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There’s something about January that gets people’s knickers in a bunch. I think it’s the New Year’s resolutions, goals and objectives that throw people off course. I’ve heard more people say that they are depressed, stressed or in some type of funk over the last few weeks than I’ve heard of in the last six months combined.
I wanted to write about it last week, unfortunately, my cat’s ridiculous behavior usurped that space and I needed to blow off some steam, but nonetheless, it has been heavy on my mind.
January symbolically represents a new beginning; a new fiscal year begins, we start new budgets; everything is new and refreshed, except us. We get on our grind to stick to our resolution or meet our goals — and we won’t stop until we reach them or die trying.
Let’s be clear, I am not that different and often find myself on the hamster wheel. I am constantly making that mental checklist throughout the year: I’ve got to get x amount in client receipts and/or new clients, I have to get at least 3 articles published, I have to keep up my Executive Platinum Status on American Airlines (don’t laugh, for those of us who are frequent travelers, we know the importance of free first class worldwide upgrades for the price of a dirt cheap coach ticket), I have to… you name it, I just have to do it. I am that Alpha Girl. I could drive myself crazy with all my “have-to’s.”
The only things I “have to” do is pay taxes, get old and die, precisely in that order. We’ve all heard that one from our mothers, but if you marinate on it, it actually makes a lot of sense. It frees us up to actually think about being present for life’s journey, which is really what is important.
I decided to redefine my “have-to” list: What I have to do is thank God on the regular for my blessings. What I have to do is affirm the positive and remind myself that the devil is a liar when worry, doubt and fear creep in my mind. What I have to do is sit down in the morning and meditate on all of the above. And when I approach it from that perspective, I begin to let go and let God.
To prove my point, I will replay my “have-to” list and my responses to myself (in parentheses): Looking at my accounts receivables from 2010, “Nice job, Lisa” (but in ’11, I “have to” make 20% more!); “I have an article being published in the American Bar Association’s book, but wait, I still “have to” get an article published in blah blah magazine” (break out the rolodex STAT); “Oh my God, I “have to” fly another 100,000 miles to keep my status, but I don’t have one trip planned” (uh, Lisa, it’s only January, relax). My head was about to pop off.
I quickly remembered the seeds that I’ve planted and remember that I am well-positioned to meet these goals. And honestly, will my life collapse if I fall short of my “have-to’s,” in spite of my best efforts? No, they are goals and objectives, not guarantees.
As we strive to meet our goals, it is important to stay open to God’s plan for us, which may be totally different than our plan. You know the adage, “The surest way to make God laugh is to have your own plan?” Well, that always reminds me to let go and let God. I connect with God through prayer and meditation, which helps me try to listen to God’s voice. It is important, yet not always easy, to have God time in the morning. There you can listen, set your intentions, meditate on God’s favor, while giving thanks for infinite blessings. If meditation or prayer is too much, how about this: “Thank You God for your favor and please help me enjoy the journey.” It can be as simple as something like that.
It’s important to remember that life is a journey, it’s an adventure, yet we forget to enjoy ourselves in the process. Just that day, I got so mired with work, I lost sight of all the fun I have on my journey to meet my goals. I forgot that I love my job, I forgot that I love to scour the internet for my next travel adventure, I simply forgot everything. One quick exhale, then tuning life out for a few moments put everything back in its proper perspective.
If all else fails, and you can’t get perspective, call a friend. My girl Christine (from “Training Your Man“) always gives good, funny advice when I get too stressed. Her best one yet: “Now Lisa, you don’t need to get your panties all in a bunch, because girl, I promise you, it ain’t worth the gray hair and wrinkles.” And when it’s all said and done, you know Christine’s got that right!