been scheduling spaces of time that are for “nothing”. These are the days I can go for a hike, sleep in, read a book, play in my kitchen, among other things. Scheduling this time is important as we do need time to rest and recharge so we do not burn out. It is also important that we make these times in our schedules non-negotiable, short of emergencies. We all need time for resting and recharging.
I would love to hear what’s on your calendar that you are looking forward to this year! Please share in the comments both challenges and successes. Also, if anyone has a better/more positive term than “deadline” I would love to know it! It would be great to have a less stress-inducing term for my planning.
Wishing everyone a wonderful 2023 full of peace, joy and fulfillment!