Don’t Be Overwhelmed by New Years Resolutions

don't be overwhelmed by new years resolutions, elaina avalos

It’s about that time. We’re barreling toward the start of a whole new year. From late autumn through Christmas every year, I spend time evaluating how my year has gone and think ahead to the upcoming year. While I have multiple long-term, life goals (and smaller goals I hope to meet and often do), I do not give myself a long list of resolutions each year.

I do, however, chose a word for my year. I’ve done this for so many years now I’ve lost track. My word for 2022 found me (as they usually do). The word was acceptance (or radical acceptance). I was so uncertain about the word, that I almost changed it, for the first time ever. But it was the right word.

“Radical Acceptance is the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.”

~ Tara Branch

While I don’t want to go into a long story about how this word did/did not apply to 2022, I can tell you with confidence that as the “one word” concept has done every year, acceptance became the lesson of this year that has ultimately helped me tremendously. While it seems kind of nutty to make statements like this, it was life-changing. How was a word life-changing? If I told you all of that, you wouldn’t read. It’s a long story. 🙂

If you feel stressed about a new year, that’s just hours away, or find yourself stressed within the first few weeks of a new year, don’t be overwhelmed by New Years Resolutions. I tackle my year by choosing a word that becomes a theme (of sorts). I set intentions around that word. I know what you’re thinking . . . aren’t intentions, goals or resolutions?

Yes and no. Intentions look a little different to me than resolutions/goals. They’re also self-focused and don’t require participation from anyone else. Do you ever make resolutions or goals that involve other people? These could include changing careers, improving relationships, etc.? The problem with those goals and resolutions, are that they require other people to get in line with your goals/resolutions. That just doesn’t work because you can’t control other people.

If your goal is to “work out every day” or hit 10,000 steps a day, do those goals account for your own needs or potential changes in your schedule, health, your family’s schedule, your career, etc.? Would it be easier to hit a 10,000 step goal if it was actually a weekly aim? If your plan of attack is 50,000 steps in a week – you’re not beholden to accomplishing that every day. You have 7 days to make it happen. That might be a lot easier to make happen than 10,000 a day.

If your intention is to be the best girlfriend, wife, employee you can be – it’s entirely dependent on you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does/doesn’t do. It doesn’t matter what your boss does, if you’re appreciated, or what your opportunities for advancement are.

Well . . . it does matter. Those things do matter. But us becoming who and what we need to be, is dependent upon our choices. Choosing a word for the year helps me be – in admittedly sometimes small increments, to be the person I want to be. And it’s entirely dependent upon me and not circumstances.

If I have a long list of resolutions and goals, there are 100% guaranteed obstacles to accomplishing those. I know I’m not alone in that. So why do that to yourself?

Here’s what I do or think through, as the year comes to a close, and a new year begins:

1. Evaluate the course of my previous year and determine what I loved, didn’t love, and what I wished I’d done differently.

Example: If my word is “acceptance” how well did I accept circumstances as they came? Was I content regardless of circumstances? What were my biggest “negative” emotions around my various intentions or the word itself?

2. Determine what new intentions I have for myself or what I didn’t get to the year before. Were the negative or neutral emotions or experiences, reoccurring themes? Were my failings or near-misses reoccurring themes?

3. I spend some time connecting those reoccurring themes and those things I hope to make a reality in my life and usually end up with a word that covers it all. Because of my faith, prayer is woven throughout.

Example: A pretty constant theme throughout my 2022, was anxiety and fear. Fear was prevalent. It literally kept me from accomplishing some things that I’d hoped to. It kept me from career dreams that may have been a reality – had I been less fearful.

4. Once the word is clear, I use my phone’s notes app, journal, etc., to make a list of things I’d like to do in the new year. Most of the time, these are big picture desires.

Example: Improving my health is a big picture goal. It’s not 10,000 steps a day or yoga every day. But it may be slowly making better choices that lead to major changes over the course of the year. For instance, I wanted to do Yoga with Adrienne’s daily yoga practice in January. But my joints aren’t sure of that at the moment. What is possible? Regular walks with the dog and yoga a few days a week and when I can’t sleep. I do have plenty of specifics listed, too. For instance, if I want to be more organized, I create an additional list of specific things I need to organize.

Fearless: free from fear : BRAVE

My word for 2023? It’s Fearless. It’s not the first time I’ve had that word. But it’s never fit better. So what does that look like for intentions? I’m certainly not sharing here. Haha! But I can tell you that it’s a word that is an extension of acceptance.

