A New Year

I did not have a good year in 2019. I was angry and upset and disappointed and frustrated with life and people and God. I still don’t understand, and I still have a lot of grief and anger and conflict to resolve. But I decided to stay up last night to welcome in the new year because I want it to be better. I want to make some changes, and I want to be happier.

I have been through a lot of changes in the last 10 years. I have gone from getting off antidepressants because I felt like they did nothing to taking an antidepressant that made me more depressed than I had ever been before to finding one that actually helps and prevents me from having constant suicidal thoughts. I have been through all the range of emotions from the happiest I have ever been to the saddest I have ever been. I have felt more loved than ever before and have been overcome by my emotions several times. I forgave people I never thought I could. I got to the point where I didn’t get angry or yell when my brother accidentally scraped the side of my new car. I made significant changes to my life and became the person I wanted to be.

Then, I spiraled down into grief and depression and physical pain like I had never known before. And it was hard, and I was hurt and angry. And it eventually got to the point where my reservoirs of faith and hope and joy were depleted, and I was not sure where to turn or if I believed in anything anymore. And I am still at that point in a lot of ways.

But… It is a new year. I watched a video this morning where Kristina Kuzmic challenged people to write down a specific good thing that happens every day. She said it changed her life and helped her find the positives even in days that were terrible. I need that in my life. I need more positives. So, for the next year this blog will be turning into a space for me to put down something positive from every day because I need it, and maybe it will help someone else along the way, too.

New Year

There are a few hours left until the new year. Depending on where you are in the world, it might already be 2018.

I have never been the type of person to put much significance into dates, but I love the idea of a clean slate. I love that each year can bring something new and exciting. I have grown so much in the past few years that I’m not sure what’s left to work on. I know that I can and will continue to improve, but there’s nothing I feel I specifically need right now. I have had years of learning and improving in areas like forgiveness, love, patience, strength, faith, and hope. Now, I feel like this year can be less about improving and more about doing.

I want to get a new job. I want to make new friends. I want to find new ways to serve and help others. And I want to do more. I want to love more. I want to serve more. I want to do more in my callings at church. I want to do more with my friends. I want to do more with my family. I want to do more crafts and read more books and make more art. Now that I have improved mentally and physically and emotionally, I feel like it is time to just be everything I have become and more. This will be my year to do.

What is this new year for you?

Going into 2016

2015 was a year of growth and learning. I am a different and better person than I was 365 days ago.

Here’s 16 things I learned last year that will help me live better in 2016:

  1. I may feel lonely, but I am never alone in this world. There are more people rooting for me and praying for me than I ever imagined.
  2. I am a better person than I give myself credit for.
  3. Sometimes it’s good to hate yourself because it gives you a reason to become better.
  4. It’s scary to talk to people, but the friends are so worth it.
  5. You would be surprised at who you can forgive.
  6. It’s easier to eat healthy than you would think.
  7. Trials aren’t as hard when you know you’re loved.
  8. You don’t have to spend lots of time with friends to stay close to them.
  9. It’s okay to have horrible, no good, very bad days sometimes.
  10. When you think you’re being vulnerable and overly candid, it may not be as bad as you think.
  11. Christmas music is really okay to play before Thanksgiving.
  12. Therapy really can make a big difference.
  13. Sometimes you have to go back home to realize you already were home.
  14. I’m not the same person I used to be and things really are changing for me.
  15. Depression isn’t always a choice, but gratitude can be.
  16. It’s okay to be autistic.

Resolution

I don’t tend to put much meaning into milestones. My birthday is an arbitrary date that just happens to mark when I can say I am older. Likewise, New Year’s day is an arbitrary date that marks the beginning of a new calendar. In all reality, it is a social construct to keep everyone in sync with each other. This is evidenced by leap year. We have to readjust our time keeping to coincide with the time keeping of the Earth.

I know this is all pretty much irrelevant because everything is basically a mental construct of reality and is defined by what we believe. However, my point is that I don’t feel any greater need to determine my resolutions near January 1st than any other time of year. In fact, I think you are more likely to accomplish your goals if you start long before January 1st.

