Over the past week my friends and I have been talking about the upcoming new year. We’re not going to repeat the same actions we did last year that made us miserable, no siree, this year everything will change for the better. This year we will make all of our dreams come true! I’ve come to realize that we say this every single year. We may not have met all of our goals last year, but by golly, this year will be different!
I’m not saying that every year is a dud. Not by any means. Our tendencies may just be to focus on what we feel we haven’t done instead of on what we actually did.
I remember sometimes in the past, when I would share my frustrations about life, people would try to point out some of my accomplishments, and I would say well, those don’t count, or that didn’t take as much effort as you think, or that wasn’t the goal I intended. In other words, I wrote my positive actions off as anomalies or accidents, while all of my failures or negative actions were of course my fault and made my big goals unreachable.
One example: When I went back to school and got a college degree, because I was still in a career that I didn’t enjoy, I didn’t truly celebrate my success of graduating from college. Instead, I kept looking at what was still missing in my work life.
Every year we create huge goals for ourselves and then kick ourselves for not exceeding them. But it seems to me that changes that take place in our lives don’t happen all at once. Instead, change consists of small actions and decisions we make every day, which lead us on a path that may eventually lead us to great victories. So we need to take the time to celebrate the small wins, conquer the occasional defeats, and learn new lessons. Our paths towards reaching our goals may lead to stumbles, mistakes, sadness and losses along the way, as we say goodbye to old habits, old situations that aren’t beneficial, and relationships that are not healthy. Sometimes growth is painful. Sometimes we must lose to gain. But if we are on the right path, it will lead us to where we need to be.
Sometimes our dreams may not end up looking like we thought they would; they can be completely different or even better than we could have ever imagined. This is why it’s important to focus more on the journey than on the destination.
I’m sure everyone’s goals are pretty similar. They revolve around spirituality, love, health and career. And I’m pretty sure another year will go by when we are not size 2s and our jobs are frustrating and people are being human and hurting each other. And we will again say, next year will be better – I will be a size 2 and my relationships will be perfect and I’ll be famously known for my social work skills and my blogs will be read by millions.
Or, more realistically, maybe I’ll lose a few pounds and feel healthy; maybe I will have comforted a few people in my new career as a hospice social worker; maybe I will be a good friend to someone, and maybe a blog I write will touch one person. Any of these things will make my year a success.
Many of us are not exactly where we want to be today. If we take small steps, in any direction, we may not be in our perfect place, but we won’t be where we were before. And that will be enough. Because most of our lives are spent on the journey, and not on that one final big explosive “I’ve arrived” moment. I don’t imagine that moment will take place until that day when I’ve arrived in heaven.
This year, I will try to count my blessings and celebrate small accomplishments. I will look at what is there and not what is missing. I will dream for more, but will appreciate what is there.
HERE ARE MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS FROM 2018, SMALL AS THEY ARE, AND MY GOALS FOR 2019. WHAT ARE YOURS???
Things I accomplished in 2018:
- I read 4 more books than I read in 2017.
- I learned some healthier eating habits and found a walking routine that was working.
- I found a job that is fulfilling.
- I moved on from some relationships that were not healthy for me.
- I simplified, moved to a condo.
- I volunteered at my church.
Things I hope to accomplish in 2019 in no particular order (note that I’ve tried to make these goals workable by keeping them specific, measurable, attainable and realistic). And because I wrote them down, they may happen!
- Read at least 14 books (at least one more than last year)
- Eat healthier and continue walking, add an exercise class
- Learn more about hospice social work and how to serve people better
- Complete direct supervision for my clinical license
- Find an interesting community or church project to become passionate about
- Find or create a social group with a shared interest
- Study the bible daily
- Pray every morning
- Express gratitude
- Travel to a new destination (or revisit England)
- Find ways to be in nature more (and to take photos)
- Be a good friend and develop healthy relationships (personally and professionally)
- Write at least 3 hours per week – blog, book or other projects
- Continue working on my spirituality and my relationship with God
- Seek God’s will in everything I do and make sure it’s His plan and not mine (His plans tend to work out better!)