2016 was yet another year of transition (things are always changing over here or so it seems!) I'm thankful though, because despite the constant adjusting, there was so much good. Among the highlights: I left my full-time job, started working for myself again, gave birth to the cutest baby boy, got published for the first time in a really long time, started a discipleship group at church with Musa and accepted a speaking engagement despite being terrified about it (more on that later). Most importantly, I'd like to think I learned a lot more about who God is and who I am in Him this year. I am beyond grateful.
Now, as I eagerly await the beginning of a brand new year, I realize there are some things I don't want to take with me when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2016. I know I'm going to have to enter this year with a little less baggage and a lot more courage if I'm going to chase my dreams, so here's what's on my list to leave behind:
1. Expectations of where I should be + what I should have accomplished by now
I'm looking at you New York City, unsecured book deal and size 6 jeans (who am I kidding, I'd settle for size 8 jeans in a heartbeat.) Every day, I'm reminded of who I am not. The voices in my head tell me I've failed miserably at creating the life I want for myself, that I'm not good enough and that I'll never measure up to who I'm supposed to be. It's easy enough to believe (they're pretty convincing the little liars), but a trip down that rabbit hole will inevitably result in self-pity, which distracts me from the business of actually living and thriving. In 2017, I want to be where my feet are and own the life I'm living instead of beating myself up about not being far along enough.
Of trying, of failing, of not trying, of anything less than perfect. Seriously when did I stop taking risks?! Somewhere along the way, I became afraid of what used to excite me. I started worrying more and creating less. I talked myself out of trying too hard because of fear of rejection. I thought it I couldn't do it perfectly, I shouldn't do it at all. More and more though, I find myself standing on the edge of the pool wanting so badly to jump in the deep end, but I'm scared. Maybe I can swim, but how will I know if I stay on the sidelines or if I wait until everything lines up perfectly? I let fear stop me from putting myself out there this year. Next year, I want to do it scared and imperfectly, but most of all, I just want to do it.
A dear friend of mine once told me she believes envy is one of the best teachers. When we begin comparing ourselves to others, it is a sign that some longing within us is unfulfilled. We are discontent. Perhaps we're unsure of who we are or where we're going. Maybe life gets tough so we start to question the process. There's a scripture in the Bible that says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28, ESV)." It means that everything in my life is purposeful. No matter where I find myself, I have the assurance that because of who I am in Jesus, my circumstances will work out for my good and God's glory. With that kind of guarantee, there's no need to look at someone else and think I'm getting the short end of the stick. I can rest in knowing that I'm right where I should be, even when it doesn't look that way. In 2017, I want to trust God fully with my story and stop comparing myself to everyone else.
4. Dreams without goals
I'm what you'd call a chronic dreamer. Nothing gets me excited like a big idea or a challenge. I absolutely love planning. I get motivated by doing what people say is impossible. The problem is my discipline to get things done in my personal life can't quite keep up. I can create a strategic plan to accomplish almost any objective in my sleep - heck, I do it for a living! - but when it comes to planning my own life, I'm lazy and disorganized. In 2017, I don't want to be frustrated by unrealized dreams. I heard Denzel Washington (now affectionately known as Uncle Denzel by the interwebs) say this in a video gone viral today:
"Understand this. You have these dreams ... and dreams without goals remain dreams. Just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment ... Goals on the road to achievement cannot be achieved without discipline and consistency. Between goals and achievement are discipline and consistency."
How right you are Uncle Denzel. Let this be the year that I try and work as hard as I dream.
Perhaps you can relate?
This is our year, yours and mine. Let's decide right now that regardless of what happens in 2017, this will be the year we let go of whatever is holding us back. Whether it's internal or circumstantial, let's cut loose whatever is keeping us from living abundantly, trusting God fully and loving others recklessly.
Happy New Year!