In my last post, I tried to make the case for reflection. I closed by summarizing 2019 in one word (balance) and choosing a word to embrace in 2020. The word I chose for this new year/decade was “optimize.” And I have to confess, after sitting with it for a couple weeks, it’s just not the word for me.
“Optimize” suggests that there’s an ideal way, and I’ve spent much of the last decade trying to loosen my grip on the idea that there’s a single best approach to anything. So as I sat with that word, I realized that what I actually meant was “improve.” And that – while I always hope to improve aspects of my self or my life – it’s not the energy I want to surround myself with for the next ten years.
So here we are. I have a new word – one that came up in multiple conversations with friends and then solidified itself during yoga: INTEGRATE. I want to work to take all the various things I’ve learned and am learning, and find a way to pull them all together in the perfectly messy package that is me.
I share this NOT because I think you care what my actual word is, but rather to share a few lessons that took me a long time to learn:
1. Listen to yourself and trust your gut. That is, unless the voice you’re hearing sounds oddly like a middle school bully and is trying to put you down – in which case you might want to work on cultivating your inner-mentor instead of your inner critic!
2. It’s FINE to change your mind. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stuck with terrible decisions because I was too proud, too invested, or too stubborn to admit I was wrong or change my mind. No more.
3. No one cares, anyway. This is the big one… so often we do or don’t do things because we’re worried about what other people will think. NEWSFLASH: most people are so focused on their own issues that you’re not even a blip on their radar. And if you ARE, then if they actually care about you, they want you to be happy, so they’ll support you. Obviously this isn’t really relevant when it comes to choosing a word, but I’ve found it holds true for much, MUCH bigger decisions too.
Don’t believe me on that last one? Let me offer up two examples (which I’ve been granted permission to share, provided I omit their names and identifying details):
Example 1: My friend who stayed in an unhealthy marriage because she thought the neighbors would gossip? It took exactly two weeks for them to find a hot new topic. She stayed in a bad situation for eight painful years for a concern that was resolved in less than 14 days.
Example 2: My former client who couldn’t bring herself to quit an impossibly stressful job because she didn’t want people to view her as a quitter? She got laid-off (and it turns out, people were supportive, not judgmental about that), found a job that was better suited to her strengths, and ended up getting rapidly promoted for doing something she loves. Her biggest regret? Waiting to get laid-off instead of throwing in the towel.
OK. So here’s me, wrestling with my imperfections, giving myself permission to change my mind, and working to integrate it all into something that serves me – far from optimal, but a LOT more authentic.
Now let me toss it to you: What do YOU need to give yourself permission to do?