I get it. New year, new you, right? #hustle #striveandgrind #blahblahblah
May I offer a suggestion in the midst of a month of weight loss tips, how-to-be-a-more-perfect-human lists, and #inspo Insta posts?
This advice isn’t for everyone, and not even necessarily for myself, but I know for a fact that most of the people I know and love are simultaneously the hardest working & most successful and yet most stressed & burned out people I know. It makes sense – we push ourselves, make goals, work our asses off, brainstorm, create, and put ourselves out there, and yet there’s always more to do, because those who see all there is to do in their lives tend to cross those things off of the list and then see more must-dos pop up in their place, over and over and over again, and that can get downright demoralizing after a while, even for the most driven, dedicated people I know. The cycle as I know it goes something like this…
January: Full heart, clear eyes, can’t lose.
February: Holy shit this is hard, maybe I bit off more than I can chew? It sure feels good to get this crap done, but when does this end? Look at ___, she’s released a new album, written a book, is a size 00, and has three kids. MUST. DO. MORE. MUST. WORK. HARDER.
March: Fuuuuuuck this. It’s grey and cold and my bed calls. Inevitably, if I treat myself to a day in bed, I spend the whole day wallowing in guilt for giving myself a whole day in bed. Because that makes sense. Pass the Wellbutrin.
April-June: I FEEL SO MUCH SPRIIIIIING! I feel a second wind coming on! Clean! Organize! Write music! Write blog posts! Make lists! Work out, because bathing suit wearing is looming! Menu plan and cook at home! Save money and contribute to the 401K! Do it allllll!
July-August: I should start on my li… Sure! A margarita sounds great! I mean, I’m already sweating because it’s 1000 degrees outside, that’s basically working out, right?
September: MY BIRTHDAY MY FAVORITE SEASON MY TIME TO GET MY __th YEAR IN GEAR! THIS is my year. IMMA MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!
October: I got some shit done! This is great, it’s so easy when I just buckle down, I’ve got to keep the flow going!!! Now, where was that to-do list I was halfway through?!
November: How can I be so in the flow and then just fall out of it? How is it possible that I can get so much done one week and then a month flies by and I haven’t done shit? How have I gotten so fat and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet?!
December: Well fuck it, it’s the holidays and there is peppermint ice cream and mulled cider with whiskey to be had with my family and since I’ve starved myself all year I’m going to gorge myself and fuck getting anything done all month I just want to stare at Christmas lights and obsess over parties and cookie making and surrounding myself with alllll the lovely holiday things so I don’t think about everything I haven’t gotten done this year but I’m still totally thinking about what I haven’t gotten done. Avoidance. Presents. Guilt. Gingerbread. Shame. Champagne.
January: BEGIN AGAIN. Ugh. But I HAVE TO because I just HAVE TO so rally all of my energy to make THIS the YEAR of MEEEEE!
And on and on and on.
Preeeeetty sure you guys recognize much of this, too. We all have different reasons for riding this nauseating ride at the county fair of It’s-Never-Enoughville. Personally, as great as my conservatory education was, it instilled and/or strengthened in me some not-so-great tendencies. Perfection at all costs, competition with and comparison to everyone around me, endless must-dos that if I DON’T do, someone somewhere will, and I’ll miss out on that one chance in my lifetime to grab the brass damned ring just out of all of our reach.
The thing is, I don’t know that the brass ring exists. I DO know that while getting shit DONE feels great, those fleeting moments where I am kind to myself, where I give myself an inch or two of wiggle room, when I breathe and enjoy NOT striving and/or grinding feel JUST as good, and are just as good for me. Not to mention the fact that numerous studies show that exercising metric tons of self-control can be more depleting than it is positive, putting us overachievers behind the slow-and-steady-wins-the-race types, no matter how hard we try, and oh goddess we try. Please note that in no way am I saying that hibernating and doing nada will get you anywhere, because girl, I’ve tried, and it doesn’t. I am advocating for a less-is-more approach, a don’t-beat-yourself-up-if you-didn’t-change-the-world-today way of thinking. Giving yourself a damned BREAK only helps you do MORE in your times of DOING. Makes sense, right? Okay, then how come you never give yourself a fucking BREAK?!
So. Do that. Allow yourself the space to do a little slacking off. Eat the fucking chocolate. Make the list, check some things off, then play Candy Crush for a WHOLE HOUR and DO NOT JUDGE YOURSELF FOR ONE SECOND. Make a to-do list that you can actually DO, i.e. move more and go meatless one day a week as opposed to LOSE 30 POUNDS AND GAIN 30 ABS. Break up gigantic, overwhelming projects into doable pieces. Forgive yourself for what you don’t get done. Remember that JOY in any given moment is just as important (or more important?) as SUCCESS, as weight loss and quitting smoking and finishing that project and all of the rest of it, and if you stress yourself out, you could lose all of the weight and never touch another cig and get it allllll done and STILL die early from a damned heart attack because you will NEVER BE PERFECT.
What is my version of this? Well, I have a small amount of hours set aside in each week to create, just create – music, writing, jewelry, whatever – and I’m back on damned MyFitnessPal, simply counting calories in and calories out, making sure nothing’s totally out of whack. Doable. Because when I’m torturing myself over my past failures and flogging myself to try to do more than everyone else ever, I can’t even get THAT done, so even if I stick to these smaller goals, which I totally can, I’m already ahead of the game.
That’s my 2018 anti-resolutions non-plan.