Your Perfect Effort

As I watched the ball drop with my family (from the comfort of my couch of course), I felt grateful for the toasts, hugs, and kisses that came with the stroke of midnight. The promise of a New Year.  A better year I hoped.  Sure, I knew what I wanted for myself; some good races lined up, more time being ‘present’ with my family and friends, getting my books done and published on line.  Having an emotions workshop for kids that would have Shel Silverstein shaking his ‘Giving Tree’ in envy.   But what my main goal was, well… that would be a challenge.  A real test of my tolerance.  My fortitude.

In past years I would set my eye on the target (whatever my goal) and if I went off the tracks in the ‘slightest,’ I was just as happy give myself as many mental body-shots as needed to finally cry ‘uncle’ and scrap whatever goal I was reaching for. Of course I wasn’t honest about it!  I would just mentally pull the rug out from under myself, and limp along half-heartedly.  Not expecting to succeed, I wasn’t too disappointed when it didn’t work out.

This year my singular goal over all others is to be accepting and honest with myself. To be gentle with myself when my efforts are ‘true’ and a target is missed, and to move forward with my efforts regardless.  To ‘bring myself to court’ and look at all the facts before throwing in the towel mentally after a bad beat.  To keep in my mind that mistakes aren’t just forgivable, they’re teachers, and that most likely anyone who accomplished anything worth accomplishing was probably fluent in them.

As you consider your hopes, goals, and the promises you make to yourself this year, consider that your goals are less about the unyielding linear successes you’ll make, and more about your unwavering resolution to have your own back during your efforts. Like a potter who throws clay on the wheel, the molding, shaping, and sculpting of your goals is not a clean act.  There is no perfect action to get it all right the first time.  The wheel spins while you’re creating, spitting the mud and water of your doubts and fears.

You must be comfortable with getting your hands dirty. For form to fail.  For setbacks.  To start over, even when the changes you make are applauded by others, if they weren’t the changes you were looking for.  Your resilience will give you the strength to push through temporary setbacks, but it will be your faith in yourself that will keep your efforts honest and moving forward.  Even with all of this, pain and uncertainty will be your companions.  And Thank God.  Because pain and uncertainty are unavoidable and necessary for lasting change.  Without them, you would miss out on the greatest fruit of all of your efforts: Gratitude.  Your ability to fully focus on what goals you truly find important, beautiful, and critical to your life, while identifying all the superficial glazes, finishes, and textures that have taken up space in your thoughts too long, and discarding them.

My New Year’s Resolution? This year, I hope to clearly see my imperfections, and to have faith in myself anyway.  To accept my setbacks, learn from them, and to stay the path no matter how many times it falls out from under me.  To not shy away from the pain and uncertainty that is required for me to reach my goals, and to keep a vigilant eye out for even the most minuscule, beautiful moments in my life.  Because it will be those moments that will keep the fire of gratitude stoked in my heart when dealing with my failures along the way to my successes.

Happy New Year!

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