Like many others, I find the start of a new year an ideal time to reflect on my life and make some resolutions for myself. And, also like many others, those resolutions are often broken within hours of making them. For instance, this year I had committed to myself that I would blog everyday. Well, it is January 2 and this is my first blog post for 2011 so you see how that worked out for me…
This year I decided I would take a new approach to the new year. Rather than see it is an ending and a beginning, I decided to regard it as a continuum. We know that our lives are series of rhythmic cycles and, while the calendar may denote a hard beginning and hard stop, our bodies, minds and lives do not necessarily operate along those same parameters. However, as humans, we try to believe that we can have some control over the universe and attempt to look at these annual occurrences as an opportunity to define parameters for ourselves and control the outcomes. When you think about it, it really does not make sense. After all, January 1st is really not the best time to start a weight loss program. Your body is completely addicted to sugar, you are on an emotional roller coaster from just having spent endless amounts of time with your family and you are about to face the onslaught of the return to work after likely having been on vacation for a week or more. The chaos that you are about to endure is by no means an optimal time to start a diet. In fact, right around March or April is the more ideal time. The weather is warming up and we have spring and summer on our minds. We are highly motivated to shed our clothes and our excess weight. Mentally and physically we are far more aligned.
If we begin to focus on the rhythms of our life and not try to force ourselves into a structure that is not naturally or organically our own, we might find ourselves more successful with our goals. With that in mind, I have decided to not look at new beginnings but rather new endings. I don’t believe that we really know how to handle endings in our life. There is so much negativity attached to endings because we typically associate endings with something bad happening in our lives – death, divorce, loss of a job, end of a relationship, etc. But, in fact, sometimes the ending of something is actually a positive moment in our lives that we simply need to embrace. We may be uncomfortable with it because it was out of our control but it may be the universe making a necessary course correction for us that allows us to have a fresh start at something or forces us to look at things differently.
On a personal level, endings have always been particularly difficult for me because of my family life. My family was riddled with endings from the divorce of my parents, the abandonment by my father, the emotional turmoil and continual battles with my mother and siblings and, of course, the death of many relatives over the years. As a young adult, I was loathe to get into any type of long term relationship with anyone because I feared that they would eventually leave me and I simply did not know how to handle the loss and rejection that came along with that. It amazes no one more than me that I have managed to stay with my husband for nearly 19 years and we seem likely to stay together for many more years. But even with this continuity in my life, I still struggle with the stigma that I have associated with endings. I am so fearful of how I will survive when things end in my life and it often takes me a long time to see what the universe has in store for me or how the ending was, in fact, a very positive step in my life.
2010 was a period of many endings and many new directions for me. I started the new year in 2010 suffering from a very difficult professional ending and not able to see a path for me to take. I felt the darkness and heaviness that laid upon me and was blanketed in the fear of the unknown. I had never before been so paralyzed professionally and could not imagine how I would recover. But, of course, I did. And, what I could not see on January 1, 2010 was that the ending was one of the most important in my life. It was an ending that I would not have chosen for myself but was so necessary and was the only way I would be able to create a new professional pathway for myself. And, as a result, I am in a better place professionally on January 2, 2011 than I have ever been before. And, by the way, I am not so afraid of the unknown anymore.
2010 also marked a time for some emotional endings for me too. I terminated some relationships that were not working out so well for me and those were easy because I controlled the outcome there. The more difficult ones were the ones that ended surprisingly or abruptly without my ability to prepare and adjust. But, again, these are usually the most pivotal events in our lives because they force us into the abyss and allow us to summon up all the strength we have to look at ourselves very closely in the mirror, stare at all our wrinkles, fat and warts and find our courage and love ourselves. I endured one particularly challenging ending this year that I really thought was going to break me. It was a friendship that I had always imagined would last a lifetime. But what I was not paying attention to while I was focusing on the importance of the endurance was what was really important to me. I often allow myself to act as a chameleon and be the person that others need me to be. I don’t necessarily notice this happening but, upon reflection, see all the red flags and acknowledge that I feel into the trap. And, when I am not being authentically me, I fall into lots of other pitfalls and create relationships that are not genuine and sustainable. But, of course, I only realize that in hindsight. This year, the end of this particular relationship allowed me to see how I had been trapped into being someone that was so far removed from who I really am and want to be and how this behavior was truly making me unhappy. So, while the ending was not one that I chose, it was a gift to me because it allowed me to release my authentic self and live my life in a whole different way. I am happier and more at peace than I have been in a long time.
So, as I conform to our societal rituals of saying goodbye to one year and hello to another, I share with you my strategy. Endings are healthy and an important part of our lives. While they may not always feel good, they often yield the way for much more happiness and success in our lives. So, I embrace the continuum and commit myself to not resolve to make changes in my life starting January 1 but, instead, regularly check in and ensure that things are working out ok for me. I know I need to start a fitness regimen but I know that today is not the day. It might be next Thursday and I am committed to revisiting it then. Every day is a good to resolve to make your life better and be a better person but know that you also need to let go a bit and let the universe do its work.
Happy New Year!