2017 was quite a year... For many of us it had some very great highs as well as significant lows. With the start of any new year, I find that people look at this blank slate as a time to refine who they are. Whether the tweaks they seek to make are small or life changing, New Years resolutions are always a large topic of discussion.
However, at the tail end of 2017 I decided that I was going to stick to my new found tradition of not making any resolutions. My mantra became “New Year. Same me. Stay classy...stay extra.” Some people have laughed when I’ve told them & others have been shocked. “There’s nothing you want to change? You don’t want to focus in on any goals?!” No. I think that mindset is key and that the approach you have on day 1 should be something you can maintain till day 365.
On NYE 2016 I decided I was done with New Years resolutions. Rather, I decided to make a list of all the thinks I was going to do differently in the coming year(s):
- Cut out all the negative people in my life
- Focus on self-care & development
- Be courageous & seize every opportunity
- Choose to not hate, but seek to love
- Focus on my faith
Working to adhere to these “rules” and a shift in mindset was much harder than I thought it would be. Yet, they proved to make a year full of struggles surprisingly beautiful as well.
1. Cut out all the negative people from your life
I made it it a priority to remove all the stress inducing, toxic and churlish individuals for my life last year. This rule may seem very simple, but can sometimes be hard to stick to when some of the people closest to you are the ones doing the damage. However... During 2017, I fell very ill a few times, and in the midst of those tough months I was cared for by some of the best people that I know. I finally understood what people meant by finding the friends that stick by you in the toughest of circumstances. Selfless love & care is truly a beautiful thing. So hang onto the people that matter in this life, forgetting about all the rest.
2. Focus on self-care & development
This rule encompasses all of the get fit and stay healthy goals people typically like to set for themselves...but I decided to take it one step further so to speak. I thought of 2017 as a time for deep introspection. I believe that it is important to know yourself and to love who that person is. Comparison is the source of unhappiness, so focusing on the traits that make you uniquely wonderful and playing to them is your best bet for happiness.
Meanwhile, acknowledge your weakness, work on them, and be proud of yourself for putting in the work to be well rounded. It’s at this time of the year that people like to focus on their physical health (especially after all that holiday food). But I think it is important to also address our emotional, mental, intellectual and social health with the same level of intensity throughout the year as well. Stay informed & grow yourself. We all age, pounds come and go, but the one think that can never be taken away from you is your mind. Your education and intelligence. I found last year that the more I worked to become a well rounded person, the more I saw self-respect & self-love falling into place.
3. Be courageous & seize every opportunity
This was probably my favorite rule for last year. In maintaining 100% honestly, I can’t say I seized EVERY opportunity, but I did try my best and made amazing memories because of it. I feel incredibly blessed that last year I was able to travel to NYC (twice), took a road trip to Nashville with some of my best friends, worked on my own start-up, traveled through Europe, met new & amazing people, started a new job with that allows me to travel, and ate some of the best food of my life. All of this was possible - in part - because I chose to say ‘yes’ more often then ‘no’.
4. Choose to not hate, but seek to love
Now I’m sure many of you were equally if not more pained than me with the suffering, hatred, bigotry, racism, & violence that occurred all throughout last year. When tensions are high and discrimination meets you in nearly every aspect of your life, it is hard not to become bitter. But I do believe that love will always overpower hatred.
Last year I graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and while those were a great four years of my life...they were also were the four years where I experienced some the most overt discrimination. Then upon entering into the “real world” and corporate America I realized that university had only been a mild prelude. In both professional as well as social environments, I have been overlooked because I am a woman, silenced because of my age, and mistreated because of the color of my skin. It’s enough to make anyone angry, but I’ve chosen to love & I’m glad I did.
Growing up, my mother used to tell us kids that anger is like cancer to the body. Learning to love regardless of what people say and do to you only sets your souls free. I’m not saying you’ll never get mad in life or that you should bottle things in. Vent, yell, address you emotions head on. But I admonish you...do not bear malice. Because when you ruminate on your anger I promise that you will feel pain in the long-run while the wrong-doer is going through their own life carefree.
5. Focus on my faith
At the beginning of last year my faith was severely lacking. I had a general understanding of what I did and did not believe in...but in some ways I made compromises on my core values. As my final rule/goal for last year, this proved to be the toughest of them all. There were times last year when I had to ‘forgo’ opportunities and relationships that did not align with my beliefs or the person that I want to be. These events were the strongest test of will that I’ve had to face in my nearly 23 years of life. To some they might have seemed insignificant, but to me... I think the strongest demonstration of character is to stay strong and be steadfast even when the world wants to pull you in various directions.
Faith is often a controversial topic, and it is also a very personal one. Yet, I believe that everyone believes in something, clings to something, and seeks purpose from something. Knowing what it is you draw purpose from in this new year might just help you to align your priorities as it helped me align/stick to mine.
I know that this post has been quite different from what is normally found on my blog, but I think that the conversation of mindset is important as we dive further into 2018. The life practices I set for myself last year have served me pretty well so far, and I think that by working towards them in this new year I can become more of the person that I want to be. The parameters, rules, and goals you set for yourself might mirror mine or could look vastly different. Nevertheless, I encourage anyone who finds themselves at the end of this post to take stock of the person that they are today, consider the person that that want to be, and make the appropriate perspective/paradigm shifts to work towards breaching that gap.
I’m excited for all that is in store for 2018 (I think it’s going to be a pretty epic year) and hope that you’ll join me making the best of each and every single day!