I don’t know about you, but New Year’s Resolutions have never really worked for me. Being a self-help junkie, for years--before marriage and mommyhood--I had a tradition of reserving an entire afternoon to hole up in a coffee shop and ruminate on all of the ways I could be better. There were always many. That was the problem. My list of goals and dreams for where I’d be in a year was shiny and oh-so-hopeful...over the course of the next year I’d be making twice as much money with a day job and side hustle, have written a novel, have gone to yoga 3 times a week, lost 10 lbs, flossed every day, read a book a week, all while attending church every Sunday and volunteering with teenage girls.
I know what you’re thinking...just pick one, genius! (Oooh, I just thought of another that always made the list! Be more decisive.) Of course I was living in Fantasyland to think that I could change so many things about my life at once...but isn’t that what we all do in our 20’s?
Alas, in reality, I never lived up to the ideal version of myself. Year after year I failed to meet my resolutions which meant I was a failure. Sure, I got a raise and made some extra cash with my side hustle, but I wasn’t making anywhere close to double my salary. I started writing a book, but it was nowhere near finished. I’d gone to yoga, but more like 3 times a month than 3 times a week. And that same 10 pounds was lost and gained throughout the course of the year multiple times. I couldn’t see the small steps I’d taken because, in my mind, my goals weren’t met. My New Year’s resolution fails only proved to me that I was a lazy, half-asser.
Luckily, in my 27th year, I was blessed to have a very wise bestie who told me her trick for not over-promising to herself was to have a New Year’s Mantra instead of a resolution, i.e. It’s 2009 and I’m feelin’ fine! This appealed to me immediately. Not only did this approach simplify my focus, I’d get to rhyme! After a quick brainstorm, I decided my new mantra for the year was, “It’s 2011 and I’m in heaven.” This may seem like a corny mantra for a simpleton, but allow me to explain.
In 2010 I moved cross-country from Florida to San Francisco by myself and uprooted my entire life. Though I knew the move was what I needed to do, I had dealt with a lot of loneliness and discomfort as a result. That’s why in 2011 my focus was to appreciate that I was living in my favorite city and finally pursuing writing as a career.
This was what I’d spend lunch hours dreaming of in my former life. I’d wander through Borders in Tampa (R.I.P. Borders.), smell the books, the coffee, and imagine walking the chilly idyllic streets of San Francisco and stopping in a local coffee shop to write something really deep and important while having deep meaningful conversations with deep important people who were also writing deep and important things. Everyone looked like an extra in So I Married An Axe Murderer because that was the way I’d imagined San Francisco. The cool jazz-coffee-bar 90’s version. I fancied myself wearing hats, glasses, and being serious.
Of course reality was a little different than I’d imagined. My deep and important professors called my writing “glib” and it turns out I feel pretentious in hats and don’t need glasses. I had to look up the definition of glib and basically felt like the far less fabulous version of Elle Woods at Harvard. Who was I kidding? I’m not deep, important and serious? I was, like, in a sorority and watched Gossip Girl! And that super cool coffee-jazz-club from the movie is actually a burrito place. So on days when I rode a crowded stinky bus through Chinatown and smelled a different brand of urine on every street corner, I came back to my mantra. It’s 2011 and I’m in heaven helped me remember that all of this, my fragrant reality, was me living my dream.
Since then I’ve realized that having a mantra for the year works because it empowers me to set an intention. It’s about choosing a mindset and approach for how I want to live my life. It informs my decisions, shifts my perspective, and allows me to celebrate progress over perfection.
Fast-forward to today. I’m married with a toddler. (How the bleep did that happen!? It wasn’t on my list of resolutions!) After a tough pregnancy which brought on a chronic illness, over the past couple of years self care has felt like just another energy-sucking thing on my to-do list. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s pretty much impossible to shave your legs when you’re preggers. And, if we’re being really honest, it still sucks when you’re not. But self care goes so far beyond just shaving and flossing...it’s about giving myself the same love and care that I give to others. That’s why my New Year’s Mantra is...drumroll please... It’s 2017 and I am the QUEEN!
Yes, it’s cheesy, but I’m finding it extremely effective. When I find myself caught in a web of people-pleasing or afraid of what other people will think, I lean into my mantra. I’m the Queen. What would the Queen do? Rule. She’d rule.
A queen would prioritize her own needs because she knows that her health and well-being are critical to everyone she serves. A queen knows she can’t do it all so she delegates. A queen works in her sweet spots and empowers other people to work in theirs. A queen rules with confidence and authority. She doesn’t apologize for being herself. She gets her needs met because that’s what she expects and demands. A queen may be afraid of putting herself out there but she puts on that crown, stands up straight, holds her head high and sits on that throne anyway. Hail yeah...I want to be her!
If you’re already feeling de-motivated or bogged down by your resolutions, celebrate your wins and choose a mindset mantra to help you move forward. Nobody’s perfect...consider yourself royally pardoned.