Relax? What is this foreign word??

2017. What a start! I have already found myself repeating the gentle reminder that we’re only 11 days in…11 days in… Relax, Katie.

This year started off with catching whatever terrible bug was going around, and I rounded out 2016 in urgent care with a chest infection, the flu, and a cold all at once. I’ve been trying to rest, and a dear friend reminded me a few days ago that “productive resting” is tempting, but not fruitful. I’m not a die-hard resolutions person, but I do enjoy setting some goals if I think of something really meaningful. I spent the last few weeks of 2016 determining what I wanted to achieve, why it would make me a better person, and how exactly to get it all done through developing a very thorough course of action (you can ask some of my friends – I think they were *slightly* overwhelmed by my 12 month plan!). And yet as I’ve already slept more than I anticipated and taken more time off work than I expected, I’ve had to remind myself to extend some grace to myself and relax.

I recently asked my mom how she would describe me as a child, and I was surprised that the first three things she said were that I was incredibly introspective, highly focused on achievements, and extremely competitive. Even as a child, I internally set lofty goals for myself that I didn’t necessarily share until they were accomplished because I didn’t want to fail. I was okay with disappointing myself, but I was terrified of sharing what I was working towards unless I knew I would be successful and hit my goals. My mom said she could never figure out why I would work so hard when I was at the top of my class and had already secured an “A;” it wouldn’t be until the end of the year I would share something like, “I wanted to get over 100% because my teacher said no one had done it before,” or “Last year I got 200 points in my AR reading and the librarian said I couldn’t get any higher. I wanted to see if I could double it this year.” (In both instances I did…are you seeing a pattern??)

I’ve been thinking about this the past few days, and I know as I have grown older, I’ve become more okay with sharing goals and inviting other people in. It’s hard for me though, and I feel that pressure to succeed and accomplish so much more when other people know what I’m striving toward. Maybe “weight” is a better word. As I repeatedly thought through what I wanted to accomplish in 2017, I found myself thinking through all the angles of each goal, making a preliminary plan to see if I felt it was doable, and then I invited others in to either participate or cheer me forward. (So maybe I haven’t changed as much as I’d thought ;)) Even though 2017 hasn’t started like I anticipated, if I take a step back, I realize we’re only 11 days in – and I’m doing just fine.

I’m still excited about the year ahead, and I want to share a few of my favorite resolutions from my growing list:

1) Finish a book every other week

This is the resolution I have spent the most time planning for and may be the most overwhelming if you ask me the details (or if I just start explaining them to you because I’m excited). To set myself up to succeed, I split the year into quarters and realized reading one book every other week means I can read 6 books each quarter. I then determined six categories of books I’d like to read (e.g., physical health, emotional intelligence, spirituality, socio-political, financial literacy, free choice), chose four books in each category, and began researching which books I could get at the library, which ones I wanted to listen to on Audible, which I could borrow, and which I wanted to purchase. Retention of the information was also important to me, so I made the commitment to write a short review/synopsis of each book after I finished. I was so excited to get started, I’ve actually already read three books on my list and am over halfway done with another two! I’ve been reminded I am very determined when I set my mind to something!

2) Build muscle

SMART goals are my thing, and I first want to say I know this doesn’t follow the SMART principle. However, I’ve chosen to leave this one more open-ended and flexible because I have struggled with my health and my physical body for the past few years since being in a car accident. It’s been a long road, even though my pain and injuries aren’t always apparent, and I don’t want to over commit in this area and sustain or aggravate any injuries. With that being said, it’s been encouraging to work with my physical therapist and trainer to slowly build muscle and become stronger, even if the milestones aren’t near where they used to be. Slow and steady in this category, and I’m trusting that perseverance and consistency are key. A smaller goal within this category is to take advantage of doing a Bod Pod assessment so I can compare in a few months – that’s my goal for January!

3) Cultivate and strengthen meaningful relationships

I’ve realized a lot of people can take my time, but this year I want to be more intentional about the people I say “Yes” and “No” to. In her new book Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequiest (yes, this on my list and it’s already been an amazing read) talks about identifying those people who are your inner circle – your home team – that no matter what the situation or what time they may call, you always answer and are always there for them. There are a few friends and my family who I knew were already on the list, but it has been powerful to think through the people in my life and intentionally decide who to pick for my home team and how I can support them fully.

I smile whenever I finally slow down from the hustling and come back to these, because I can’t help but think how much my life will be enriched by focusing on these three areas (plus the others on my longer list…that I’m not sharing with you yet ;)). When I was a kid, I let fear keep me from bringing others into the process. Since then, I’ve learned that the journey is more important than the outcome, and the people more important than any final destination point. My definition of success is shifting from a list of accomplishments to continually making the choice to keep moving forward, regardless of the outcome. so 2017 – I’m ready for you!

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