Listen, I know. This isn’t the advice most people are going to give you. I’m not most people. I sympathize with those who may be working their way through health issues, loss and grief, or any other number of challenges. Why beat yourself up on the path to becoming a better version of yourself, when you don’t tick off every little thing on that list of yours?

Being driven is not a bad thing. Neither is determination to meet your goals. But if you’re like me and need a little more grace, the word thing works so much better.

What is your biggest obstacle to meeting your goals? Do you find yourself overwhelmed a few weeks or a couple months into a new year as life hits your best intentions? If so, you might like giving the one word thing, a shot.

Here’s to a 2023 full of good things!

I’ve Lost Enough Time

I’ve had a heck of a day. 

Anxiety has been out of this world – stealing time on this last day of the Veterans Day weekend. I’ve worked enough hours lately that after a quick work task this morning, I was planning on spending my last day at home – writing, cooking, & decorating.

That’s not at all what happened. It took me hours & hours to write, battling intense self-doubt. I needed to stand firm & write. But I was flooded with distracting thoughts of my expanding to-do list, my dad’s living situation, missing the ones that are missing, and worrying about the future. None of which are helpful for focusing on a novel that *must* be finished. 

Eventually, I did what I intended – writing 2,036 new words, of a novel that has had my heart, since the summer of 2020. As I was looking out at my patio & the woods, I was reminded of the precious nature of our time. If you’d told me I’d never see the man I love again, I’d go back and change some things. Nearly six months ago, or further back – if you’d told me my baby brother would get to heaven before I do, I’d tell you were crazy. But then I’d change some things. If I knew the number of my days, would I live differently?

The thing is, I don’t know the number of my days. None of us do. But one thing loss has taught me is that we don’t need to know the number of our days to make the most of each moment. Anxiety, worry, living in anger or unforgiveness, or the past – they all take from these precious minutes we have now. When I look back, I want to know I’ve used them wisely and that I’ve pushed through the hard things, to keep living the life I’m meant to.

I refuse to lose more time. It may have taken longer than I would have preferred today – but I found my groove, while looking out at the woods – with the golden autumn light warming this chilly day. I’ve lost enough time. So have you. 

“Write clear and hard about what hurts.” – Hemingway

Change of Seasons

autumn leaves, change in seasons, seasons change, yellow leaves, eastern north carolina, elaina avalos

Yesterday, I was out on my patio watering my plants. I swear I didn’t see this much yellow (there was no red) in the jungly vines in the woods. The heat & humidity are with us & probably will be all month (maybe into October), but there are little signs the seasons are changing. As I started to write this, a stray rainstorm blew in and yellow leaves fell to the ground. It really feels like autumn is on the way, now.

autumn leaves, red leaves, change in seasons, seasons change, yellow leaves, eastern north carolina, elaina avalos

I always find some renewed hope when the seasons change. There’s not a lot externally that’s changed for me, though change is what I long for. I long for a new place, new people, new relationships and opportunities. I’m waiting for my greatest dream. Usually, when I want something new I just go do it. I go get it. I make the move. I make the change.

For the first time in ages, I feel the pull toward the change, but know my change of seasons isn’t quite upon me yet. There were a couple moments this weekend when that made me uncomfortable. I like change and when I’m ready, I’m ready. It goes against every instinct in me to remain in the same place.

autumn leaves, change in seasons, seasons change, yellow leaves, eastern north carolina, elaina avalos

But something is keeping me grounded. Which tells me God is actually at work here. And while I may never understand the reason, I know the timing is off for the change I so long for.

So, if you, like me – are longing for change but it eludes you so far – maybe stop to soak in the change in the seasons. Let nature’s shifting & changing be enough right now (as hard as that may be).

As I enjoy one last day off on this holiday weekend, I wanted to say that I hope you will find the moments to enjoy what each season brings with it – even when it feels uncomfortable.

Pretty flower photos, from my patio, for no reason…

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I know the last couple of years have been hard. A global pandemic, sometimes isolation from the people we care about, and so much instability in the world. It’s hard to see the good things, at times – especially when that’s what fills our Facebook “newsfeeds,” social media, and what we see on the news.

But the Good News is, there is hope. This has been a hard few years for me. I’ve lost a child I believed I would raise, I lost in love, and I faced a toxic situation that has now contributed to my health facing new challenges. But there is hope. There is always hope. No season lasts. No trial endures forever. The Good News for me is in the form of Emmanuel – God With Us – Jesus.

I don’t care much for religion and the ways in which we’ve perverted His message and the reason He came. But I do know with complete certainty that I’d be lost without Jesus. And so, that is where, in spite of all of the ugliness, where my hope lies.

I wish you & yours a beautiful holiday season. And I hope your day today is filled with peace, joy, and all the good things.