Happy New Year! I hope that you are getting settled into 2018 with a sense of renewed purpose and excitement for the year ahead. If you’ve already made resolutions for change, I hope you are staying strong and seeing results. If you haven’t, keep reading, you might want to consider a new approach.
So its a few days into January and I haven’t made any resolutions for the new year and I don’t plan to. Starting last year, rather than making resolutions, I decided to instead chose a word(s) that would serve to ground me and guide my choices throughout the year. As a chronic people pleaser, and someone who often says “yes” when on the inside I’m screaming “no,” as 2016 closed, I was determined in the new year to pay closer attention to my own needs and to stop putting myself in situations that weren’t aligned with what I really wanted for myself. With this goal in mind, for 2017 my word(s) were authenticity and boundaries and I found my inspiration in the book “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown.
Many times throughout last year, I came back to my words and asked myself if the choice I was about to make was authentic to me and in alignment with what feels right for me, or was I making a choice that would please someone else but leave me feeling miserable and disrespected. With my words as a guide I put considerable effort into trying to establish more authenticity and to set better boundaries for myself. For us chronic people pleasers, setting boundaries is possibly the hardest thing to do. Even after a year of consciously practicing, I still struggle with not only setting boundaries but enforcing them. Personally, I think it’s really hard to tell someone that their behavior is hurting you and that if they want to continue having you in their lives then they need to make a change. Further, I found that if you don’t speak up in just the right way, you could be accused of lecturing or being demanding. I learned this the hard way and now I’m working on finding better ways to say “when you do ‘x’, I feel ‘y’ and that’s not okay with me.” My takeaway is that if they care, they’ll change. If the relationship isn’t important to them, they won’t change and you have to be prepared to walk away. Simple but oh, so hard to do. I may have upset a number of people, and ultimately lost a friend or two, I finished the year feeling more in tune with myself and more in control of my life.
Feeling pretty good about how I used my word(s) last year, I again decided to choose a word (or two) to help guide me this year. as 2017 drew to a close, I started searching for a new word. Having had success from a book last year, my first thought was to turn back to the books I had recently read and see if anything jumped out at me. Sadly, nothing felt right. I was beginning to feel a bit panicky as New Year’s Eve came and went and I still hadn’t found my new word. But then a few days ago, while standing in a bookstore, inspiration came in the most unlikely of sources, not a book, but a Funko Pop doll. Yep, you read that right. I found inspiration in a Funko Pop doll or more accurately, I found inspiration in Alice, as in Alice in Wonderland. While Alice is a character from the book written by Lewis Carroll, the Funko Pop doll depicts the version of Alice from Alice Through the Looking Glass, the film version by Tim Burton.
My kids are obsessed with collecting Funko Pops and having a bit of Christmas cash to spend, last week we headed to our favorite used bookstore for a bit of retail therapy. While helping my kids search for the latest Star Wars characters amongst a mountain of Funko Pops, I found dear sweet Alice sitting on the clearance shelf for just $5. I knew when I saw her that I had to have her, and by the time I made it back home, unwrapped her, and sat her on the shelf in my office, I had my word or words for 2018…curiosity and courage.
I have always loved the story of Alice in Wonderland. As a kid l I was drawn to the fantastical characters and Alice’s long blonde hair and her blue and white dress. I had a little easy reader copy of the book with pictures from Disney’s animated film. I probably read that book a gazillion times before I actually got to see the movie. Then after seeing the movie I remember asking my mom to make me a blue dress with a white islet apron just like Alice’s. Being an indulgent mom and a really great seamstress to boot, she made the dress. I then wore the dress when I went outside to explore and seek adventure. In my mind, running around my backyard, I was Alice, falling down the rabbit hole and discovering a new world. Now that I’m all grown up and have read the non-easy reader versions of the books and seen the updated films, staring Mia Wasikowska as Alice, I am drawn to the curiosity and courage that guides Alice on her adventures. She doesn’t let complacency or fear stop her from exploring, discovering, or slaying dragons. She has fire in her belly and the little girly seriously gets after it.
My plan for this new year is to allow curiosity and courage to guide my choices and keep me facing my fears with fire in my belly, just like Alice. If you’re still coming up with your ‘new year, new you’ goals and are wondering how you’ll make it happen this year, I encourage you to try this method. Choose a guiding word or two and keep them in the forefront of your mind. Write them down on sticky notes and hang them on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge, in your office or wherever you’re most likely to need reminding. If you’re feeling courageous, share them with your friends or share them here. I’d love to hear what word(s) you’ve chosen. Best wishes for a happy and successful new year!