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!

You Deserve Better. You Know You Do

you deserve better you know you do, elaina avalos

You deserve better. You know you do. I do, too.

“As William James observed, we must reflect that, when we reach the end of our days, our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default. We are at risk, without quite fully realizing it, of living lives that are less our own than we imagine.”

– Tim Wu

Sometimes we hope and long for things that feel right on the surface. Our feelings are our feelings. We love, hope, dream, and plan around them at times. We are attracted to people we are attracted to. And yet, our feelings can betray us in many ways. There’s not much you can do to change them. You can love or care for someone and not be able to change that. But it may also mean that your feelings are pulling you in the wrong direction.

I deserve (you deserve), the absolute best. I reached a point (took forever) not too long ago, where I was just done with certain people. I’ve held onto or kept open connections because of obligation, my career, or an inability to let go (for reasons unknown to me). I have, in increasing measure, grown ruthlessly protective of my life and the days that lie ahead.

But sometimes, even still, I’ve found myself letting my feelings carry me away – without standing firm in what I want for my life. I don’t want (and you shouldn’t either) sloppy seconds, being chosen last, or being carried away by feelings, in general. Particularly when, as the quote above says, “we are at risk without quite realizing it, of living lives that are less our own than we imagine.”

What does that really mean? Frankly, I interpret this to mean – stop wasting time on men (or women) and relationships that are less than what you truly want (and deserve). I think it means that we go along with the current, carried by circumstances and feelings, without thinking. We’re pulled along in that current – without reaching for truth, remembering what we’re here on this earth to do, or what we know we truly want.

I can care for someone until I’m blue in the face. My feelings may try to steer me in their direction. But that doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for me. Your feelings are just that. We shouldn’t deny or hide them. Nor should we live a life void of them (of course). But we have to evaluate them and when they’re not steering us right, we have to choose differently.

I’ve shared this video above because I love the idea of making conscious decisions to choose. We have countless choices to make, boundaries to set, and paths to take. We can choose to remove ourselves from relationships that don’t keep us on that path or that potentially derail us from getting to that life we know we truly want to live. Additionally, we don’t need to sit back and passively wait for some future thing to happen for our lives to begin.

We can choose. I choose to believe that I’m worth more than someone who can’t make up his mind. I’m worth more than a man that is flattered by the attention, but doesn’t care for me and want what’s best for me. I’m worth more than someone who isn’t all in. You are too. You know this in your gut. You deserve better. You know you do . . .

I’m fully committed to choosing the right partner. I’m fully committed to choosing the path I’m on and the boundaries I need to set, to stay on that path. Don’t be swept up in the current of your feelings when you know you deserve more.



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.

Chasing Dreams – A Tip for Beginning Your Journey

elaina avalos, chasing dreams,

I’ve mentioned that I’m ready for a new adventure & that I’ve got a timeline for making some decisions about the future. The closer I get to needing to solidify my plan, the more convinced I become of this one thing – I have more dreams to chase. When you grieve, it’s easier to lay aside the big, fat scary dreams that require stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s easier. It’s safer. I’ve done that (avoided scary things) since the moment I said goodbye to the sweet boy that made me a mom.

I don’t like easy & safe. I never have. I’m not made for it. I’ve never feared chasing dreams and I’ve never shied away from going after them.

That may mean that I have to travel paths others don’t, but I’ve always been good with that. As a writer and artist at heart, I’m comfortable with the hard things and grey lines. Those hard things make writing and creating, richer. If you’re willing, it also makes you a better lover of people. It makes you better able to love and care for others in their hardest moments. I think it adds more to my writing too. I don’t like to live on the surface. The hard things we face can either make life richer or they dwarf us and make us bitter.

I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
― Anais Nin

I’ve lived in a dwarfed state, because of my grief, much longer than I’m comfortable with. I’m done with all of that though. I am chasing dreams again – whatever that means and wherever that takes me.

So, if you’re anything like me, and you’re ready to chase some dreams, what’s the first step? The first step is letting go. Letting go of what, you may ask? That I can’t tell you. Maybe it’s other’s expectations. Maybe it’s fear of the consequences of heading in a new direction. Maybe it’s a combination of a few things. Whatever it is, that’s your first step – let go.

By the way, the first step is the hardest one. But if you’re chasing dreams, it’s where the meat is. Make. Up. Your. Mind. And. Do. It.

Let go.

There’s a scene in The West Wing in season 2’s “Two Cathedrals” that I love. If I could have found it for you, I would have shared (below is what happens just before the press conference). The show has spent multiple episodes up to this point, dealing with a popular president’s hidden multiple sclerosis diagnosis. President Bartlet knows he wants to run again. But the looming possibility that by hiding his diagnosis, it will all go up and flames, is consuming the Bartlet White House. They’re all focused on the consequence of what happens when the country learns that he didn’t divulge this important information. They’re worried about the future – all of them.

Meanwhile, President Bartlet is reliving memories of his beloved secretary (that he’s known since high school – she worked for his father) who died in a car accident and is buried the very day he’s going public, with his diagnosis. The truth is, he wants to run again. He believes he has more to do. He has a dream. And in his gut, he knows what he needs to do. But the circumstances are seemingly insurmountable. Their pollster has already given them the skinny – you can’t win after telling the country you have MS (and hid it from the world).

But on this painful day that he buries Mrs. Landingham, he faces down the circumstances, the dream, and work left undone. He fights it out with God in the National Cathedral and has a conversation with “her” afterward – just before his press conference. As he stands there at the podium, soaking wet from an unusual May hurricane-like storm, with questions being shouted out at him, he goes against his Press Secretary’s advice and takes a question from the wrong reporter. She asks him if he’s going to run for President again.

At first, he seems disoriented. And then, and then. His gaze is steely, he puts his hands in his pockets, and he faces the wild press corps. He knows what he has to do. He lets go of the grief, he lets go of the circumstances (all telling him he shouldn’t do this thing), and he lets go of the worries about how hard the path ahead is going to be. The show ends with his Chief of Staff saying, “Watch this.”

He let go and went for it.

So that’s it – friend. Let go. That’s where you have to start. It’s not going to be easy. You’ll face tests along the way. But I’m convinced that’s often a good sign you’re where you need to be. Take the first step and the rest will become clear.

What dream are you contemplating pursuing? What holds you back? What are the chances you’re stuck at what could do wrong? Don’t stay stuck at what could go wrong . . .

Live well. Be well.

I don’t like to wonder about the “what-ifs” in life. I have made it my goal to not reach the end of my days with more regrets piled up, than chances taken. While the road hasn’t been straight & I’ve crashed and burned a few times, I would rather live fully & dream big, then to wonder what might have been {even if I crash & burn}.

I left a job in December. That decision was one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself in recent history. The time I’ve spent since that day has been renewing, restful, peaceful, and a little scary too.

But, if the road ahead doesn’t freak you out a little, are you really living? In my case, the answer is no.

The last month has given me time to rest, create, & hope again. It also gave me time to figure out what my word for 2020 is.

It’s . . . wellness. Wellness is such an all encompassing word. As I’ve read about that word and what wellness really means, I’ve grown more & more excited that this word has settled in & will stick around.

Wellness for me also means not looking back with regret. So though it’s February 10th and not January 1st, this is my 2020 kick-off to living well, being well, and running my race without regrets.

Do you have a word for 2020? How do you choose your word {or does it choose you}?