I remember when the days between Christmas and New Year’s were focused on one thing: New Year’s Eve. Parties mostly. The occasional off the beaten path dive or Irish bar (or Irish dive bar). Then came kids. And with them the end of end of the year celebrations.
My kids don’t get the notion of one year ending and another beginning. They get it in terms of a calendar but not in terms of looking ahead to 12 months of uncharted territory and unkept resolutions. With New Year’s Eve on a Tuesday this year, it is just really sneaking in there, uneventful as ever. Except I’ll let them blow noisemakers for a few minutes before bed.
Part of me doesn’t care to make anything out of the end of 2013. I’m tired. But I shouldn’t miss the opportunity to set up the starting blocks to 2014 so I can come out of the gate with, at the very least, the best intentions.
This past year, my mantra was “everything is an opportunity.” It worked well; at times when things didn’t go as I had imagined, I justified that it brought me SOMETHING in exchange. Not the desired result, but some useful knowledge, insight, or maybe just a really inspiring conversation with a new friend. I may have missed the intention but I gained something in return.
I needed that mantra. One of the reasons I left my job almost a year ago was that I feared getting too comfortable. I was worried that complacency and stagnancy would set in. In this year since I’ve embarked on a new work adventure, I continue to have no regrets but I’ve had plenty of self-doubt. I think I’ve done a lot of things wrong and I know I didn’t do some things I probably should have. Fear of failure – you know the drill. If I were to keep score, I’d say I probably fell short more than hit any goals. It’s a complicated algorithm to track, but if I look back at the last year, I found myself saying: “That didn’t work” more than a recovering Type A like myself would like to. It was enough to make me sum up the year as a whole as “a mistake.” Having my mantra helped. But as the year closes, I realize I need another tool for propulsion.
Then it dawned on me. I was folding a blanket, the way I always fold a blanket because I like the bed made. I can make it look neat. The bed can declare I’ve got things under control. I like feeling that way. And I haven’t really been feeling that way all year, since I changed the path of my career. I knew it was going to be an uncomfortable change. The challenge of this past year was the unknown. What I hadn’t realized was that I was the unknown. I was the one who had to be figured out. And it was only through embracing this challenge – for growth, creative satisfaction, material for the blog – that I realized I first had to reckon with me. I was getting in my own way so easily. I was still letting big ideas float in the distance instead of finding the small steps that brought me closer to them. It was a pretty big a-ha moment.
So I need a mantra to go with it.
A simple phrase: something I can play on an endless loop in my mind that empowers me. Bonus points if it can be set to a Yaz track. (“Don’t go” and “Move out” are catchy, but don’t really speak to what I need out of a mantra.)
It has to be always relevant, in good times and bad. It has to be constant, against which I can measure any experience. It can’t leave things to chance (“everything is an opportunity” is a definitive statement while “Ya never know what’s gonna happen” is completely relinquishing your destiny to others’ will). It can’t be defeatist (“What can possibly go wrong?” and “Things are never as bad as they seem” are couched in the negative so let’s not go there). And I have to f*ckin’ believe it to be true. (“Find the joy in the every day” just ain’t gonna happen.)
I would love your suggestions. Or just to hear what works for you. Please add your mantras in the comments and have a terrific transition to the new year!