Hello new year and welcome back long-standing tradition! It’s been five years since Claudia and I wrote our first Letters to a New Year and, although we fell out of the rhythm last year, I’m so glad to be back at. These letters always prove to be useful to return to, for re-guidance throughout the year or for reflection later. So, let’s get started!
As you likely know by now, mindful year-end reflection and intention-setting at the start of a new year are very special rituals for me. Like every December past, I spent last month re-reading my journals, taking stock of the year that was 2022, and deciding on which ways I want 2023 to be similar and different.
The year that was
2022 was a BIG year for me. It was full of so much movement: my husband and I literally moved to a new town at the same time that Claudia and I were moving this blog to a new hosting service, my husband and I traveled to each of our home countries on three separate occasions, and I embarked on more symbolic moves such as the journey of working with a therapist and becoming a business owner (of my own self-publishing company).
I’m really proud of the moves I made last year and the challenges I’ve overcome. At the same time, it was a lot and I’m very ready to slow things down in the “movement department.” As such, I have homed in on one word to guide my actions and choices this year and that is “evolution.”
I actually wrote an entire blog post on my author blog about how and why I chose this word, so if you are interested in the details of that, please check out that post. Here, however, I would like to outline some of the specifics for how I envision “evolution” influencing my upcoming year.
Evolution in terms of personal growth
For me, “evolution” means continuing to grow everyday, but acknowledging that progress can be slow and often hard-to-detect. Evolution in terms of my personal growth will mean getting better at trusting my process.
Thanks to all of the perspective and self-awareness I’ve gained through therapy over the last year, I often have a good idea of what would be best for me, but I still struggle with articulating those wants/needs or acting on them if doing so would break past patterns. I can now see the path(s) I want to take, but it can be difficult to convince my feet to move in that direction(s).
That’s okay! This is all just a part of the process. In 2023, I will be focusing on “evolution” in an attempt to meet myself where I am, acknowledge all the growth I am constantly undergoing, and then inspire myself to continue making moves in the desired direction.
Specifically, I want to become a kinder, fairer self-critic in 2023, which leads to how I envision “evolution” influencing my work life.
Evolution in terms of professional growth
I have so much in the works professionally for 2023! I plan to continue my author career with numerous book releases which will involve lots more self-editing, working with early readers, working with a professional editor, working with cover design artists, finishing the set-up of my publishing company, expanding distribution to vendors other than Amazon, and marketing. And those are just my plans for the first half of the year–holy guacamole!
My plan for being able to do all of this, may sound counterintuitive, but I’m learning to trust that it will work. What I want to take is more regular breaks. I hope that by allowing myself to move more slowly and steadily towards my goals, I will actually be more successful. I can recognize now that I have all-or-nothing tendencies, which often lead me to giving 110% for weeks on end, then crashing and doing nothing for an extended amount of time.
I’ll feel really great about my progress during the go-go-go times, but guilty and unsatisfied when I burnout. This is neither a sustainable or healthy approach. By focusing on “evolution,” I believe I will be able to counteract these tendencies and create healthier habits for myself. The more often I make time to intentionally rest / play / fill up my cup, the more energy I will have to give to my work later.
To begin my evolution towards this goal, I will strive to take smaller breaks like this the majority of the time, meaning 4 out of 7 days each week. Of course, I will invite myself to be kind in my judgment of this goal, recognizing that even though I may not reach it each week, the pursuit itself represents evolution in the right direction.
Evolution in terms of community growth
Finally, I want to take this evolution mindset into the way I think about community-building. As you know, I’ve had to be rather persistent in my attempts to establish new friendships where I currently live. This has resulted in pushing myself out of my comfort zone and “friend-dating” during the last year.
While I will continue to do these things to try to expand my network of friends in my current community, I will allow “evolution” to remind me that this process is going to be slow-going. When you leave one place to move to another where you don’t know anyone, it’s easy to miss the strong friendships you used to have. However, it’s important to remember that I lived in Granada for seven years and it took time before my sense of community there felt strong.
The same will happen in my new home. In 2023, I will be focusing on nurturing the beautiful relationships I already have (in Spain and abroad). I will also be allotting time regularly to be social and build up new relationships. However, I am encouraging myself to invest in the long-game.
Meaningful relationships take time to develop and I can’t control that process. All I can do is show up to the best of my abilities and remind myself to only expect slow and steady growth. While I will continue to look for opportunities to push myself, try new things, and meet new people, I will balance that out by plenty of honest reflection and social breaks.
Overall, I want to continue to focus on growth in 2023, but having “evolution” as my guiding word will serve as a constant reminder of the kind of growth I am striving for. I’m not looking to speed up the process and see immediate results in any areas of my life. In truth, immediate results are very rarely lasting ones and I’m in this journey for the long-haul.
Instead, I plan to set myself up for success by honoring my process for what it should be–slow, but meaningful growth. It can be scary and difficult to continue on a path when you’re not seeing any obvious results yet. However, that’s how evolution goes. It’s NOT obvious on a day-to-day basis, but I will be challenging myself to trust that it is still happening, that the changes I am making now will create powerful, meaningful change that I will be able to recognize in the future.
That is my intention for 2023. What’s yours? I would love to hear from you in the comments section.