For instance, goals to exercise or eat healthier are generally reserved for after the holidays because people feel it will be easier with less temptations. However, there will always be temptations. By waiting until after the holidays, you are essentially telling yourself that you cannot resist temptations and therefore should not attempt to change habits that are likely to remain the same. Resolution shares the same root word as resolute and resolve. If you really have a resolve to change, why would you wait until New Year’s day to make that change?

Resolution also has the word solution in it. If you are deciding to implement a solution, wouldn’t you want to start right away? Why wait to fix your life or your marriage or your work responsibilities? If you have a solution to a real problem, why would you not want to do it right away?

So this year, I am making one, and only one, resolution. That resolution is to not wait until next year to make changes in my life. If I see something that needs to be changed or fixed or improved, I’m going to start right away. I am going to be resolute and determined in my resolve to be better and to find and implement solutions in my life. I am going to not just make goals and resolutions, but do them.

Why Wait?

I’m usually a big Christmas person. I love giving to people. I love an excuse to give. And I love loving others and showing them I love them.

This year though, I wasn’t excited like usual. It seemed useless. The presents I bought all year long sit in their boxes, unopened, untouched, unwrapped.

Tonight though, I realized something. I don’t need an excuse to be generous. I don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful or until Giving Tuesday to give money to charities or until Christmas to give gifts or until New Year’s day to make resolutions. I can be thankful all year; I can give gifts all year; I can make goals all year. I don’t have to wait for an excuse to do good.

What I like best about Christmas is being Christ-like all the time. What I like best about Christmas is remembering Christ every day. What I like best about Christmas is it doesn’t have to be a one day or one month thing. It can be an every day thing if we just live like Christ was born every day because he was born but more importantly, he is alive. And because he was born and because he does live, every day can be Christmas.

We don’t have to be confined to one day generosity. We don’t have to be confined to one day thankfulness. We can make every day Christmas and every day Thanksgiving if we just allow ourselves to love every day. And that is a beautiful thing.

GREAT Goals

Have you set your New Year’s resolutions this year?

I have been thinking lately about all of the New Year’s resolutions that are abandoned as the year goes on. A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something” or “the quality of being determined or resolute.” So if resolutions are supposed to be firm decisions, why do we so easily forget or disregard them? How do we make resolute resolutions?

Most people have heard of “SMART” and “WISE” goal setting. SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timely. And you need to be WISE in order to work toward fulfilling those goals. (People have different terms for the WISE acronym.)

Together, these philosophies can help you work to make and keep your goals. However, the problem with both of these is that they only come into play after you decide what goal you want to make. So most people’s goals tend to be focused on changing behavior, which means that people are expecting to be able to change their behavior without changing the causes of that behavior.

Sometimes life does work out in a way that allows our behavior to change our thoughts, but usually it is our thoughts that change our behavior. So I’ve come up with my own acronym to help you with deciding what goals to make in the first place. I hope that this will help you to make goals that will make you want to change rather than simply change your behavior.

Here are my steps to GREAT goals:

Get
Ready

Explore
Areas

Turn

The first step to making a great goal is to get ready. You need to be ready to change, ready to become better than you are now. You get ready by recognizing a desire to change. That desire could be due to health problems, family concerns, or mental or emotional needs. For example, “I want to be healthier because I have a family history of diabetes.”As much as you can, try to get to the root of what causes the behavior you want to change and then determine why you want to change.

Next, explore the areas you want to change. If you want to be healthier, explore your options for becoming healthy. If you don’t enjoy using exercise equipment, don’t make a goal to go to the gym. Instead explore options like walking around a mall. Look at your behavior and explore options that you would enjoy doing. If you take the time to explore the areas you want to change, you’ll likely find an option to change that you can commit to doing.

Then, turn your life to make the change you want to see. It’s good to make goals to change behavior but unless you choose to change yourself, your behavior will likely remain unchanged. You need to commit to turning your life. Turn in the direction you want your life to go. Make your goals part of your life rather than add-ons. Integrate your goals into your normal routine or better yet integrate your normal routine into your goals.

Once you’ve decided to make great goals, be smart and wise in how you make those goals a reality. Get help and feedback along the way. Changing yourself isn’t easy so use all the help you can get.

Good luck with your goals this year!