Updated: Feb 4
What a roller coaster, 2020. Maybe it was a horrible year for you, maybe you grew despite the challenges thrown at you. Regardless of how we all came to this January, the important thing is, we made it through. And I think we all felt a deep sigh of relief when that 0 ticked to a 1.
2021. A fresh slate.
I’m from Minnesota, and there is nothing like when you wake up to find an innocent blanket of fresh snow outside your window. When you’re a kid, you shove on your boots, open the front door, and are transfixed by the absolute quiet of the falling flakes. You take a sharp breath in, filling your lungs with that frigid clear air, and you take the biggest jump you can into a perfect carpet of pure white.
That's what January 1 always feels like to me. A fresh snow dresses the world anew with purity & crisp air brings clarity to the mind. Enlivening, refreshing, motivating.
So. Before we jump feet first into an innocent new year, our souls brimming with anticipation that this simply has to be a better year than last...let’s take just a moment to acknowledge the messiness that we just walked through. The scattered remains of the life lived, now behind us.
Discontentment is the fuel for change. What was wrong with how you lived your 2020? Evaluate why you didn’t reach your goals. Maybe you had unrealistic expectations? Perhaps it’s your job, home life, your health that you put on hold for other things? Perhaps it's just long overdue for some change in your life. In any case, self-honesty is crucial.
Okay, don’t beat yourself up too hard. And be careful with self-pity. It’s not just unproductive, it’s dangerous.
You're standing at the front door, staring at those flakes. Honor this moment, this place, this breath...its sacred. Don't just dive in, believing this year will be better. Friend, this is the future you get to build. You and only you hold the reins to your own destiny.
Ask yourself what you want your 2021 to look like. I know it is uncomfortable, but you gotta give yourself room to grow.
Remember when you went to Famous Footwear with your mom every school year and she made you get the clunky big shoes that you tripped over? What did she tell you, as you looked in the mirror? "Don't worry, you'll grow into them".
And you sure did, didn't you? Acknowledge the awkwardness that needs to come from big clunky shoes. That awkwardness is your potential growth. You can't plan for what you don't make room for.
It's a scary question, but ask yourself, "What's my life vision?" Set some goals, six months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. Set goals that scare you! Goals that elevate your heart rate, that give you a rush, that make you come alive. Write them down, tell a friend...no, tell three friends. Accountability is important when the February excuses come.
You have permission to make changes to things in your life that are not healthy or are healthy but simply not YOU. Comparison is the thief of joy.
On that note, comparison never got anyone anywhere, but admiration has. Spend time with people who are better than you, ask them questions, take notes, buy them coffee; everyone loves coffee. Before you know it, they will rub off on you and you will have likely also gained a friend.
"Know thyself." -Socrates
Get to know your own personality, take a Strengths Finder test. Find out more about who you are, so you can set out ways to self actualize that dormant, dusty part of yourself.
Leverage your strengths, make friends with your weaknesses.
“Your life unfolds in proportion to your courage.” -LaPorte
It’s funny how often responsibility is the mask of fear. Read that again.
Fear of the unknown, so we bunker down, suffer through a dead-end job & live for the weekend. Fear of failure, so we don’t take risks like moving to a new place, trying a new job, or going back to school. Fear of the social norms of whatever this “life thing” is supposed to look like. Don’t fall prey to the idea you are pinned to your job, or even your degree.
You are a person, not a tree. Move.
Move into something that fits you, something you could dig your roots into.
And here's a thought with heavy implications: what if your dreams aren't just meant for you? What if I told you they were needed for the world? Your life does not exist in a vacuum, and your actions also have consequences for the rest of us. You owe it to your neighbor to be the best version of yourself you can be. This is not a drill. We need you. We need each other. If quarantine taught us anything, it is that we are social creatures and our dependency is also our strength.
If you only associate "adulting" with bills, waking up early, and being what our society calls “responsible”, it’s time to define it differently. This is YOUR LIFE, you only get one shot at this. You are doing this for your 75-year-old self. You better have some good stories to tell.
That's right! Jump in that fresh snow!
You’re allowed some “whoops”, or moments, some "well, that didn't work" moments...or better yet, some "I can't believe that DID work!" ones. Here's a novel idea: what if I told you that you are actually blind to opportunity standing right in your face, but fear of failure is clouding your vision?
What is that business idea you've always had, but been too scared to capitalize on? Where have you always wanted to live? Move to that new city. Worst case scenario: you hate it, and you can always move back. Or try the next town. Apply for the job you’re clearly under-qualified for. The worst they say is no, which is what your answer already is if you never lay it out on the line.
At some point, the fear of failure has to be outweighed by the fear of regret.
There is no wrong step. There are better steps than others, but get it out of your head that the best decision is always the most practical. Be brave, friend.
“For what it's worth: it's never too late...to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” -F Scott Fitzgerald-