2017 was a year of challenges, both personal and professional. During its most difficult moments, it was far too easy to get emotionally and mentally stuck. Stuck in coping mode – of doing, while suppressing thoughts and feelings. Stuck in the moment – in negative feedback loops within my own head. Stuck in a rut – of feeling like things would never improve, no matter what I did.
But, that is to diminish many accomplishments. What I accomplished does not matter. The journey does. What I could not control, I let go of. Which, in itself, was empowering. What I could control, I set goals, identified tasks to accomplish them, and got to work.
Of course, I was not universally successful. Certain goals languished from lack of commitment and tending. Are these failures? I suppose. Or, perhaps they were not achievable, specific enough, or prioritized.
Year after year, my languishing goals are personal, not professional. Telling priorities, I suppose.
But, a powerful lesson I learned in 2017 is the concept to “begin again”. We will not always succeed or achieve. Our heart will not always be in it. Our motivation will fail us. Yet, we can always begin again. Such simple words., that gently invite resilience, persistence, and self-forgiveness.
Begin again encompasses recognizing that we have lost our way, returning to the moment, refocusing, and resuming. Whether picking up where we left off or starting over. Or even changing direction entirely.
All too often losing our way comes with feelings of failure and shame. Our expectations of ourselves are often higher than our expectations of others, which often sets ourselves up for failure. We are often harder on ourselves than of others, making personal failure all the more bitter. Sometimes resulting in giving up on one’s self.
Begin again leaves that behind. It recognizes from the start that we will lose our path. That the destination is known and desired, but the purpose is the journey. That straying from the path is expected, but the point is to return (and keep returning) to the path. It is about letting go and giving over, in the direction of and returning to the desired outcome. It is also about knowing when to let go entirely and begin again with a new destination in mind.
2018 is an opportunity to begin again. Rather than focusing on my failures as 2017 comes to a close, I am instead using this time to begin again. Identifying goals, deciding on specific and manageable tasks, choosing a word/theme to motivate and guide, prioritizing, and sharing with others for friendly accountability.
I look forward to 2018. Not as a clean slate, but to begin again. And, instead of focusing on failure, I end 2017 by returning to the path with renewed motivation and focus.
Best wishes as you begin again in 2018!