Looking back on 2022, one word comes to mind: transformative. I’ve had the proverbial wind knocked out of me on at least two occasions, grappled with some of the biggest questions I’ve ever held in my little mind, and experienced more love, connection and possibility than I thought possible. I’ve come to know and care for myself more deeply and recognize how much runway still lies ahead. And, as I think about the uncertainty of the New Year, I feel incredibly excited to keep making progress.
So, I’m reevaluating my anchors—checking in with myself to determine what I (think) I know for sure and how these convictions might help me move forward with more intentionality, wisdom, grace and self-respect. Let’s start with the most pressing.
Complacency will kill you.
Many of us know what we “must” do. There’s gnawing at your heart, a tug in a direction that never subsides. Attempts to ignore those calls are futile and likely not in your best interest. I have a few of those, and the longer I ignore them, the louder they become. As the phrase goes, you owe it to yourself to be everything you’ve dreamed… and everything you’ve been called to. Complacency breeds regret, and it’s a miserable example for the world around you.
Stop convincing yourself you’re unworthy of your wildest dreams. You are unbelievably worthy, and now is the perfect time to prove it to yourself.
People with real-life experience and grit are worth their weight in gold.
People without challenging life experiences like to pity those who’ve had them, which I consider naive. It’s easy to insulate yourself from the heaviness of the world. Creating an echo chamber of your own experience and assembling a team of individuals who think exactly as you do is a coping mechanism. Inevitably, life grants all of us bitter experiences. Those around you who haven’t known grief, struggle, or heartbreak won’t be the ones you turn to when you need encouragement. Seek wisdom from those who’ve earned it and inspiration from those with a fierce determination to press on no matter their circumstances.
Self-medication can take many forms. Avoid it.
Oh, look! Here we are discussing complacency again. As the loss of loved ones and friendships, the frustrations of the pandemic, caring for an elderly family member and other issues plagued my mind, distraction became my go-to solution. Why face your life when you can spend hours scrolling through social media and online retail stores? The weight of lost time became very heavy, and I’m glad I was awake enough to notice.
Self-examination is worth your time. Figure out how you’re self-medicating, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, workaholism, shopping, social media or something else entirely. Get clear about the things you’re hiding from and address them at their core. The sooner you do, the sooner you can be proud of yourself for reclaiming your time and moving toward brighter possibilities.
Don’t shy away from connection.
This piece of advice is one I struggle with but still believe wholeheartedly. I’ve lost a handful of people I felt a deep connection to, which makes the idea of walking blindly into friendship and love again a nerve-wracking experience. However, there’s nothing to show for your life if it hasn’t contributed to the people around you, whether they be friends, family, lovers, your community or otherwise. So, jump in feet first and see how you can offer your light to the people you care about. I think the key is embracing connections, new and old, without expectation for reciprocity or attempts to control the outcome (easier said than done!).
Keep an open heart and an open mind.
“Strong opinions loosely held” is a phrase near my heart because it reminds me of two things. One is that it’s important to define your values and identify your foundational convictions. Two is that it’s equally important to temper your self-assurance because life has a funny way of showing you just how little you truly know about the world around you. Stay open to new experiences, new ways of thinking, and new possibilities. There are no limits to how much you can learn from the crazy world we live in and the beautiful souls who inhabit it.
Comparison is a tool. Use it wisely.
I have a framed picture that says, “comparison is the thief of joy.” And while I agree with that, comparison is much more than a method for creating dissatisfaction.
Comparison can also be:
- The end of humility
- A source of inspiration
- A motivational catalyst
- The foundation for gratitude
It’s the reference point we use to orient ourselves in the world around us. Use comparison thoughtfully, and it will serve you well.
Don’t break your own heart.
One thing I know we all struggle with is unmet expectations. In Buddhist philosophy (and many others), the concept of “non-attachment” is thought to be key to reducing suffering. I try to embrace this idea daily, though some days are harder than others. For those of us who can imagine beautiful and inspiring possibilities for ourselves and the people we love, it can be difficult to realize that’s all they are—possibilities. No outcomes are promised to us, but if we choose to appreciate what fate brings into our lives, we’ll soon understand that the outcomes we didn’t premeditate can be even more beautiful than the ones were clinging to so tightly.
Get yourself a good therapist.
I used to be too proud to admit that therapy might be beneficial. However, after a tough family moment in July, I decided to take the plunge. Having a space where I can say virtually anything that’s on my mind without hurting someone I care about or wondering if I sound crazy has been extremely useful. There’s a funny phrase that says, “I go to therapy to deal with the people in my life who don’t go to therapy,” which is a silly oversimplification but also exactly why I ended up in therapy!
Embrace your life while it’s still here!
I spend a fair amount of time in a Dallas memory care facility observing the lives of people nearing the end of their time. It’s heartbreaking and emotionally draining, but it’s also revelatory. Life is short. And I don’t mean short in a cliche or conceptual way—I mean the bus is on fire, the breaks have been cut, and you’re hurdling toward a cliff. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, and the days behind us have already succumbed to time.
So, tell that person you love them and make sure they feel it to their core. It doesn’t even matter if they love you back! Get that project you’ve been dreaming about started today. Visit that friend in another state you keep meaning to reconnect with. Take the day off to see that museum exhibit or scale that mountain. Start ticking off those bucket list destinations. Time is not waiting for you or anyone you love, so you must stop waiting too! (And for the love of God, please enjoy it.)
Let’s have an incredible 2023.
The concepts here really aren’t meant to be advice. They’re for me to meditate on as I set my intentions for 2023, but I do hope they’re useful for you too. Thanks for reading this far, and know that I wish you all the best for the year ahead.
Amazing words of wisdom and great advice Lacey. Keep it up 🙂