I usually love New Years. It’s honestly one of my favorite times of year. I like to introspect about my growth from the previous year and also my stuck points. I like to tap into my passions and values and strategize how to optimize growth along those lines in the following year. I love generating a personal “theme” each year that will guide my behaviors and intentions. And I love the feeling of January. It’s a fresh start, full of endless possibility.
However, this year felt different for me. I ended the year burnt out and battle-worn. While I can say there were important growth moments for me the last year, it was certainly not the development I hoped for, for myself. I felt like I spent a lot of the year simply surviving…and sometimes even barely so.
As New Year’s approached I didn’t feel energized the way I normally do. I just felt tired. I didn’t want to ask more from myself in terms of setting new goals and ambitions.
Instead of asking how I needed to push myself more, I asked myself, “What do I need from myself?”
The first answer was, I needed to give myself grace for being in the space I was in. Sometimes life is just hard and despite our best efforts, it remains hard. That is ok. That doesn’t mean that I failed in some way. I can honestly say I did my best this last year and survival is a win in of itself.
The second answer is that I need to slow down and create more space for myself. Obviously running myself ragged wasn’t working for me and I needed to strategize how to create more quiet spaces in my life to settle, reconnect, and re-energize. After talking with a friend, I came up with the most simple solution, but one that I believe can make a big difference. It’s hardly revolutionary but, I decided to give myself a lunch break at work.
This last year, I arranged my work day where I would see clients and run groups back-to-back without anything more than a 10-minute break in-between. As a result, I would work straight through the day and then go home and engage in my other work, which is being a mom. While some people don’t think of motherhood as a job, it really is a 24/7 demanding position. So even though I am only “employed” part-time, I was working, literally, all the time.
Deciding to give myself an hour lunch break at work serves two purposes. First, it literally gives me an hour where I can take care of myself. I can slow down and nourish my body with food, and also nourish myself with connection with friends, or meditate, or read, or hell, even nap!
Secondly, it symbolizes creating overt space in my life for me. I talk with clients regularly about how our behaviors reinforce our belief systems. By not creating space for myself, I was sending myself a message that I wasn’t worth time or care. So, creating and protecting space for myself should reiterate the importance of knowing that I am worthy of taking up space in my life. I believe this symbolic hour will create an opening for me to take up more space, where needed, in other areas of my life.
So, this new year is different for me. Instead of being more ambitious, I am slowing down and honoring my limits and needs. It’s so easy to be swept up in the momentum and societal attitudes about setting transformational goals each New Years. But I also think there is great value in settling into what life is demanding of us, what our needs are, and our bandwidth to meet those needs. I hope we can all give ourselves grace for having needs and give ourselves permission to meet those needs. Because we are worthy to take up space in our lives.