New Years always seems to tug on my heartstrings whether I like it or not. Despite knowing it is just another day, I want to believe in the power of fresh starts and that this year, I can be anything I want it to be. Starting…….NOW.
I feel the same way about New Years as I feel when I’m being asked to join a pyramid scheme. I start off thinking the whole thing is a total scam, but after about three hours of peer pressure I begin to think that maybe it’s not entirely impossible that all my problems could be related to a severe riboflavin deficiency and isn’t it lucky that this mud scraped directly off the feet of jungle dwellers has 15x my average daily intake of it?!
Both things clearly play on my wish that life were simpler than I know it to be. But I also think that both things reveal something deeper about the human condition; that optimism is damn near impossible to eradicate.
And that, in and of itself, is a pretty cool thought, even if January 1st is just another day and we all kind of know that deep down. So what? So is my birthday and Christmas and Valentines Day – especially Valentines Days.
But we celebrate anyway. And part of any New Years celebration is reflecting on the year that has passed and looking forward to the year to come. Should it be the only time we take stock? No. But it’s as good a time as any.
2017 was the year that I lived next to a volcano, started a business, learned how to do gel nail polish, discovered Matcha lattes, got fingerprinted, took a motor boat to a game, threw two Pufflings into the ocean, cleaned up after 1000 12 year old boys eating spaghetti and meatballs, took a step towards becoming a crazy cat lady, and was cold a lot.
Looking back through my journal, 2017 started with this quote from the book Shoe Dog.
“Whatever pleasure or gains you derive from the act of running, you must find them within. It’s all how you frame it, how you sell it to yourself.”
I was drawn to this quote because 2016 was the year when I began to feel the clock tick, and realized that how I experience and perceive my life is as important as what I do and achieve. We all sell our lives to ourselves each day, sometimes we’re just more aware of the narrative we’re choosing.
2017 was one of the toughest years yet. It was full of uncertainty, anonymity, and challenges. But it was also one of the most exciting, rewarding and freeing. I lived in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I played in a game where we threw everyone forward in the waning seconds of stoppage time, and it actually worked. I played 45 minutes with a sweeper and 3 marking backs, punted the ball for the first time in ten years, and won a championship.
It was messy, but just like with finger painting and baking, it was also FUN.
I’ve been working with sports psychologist, Stu Singer, for the past few months. One of the best things about working with Stu, aside from having the most interesting conversations, is that he provides a clear way to put in the work. It’s not gimmicky, it’s real and simple things that you’ve probably heard a million times but with an actual path on how to change the way your brain works.
Which brings me to 2018.
When I was younger, I always had the same New Years Resolution. Every year I would write down that I wanted to work as hard as I could at everything I did.
Not lofty at all right?
The interesting thing that I realize now is that working hard means something different every year as the things that were hard get easier and I take notice of things that I didn’t know I was bad at. For example, maybe I got better at running fitness, but I still need to work on watching more games. Maybe I became more confident voicing my opinion, but I still don’t want to leave my comfort zone geographically. Every time I conquer one thing, five seem pop up in its place. That’s the nature of hard work though; it’s never enough. And it will never be enough.
But that also exciting, just like New Years. Despite the knowledge that New Years Eve is not empirically any different than any other night, we want to believe. We want to be better and do better and as my college coach would say, live on a never-ending ascension.
There are many things I worked on last year, and many things I realized I need to do better. Here are two:
In 2017, I worked hard on changing the lense through which I see the world, selling things to myself the way I wanted to see them, and today I feel better about what I’ve done and what I am doing.
In 2018, I want to work hard on one of Stu’s core principles, no judgment.
No judging myself, no judging others, and especially no feeling judged. When we are judging or feeling judged we take our focus away from the things that we do have control of in the present moment. This has - of all the things we’ve worked on - been the hardest for me to master. And that’s ok! (see how I’m being non-judgmental about my struggles with being non-judgmental)
Happy New Year!