This blog suddenly combined about five separate blog ideas that I’ve been wanting to write about for a while – so…get comfy!
I’m a lover of the holidays and the excitement of a new year. This year, however, I was feeling a little lost and overwhelmed.
Recently I’ve been debating whether I should even have any goals: aside from better financial stability, our life is pretty darn great. Sometimes, however, I look at other people’s lives as they are jet-setting around the world with their children, or buying things I could only dream of affording,
The social media induced jealousy kicks in, and I have to remind myself that their life is not my life. Maybe they’ve worked their asses off more than I’ve ever been willing to work my ass off. Maybe they’re dealing with some really difficult situations that I hope I never have to deal with. Maybe they come from affluent families so their lifestyle is just their normal. This is where my super jealousy kicks in: why wasn’t I born into a family with inside connections at Yale or Harvard to land me in a six figure job? Or with a summer cottage on Cape Cod? Or hey, maybe just a trust fund from grandpa?! But then I bring myself back to what I WAS born into: a family with no lack of love/compassion/affection, a roof over my head and food on the table at all times, no trauma, I grew up in a country of freedoms and possibilities, etc., etc.
So how much more can I ask for? I have an incredibly amazing husband, two healthy, smart, and beautiful boys, a cozy home that I’m in love with, and amazing and supportive family. Is it fair to ask more of life? Should I really be trying to get MORE out of life? Or should I just be happy and content with where I am, instead of always looking for something else to achieve or accomplish?
In talking to Jeff about these thoughts, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should still strive for success. People didn’t become successful in life by being complacent with what they had, right? I recently read Girl, Wash Your Face, and Handcrafted. Both books have the overarching theme of setting a big life goal/dream, and how they achieved it. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what my big goal in life is. WHAT DO I WANT? One of my biggest fears right now is to think I’ll look back on my life when I’m 60/70/80, and realize I lived my life passively – never going for the big ticket items, staying in my comfort zone, never taking risks, never doing the things I really wanted to do. But…WHAT DO I WANT?
I can’t decide if I want to be self-employed so I can spend more time at home with the boys (but how will those student loans get paid off? What could I possibly do to make enough money on my own? What about our benefits? What about that pension plan?), find a job that pays more so we’re not stressing every month (but what kind of stress and hours will that come with? Will I hate what I’m doing? I’ll surely have to commute! How can anything that I love/enjoy doing possibly pay me more than I’m making now?), think long term and stick with the security of my benefits and that pension plan (am I settling? Was I made to do more? Am I making a difference?), or move somewhere where we can buy property and live like Chip and Jo (how could we possibly move away from our family? We love our neighbors! How will I learn to milk a cow?!).
On the other end of the big life goals, are the little (but really, the big ones) life goals: our kids are growing up so fast: how do I make the most of this time? How can I be a more patient mother that doesn’t lose it after asking (and being asked) the same question five times? (Mom. Mommy. Mommy. MOMMY. MOOOOOOOMMYYYYYYY).
Let’s rewind a little to the holidays and the lead up to Christmas. I love Christmas. I look forward to nights on our couch with the Christmas lights on and all our decorations, garlands, and nacimientos, basically from the moment we clean them up from the year before. But this year it seemed like a lot of WORK. Getting all the decorations down from our rafters in the garage. Sorting through them and figuring out what to put where. Storing all the year-round decor. And finally trying to put some of those boxes back up in the rafters so I’m not cursing them each time I go do our laundry in the garage for the whole month of December.
But, once it was done, I loved it. We had amazing nights cuddling on the couch with our lights on, fireplace going, watching Christmas classics (Home Alone, A Christmas Story, and a new one we’ve watched about five times: Christmas Chronicles). My heart was so full and happy!
I also had a little more anxiety about gifts for everyone this year. We’re usually broke enough that it’s not a concern (ha!), but the last couple of years Jeff’s holiday photo shoots has given us the luxury of a well gifted Christmas. We really wanted to spoil our parents this year, so we tried to buy them several things each. And the boys? Well, it’s hard as a parent to not want to buy them EVERYTHING. Even knowing that it will end up in a pile in the toy room. And the living room. And our bedroom. And the dinning room table.
But all of those gifts require thought and time.
So this Christmas was my first big exercise in letting go. Letting go of all the Christmas events I wanted us to go to but just couldn’t make it work. Letting go of not being able to do all of the things. Letting go of the DIY gift idea for our parents that on Christmas eve I just didn’t have the energy to pull off (but hey, maybe next year!). And as hard as it was for me to make those decisions and move on, once each of those decisions was made, so much weight was lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t have to stress about the million little logistics to make that event or thing happen.
And you know what? Christmas didn’t suck because I let all of those things go. We had a wonderful Christmas eve with our parents, a great Christmas morning at home with the boys, and then we headed off to Arizona to see family.
My in-laws rented us hotel rooms, and it was a great experience with the boys: it was like the four of us having a sleepover in one big room! Our first morning waking up in the hotel, Jake asked if we would hide his bajillion dinosaurs so he could go on a dino hunt. I found myself starting my usual response of “right after I do the dishes/laundry/pick up/fix breakfast/feed Gogo Dojo (our awesome beta)/etc.” and realized: I’m not home, I have nothing to do. And it was the greatest feeling in the world to say “sure!” to him with no reservations, no feelings of “I should be doing this instead.” I did have a stark realization that my constant “I have to do this first” is not going unnoticed when I used one of those responses with Jake before, and he replied, not happily, “you ALWAYS have to do [x, y, z].” How much mommy guilt can a mommy take?!
All of this to say that I’m trying to figure out what I want to focus on this year, and what I want my goals to be, and I feel like letting go of things and focusing on quality family time are big ones this year.
I also think I’ve been overthinking things: I’ve been trying to nail down these very specific goals – but maybe setting generic goals is my first step. I’ve been trying to take advice I keep hearing: give yourself grace. So in giving myself grace, I’ll settle for some big picture goals that I’ll have to break down further:
- Be present: let things go so I can focus on the moment with my family, and give myself grace in moments of exasperation (I need to be better about admitting that I can’t do all things at one time). I also decided to limit my social media time, so I deleted Instagram and Facebook apps off my phone – it was actually a huge relief to not “have” to check them every time I picked up my phone. This has also helped with my social media lifestyle jealousy.
- Financial stability and comfort: something to strive for, but honestly no idea how to get there. I did recently come across this book, so maybe I’ll give that a read.
- Figure out what makes me happy and feeling fulfilled at work: I think this will take a while, and I’ve decided not to make it a priority for now. I think with the kids being so young and this season of our life being so fleeting, I want to focus on my first goal, and maybe figure this one out along the way.
So, my word for the year? Passionate. I want to be passionate about my family, my work, my home. I want to be excited about what I’m doing.
What are your goals? Do you like setting goals, or do you think they’re a waste of effort? Any advice on how to achieve my goals? :-P