“New Years Resolutions” are kind of a tough thing for me . While I LOVE the idea of them, I’ve gone through several different goal setting methods over the years and up until now none of them have really worked. Big picture resolutions are cool and all but it’s REALLY hard for me to stay motivated as I work on them, and itemized “bucket list” type goals just feel like a big weight to carry and yet another thing that I’m failing at.
But for 2018 I did something that (for me, at least, maybe other people do this and it’s not a big deal?) was totally life changing. Instead of big vague goals or tiny specific goals I picked a “theme” for the year to… I don’t know, like, guide my decisions? Working with a therapist had showed me that not only am I terribly afraid of a lot of stupid things, that’s also… not a very healthy way of living so, my theme for 2018 became “doing things I’m afraid of”.
This turned out to be one of my favorite decisions that I’ve ever made. Instead of having to reverse-engineer the steps to accomplish some big lofty goal or drowning in a sea of small ones, I could simply go through the year, looking at things/situations that I might be afraid of and then… doing them. And I’ve loved it for a few reasons:
First, this works equally well in the micro as well as the macro sense. I was able to confront very tiny fears like cutting a pineapple and learning how to park in the assigned spot under our apartment, as well as much bigger ones like going to Texas and signing a year-long social media influencer contract, things in the middle like fermenting food and posting a picture of my butt on Instagram, and EVERY SINGLE ONE was a valid and valuable step toward my ultimate goal for the year. It didn’t matter that the year took some weird turns and certainly didn't end up the way I was expecting, as long as I was doing things I was afraid of, I was on my way, not having to re-calibrate my goals to accommodate for unexpected circumstances (not that I’ve EVER had to deal with anything like THAT sarcasm). And it helps that I’m afraid of an absurd amount of mostly stupid things.
Which brings us to our second point, the one that’s all introspective and goes on about how much I’ve LEARNED and GROWN through this experience and I really want to skip and/or roll my eyes at, but… ITS ALL TRUE. Challenging myself to do things that scare me also forced me to 1. admit that I’m afraid of a stupid amount of things and 2. see JUST HOW MUCH THOSE FEARS WERE HOLDING ME BACK. For example: there were a lot of my passions and interests that I just flat out didn’t shbeare with other people because I was afraid of getting judged/made fun of for being “weird”, but once I started sharing them I learned that, even if the people in my immediate real life circle weren’t exactly supportive, tons of people on the internet WERE and for the first time in my life, I’m a lot more confident in sharing the things I like and care about and… actually feel like I might be helping or encouraging other people sometimes?
Also, since my mental fear-prison covered the whole spectrum of things I could possibly be afraid of, I was able to really progress in a lot of different areas in my life, rather than limiting myself to the specific goals I’d chosen to pursue: I’ve gotten way better at sewing (as well as styling, photographing, and sharing my makes), grown my etsy shop a ton, gotten better at making/keeping friends, totally changed how I parent/homeschool, actually kind of started to get in shape, REALLY started to deal with my mental health… like, so many things that I honestly wouldn't have connected with fears have improved because I just changed my approach instead of just plugging away on one single path.
And finally (honestly I think this is really the best part about the whole thing), since “doing things I’m afraid of” isn’t a specific thing with an end, each conquered fear opened up new opportunities to do something even scarier, which, thanks to the newfound confidence from the previous scary thing I just did, I was actually able to do and it all kinda snowballed and what do you know suddenly I’m flying alone to Minneapolis in the wintertime to spend a weekend with internet strangers and have breakfast with Justin Fucking Pierre and also it was great but at the same time I can’t believe that was a thing that I actually did. But I mean, that’s the whole point I’m trying to make here.
I probably should have kept a list of each individual scary thing I did, but by time I thought to do do that it was too late, I had already lost track, and I mean, the main takeaway from this whole thing is that, thanks to committing to doing things I’m afraid of, I’m a much more confident, less anxious person with a much more interesting life than I had at the beginning of the year. 2018 brought some AMAZING experiences: multiple dream jobs, finally feeling like I belonged somewhere, SO many sweaty mosh pit hugs, and for that I am extremely thankful. 2018 was a hard one in so many ways, but it really truly was a great one.
So am I going to do this whole theme-for-the-year thing again? HECK YES I AM. Honestly I could probably live my whole life doing things I’m afraid of and never run out of new things because THATS THE KIND OF PERSON I AM, but in the interest of maximizing personal growth (because apparently that’s the kind of person I am now), I’m gonna pick a new one. 2019’s theme is “getting better”. Not really pursuing doing anything new but just looking at the things I’m already doing and seeing if there’s any way I can get better. I mean theres some obvious physical and mental health related connotations there, but… I don’t want to limit it to that. Just… going into the new year looking for ways to get better: better at homeschooling, cooking, writing, sewing, running a business, housekeeping, not just being at home by myself all the time… I’m sure I’ll find a whole bunch by the end of the year.
And after all the places 2018 took me, I’m really excited to see where 2019 goes.