Every new year many of us go through a process of figuring out what we want to change and if we are really serious, develop a plan to allow these goals to come to fruition. Last year my main goal was to travel more, and I accomplished that. I went to Amsterdam, Antigua, Jamaica, Montreal, New Orleans, Charlotte, and as usual Philly and D.C. I actually accomplished a New Year’s resolution. However, I did fall short in my own emotional growth and mental health. Was it for lack of trying? No. My bipolar disorder, as predictable as it can be, has also been an ever-evolving monster. So with that, I ask myself what do I hope to bring into and manifest in the upcoming New Year?
My main goal is to be kinder and gentler to myself. I am my own worst critic. I internalize my mistakes and see them as character flaws. I do not allow myself the grace that I give others. The past few months have been shining examples of this. I have an internal recording of everything I’ve ever messed up on, everyone I’ve unintentionally hurt or offended, every misstep, and glaringly stupid thing I’ve ever done and it plays on a loop when I have nothing to distract me. My goal from now and into the new year is to erase that recording. To see myself as human and fallible. While I’ve almost always learned from my mistakes, I have never been able to let them go and it weighs me down.
Another goal of mine is to add structure back into my life. I took for granted the highly structured schools and therapeutic programs of my formative years. I’ve also never realized until working from home, that I’m most productive when working in an office with others. Having blocks of time for specific activities was and still is my safety net. Without it, I am just an untethered balloon; sometimes going in the intended direction but more often veering off elsewhere. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do this or how I will enforce it for myself, but it is something I need.
Last, but not least, I will be working to nurture and build on my relationships. I have a wonderful circle of friends that care about me and I want them to know that I love and care about them also. I want to intentionally carve out time to connect with them and let them know that they are important to me. I often think to myself, “I’m going to call/text XYZ, but let me finish this first.” Since I have the attention span and memory of a fruit fly I almost always forget. As much emotional intelligence as I have and also being aware of how to effectively communicate most things, I lack in areas of showing and expressing gratitude and love. The beautiful prose in greeting cards or long thoughtful texts are not my love language. It is action. I often show my love by doing things that I don’t particularly like, but I know will make others happy. That includes driving long distances, going to large parties or crowded events, accepting uncomfortably long hugs, and mainly just being social. Because these things are pretty much the norm and not seen as expressions of gratitude or adoration, I need to go further in how I express love that doesn’t also drain me. I haven’t figured out exactly how to do this yet either, but I will.
I keep my list of goals for a new year or chapter in my life short as to not overwhelm myself and ensure failure. I also find that if you improve something that is a core part of your life, you also eventually improve other areas without realizing it. Self-improvement comes in many forms and looks different for everyone. But as long as you are striving to be better, change is inevitable.
What are your goals for 2018 and how are you planning to achieve them?