“I know the January hype will die down. I know this journey won’t be linear. I know I’ll stumble and I’ll most definitely fall. But I won’t let that be an invitation to give up.”
11 January 2021
Every year, as I feel the end approaching, a specific kind of panic sets in. The faint remnants of the year gone come to me in a flash - the good, the bad, and the ugly. The things I wanted to do but couldn't, and the things I shouldn't have done but did. And each December, I promise myself: “The next year will be different. I will do better this time around.”
Many of you may be nodding your head reading this because you have done the same. Maybe in a different format - maybe you wrote intentions, maybe you printed out a habit tracker, or maybe you took to Twitter to call out how dumb new year's resolutions are.
I have been all these people at different stages of my life. I have spent hours colouring in beautiful flowers in my daily planner, that time 100% sure I was gonna use it (I didn't).
I have also fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole, watching the hundreds and thousands of ‘life coaches’ doling out advice on intentional living. And when all of it failed to keep me on track (which I knew would happen), I vented on social media. I called it a hoax and "resolved" never to try again.
But year after year, despite the failures staring at me with their insidious eyes, my heart wells with hope. You can do better, it whimpers. It tells me to set ambitious goals, to stretch beyond the limits of what I thought was possible. It tells me to be bold: to send those pitches, to compliment the writers I admire on Twitter, to wear that pretty dress, and to ask for more without feeling like a fraud.
A better life calls and I answer. I send 5 pitches, reach out to writers whose work makes me weep, wear the lovely saving-for-another-time pants, and tell my clients I’m raising my rates.
But I don’t stop there. Because I know the January hype will die down. I know this journey won’t be linear. I know I’ll stumble and I’ll most definitely fall. But I won’t let that be an invitation to give up.
Instead, I make a plan. A solid, action-oriented, identity-based habits plan.
I develop a system for pitching and writing that will keep me going long after my motivation wanes. I sign up for social events far into the future so I’m not hiding in my bedroom when the dark winters roll around. I hide my nightdress at the back of my closet so I’m not tempted to grab it first thing in the morning. I also come up with a template to ask for a yearly raise.
Now, when the rosy glory of the new year fades and the harsh realities of life jam themselves in my face, I won’t have to rely solely on my willpower to push me through to the other side. This time, I will have developed systems, habits, behaviours, deeply ingrained patterns to - not just survive through what 2021 brings - but thrive.
You don’t have to believe in the "New Year's Resolutions" to make a solid self-improvement plan. In fact, it's these labels that cause disruption.
Call it intention setting, business planning, or a life audit - as long as it puts things in perspective for you, the names are irrelevant. What's important is you setting aside time to rethink your life strategy.
This is especially important after a year like 2020, that ridiculously upended everything we knew about life. Schools closed and economies collapsed. Healthcare workers suffered and forests burned. Many had to fight for bread while losing their loved ones to this never-ending plight.
We can’t undo what happened but we can hope for a better tomorrow. It’s that hope that keeps me going. It’s the hope that wakes me up in the morning counting my blessings, cherishing every human and opportunity I encounter.
You can let life pass you by, or you can decide to make a change today. Time will pass anyway, regardless of your choice. Next year will be here before you know it and you'll find yourself thinking: I hope I can do better next time. As for me, I will always choose hope.