12 New Chapters to Write, 365 More Stories to Tell

The first day of the new year was spent cleaning and organizing – not necessarily my intention, but I have this thing about not being able to pack for a trip until my house is clean, my room is spotless, and my laundry is all done, folded, hung up. Having everything in order feels like a clean slate, and gives me peace of mind that I’m not going to forget to pack something. It’s all where it should be.

Life, however, is not always that clean cut. It’s a lot messier; it’s not nearly as easy to wrangle together all the bits and pieces. I was talking to a friend earlier today about reasonable goals for the new year, and organizing our lives was mentioned. It got me thinking how difficult of a task that is, the biggest reason being all of life’s intangibilities.

Varying degrees of motivation, confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, drive… ever-changing needs, wants, dreams, hopes, desires… listening to, searching for, or holding onto our inner voice, inner strength, inner peace… the list could go on forever. When you start to dive down that rabbit hole, it’s actually surprising that we all carry on day-to-day with any kind of focus. But, we’re complex creatures who have somehow (for the most part) figured out how to manage all of that and more. Every day we set aside personal lives to focus on professional work; we set aside our own needs for the needs of our family; and sometimes, even though most don’t like to talk about or admit it, we set aside others needs and opinions for our own wellness. Now why do you think that last one is so much more taboo?

Selfishness has this negative connotation associated with it, which I find ridiculous. And if you talk to any doctor or mental health specialist, they will tell you that caring for yourself should be a priority. It shouldn’t be something you hide or feel ashamed of because, well, think about it honestly for a moment:  how can we give our best to, our friend, our family members, or our profession if we are not putting ourselves first? This is a common mindset at my company and it’s one that I’ve taken to heart. Even more so in the coming year, but that’s a topic for another post.

I’m not claiming to understand anyone else’s life, the pressures they feel, the demands that pull them in a million directions. Quite the opposite actually. No matter what you think you see, or what you assume about someone, you’re likely wrong. Simply because, you are not them. You only know what they tell you, and it’s human nature to keep some things close to the vest, so you’re never going to know anyone’s entire heart, or mind, and certainly not their soul. We empathize with one another, we cherish the connections we do have with other individuals, and we support each other in times good and bad, Humanity is awesome in those ways, but we are far from perfect, and we can never fully understand life through another’s eyes. And that’s okay.  

I think that’s a good thing to remember as we start writing this next book, entitled 2019. Some of us have a strict outline of the adventures we want to have over the next year, and some of us are looking at the future the way I look at my house before I pack… as a blank slate. Many of us fall somewhere in between. You might think that I fall into that regimented schedule I first mentioned, but you’d be wrong. While the schedule is absolutely a tool I couldn’t imagine navigating my life without, it’s really just that, a tool. An important tool that helps me plan. I utilize it because I want to experience as much as possible every day, week, month, year… really, in my lifetime. And that’s just about impossible if I”m not writing it all down as it’s coming at me. That said, I learned a very important lesson about 3 years ago… I learned to make plans, but not expectations.

It’s crucial that we remain flexible enough to leave room for those unexpected moments, that we are willing to bend and sway if an opportunity presents itself, that we learn how to balance work and play, and certainly, that we don’t forget to take care of ourselves. We have to be able to change and adjust as life happens around us. It’s like time, constantly moving and never waiting on us.

If you’re still reading this, I’m guessing it’s because on some level you value my opinion… so with that I’ll leave you with one relatively simple piece of advice for 2019: make a concerted effort to  live in the moment whenever you can, because as fun as the countdown is on New Year’s Eve, you’ll miss out on a lot of amazing life moments right in front of you if you’re only looking ahead to the next best thing.