Life Path Counseling
Create Your Path To A Better Future.

As the year comes to a close, there is a sense of things left undone, things we never got around to starting, and perhaps, things we wish we had never done in the first place.  What is it with tracking time of endings and beginnings? How do we reconcile the past, the present, and the future, in just one night called New Year's Eve? Is it even rational to attempt such a lofty goal of "making changes" or declaring resolutions like "I'm going to lose weight this year", "I promise I'll quit drinking so much", or "I am going to be financially stable by (enter date)." I think the answer of "is it rational?" is both a yes and a no response. I'll bet you weren't expecting that as an answer. A large percentage of people tend to work from absolutes - an all or nothing approach when it comes to goal setting or marking progress in personal achievements. That doesn't seem quite as effective as allowing ourselves to experience imperfection, and the practicing of self-compassion.

Yes, imperfection. The knowledge that we as human beings are both flawed in our accomplishments, our behavior, our attitudes toward any number of myriad things, but also that we are in fact capable of change when striving for the best in our life. Yes too, in practicing self-compassion. Beating ourselves up for mistakes only lowers our self-esteem, blocks our confidence and emotional stability, and makes progress that much harder to achieve. When we don't reach our desired goals when we think we should at any given time, we tend to be hard on ourselves. There isn't a need for us to run around in our day, attempting to control everything so that we don't fail, or that we attain some goal that quite frankly, is more about us, than it is about simply BEING. If we are honest, resolutions that we declare out of tradition on New Year's Eve (or at any other time really) are probably more about our sense of failures and the need to succeed on some arbitrary timeline, than they are about setting any goals that seem practical. 

I can think of many times in my own life where goals and plans fell through, where the amount of growth in my own life wasn't where I wanted it to be, and where achievements were not made when desired. I had hoped for example, to graduate from all my schooling before I turned 40. I had to add a year and rework other plans in order achieve my goal of getting my degree - even if it happened a year later. As frustrating as that was for me, the real goal was getting the degree - not achieving it by some arbitrary timeline. The desire for a certain timeline was simply a lack of grace and a resistance to my own imperfection. You achieve things when you achieve them, and life is always about the process of living. At the time of this writing, I am nearly 51, and have been in practice as a professional counselor for over eight years. What did I miss? The value of one's life (including yours and mine), is actually greater than any one moment in time involving failure or setbacks. Though I can understand how sometimes for all of us, it certainly doesn't feel that way.

Recognizing that our journey through this life is best viewed as one of progress verses one of perfection, may actually help us see the growth we make from year to year, and that the path continues until the day we die. There isn't a need to feel incomplete with our unfinished goals. As long as we recognize that for what little progress we have made, it has changed us - even in the smallest of ways. I would call progress at any level a success, because you were willing to try. You were willing to develop ideas and plans that may or may not succeed. Growth and change comes from the journey, and not the destination. So as you ponder this last calendar year, consider how you will make the next one better. However, allow yourself the grace of self-compassion when you fail, and the awareness of imperfection as part of being human, as you continue the journey. Happy New Year! 

Go Back

Post a Comment