How I Found Happiness Before the New Year

How I Found Happiness Just In Time for the New Year

When does the New Year’s countdown really begin for you? For me, it starts way before the crowds gather to watch the ball drop in Times Square.

This horrible, relentless countdown. With it comes a self-imposed set of rules and deadlines that have taken over my productive brain.

Initially, I was all in… “Let’s do this!” But now, with fewer days left in the year than I can count on one hand, I’m left in a strange trance-like state.

You see, there’s an unfinished list of to-dos from this year. And it’s not the kind of list that you can quickly knock out.

My list has a “Business” and a “Personal” section. It includes tasks like, finish painting those tiny tiles on the kitchen backsplash, hang the shelves, get the car repaired from the car-meets-pole teenage driver incident from three years ago, taxes (ugh), edit the ebook, rewrite the web copy, clear out the inbox… and, of course, prep for Q1.

No wonder my brain has shut down.

Note to self: Staring at your laptop does NOT equal getting shit done.

This lack of productivity makes my inner critic squeal with delight as she can go on her tirade of “I told you so” and “you are useless” badgering and breaking down of my character, piece by piece.

I have a choice here. I can simply allow the floaty feeling I’m having and be present in it, or I can fight the hell out of it and step into the new year a drained, defeated and a lost soul. One will shut that inner critic down by ignoring her, the other will give her more power.

Door number one, please.

I recently learned from talking with friends that I’m not alone. It’s this in-between Christmas and New Year’s black hole, where it feels like we’re supposed to do something but we’re not even sure what that is.

When we get into this stuck spot, it’s hard to climb out. I know this all too well.

This week I chose to lean in and just allow this feeling of zero control. I looked at it, brought it on my long dog walks, journaled about it, got on the treadmill, went to yoga. Sweating through it seemed to help me cross over. Its grip began to loosen and two simple words came through loud and clear…

LET GO.

Letting go is not as simple as it sounds. At least not for me. It meant more walking, more sweaty yoga, and more listening.

As I did this, I came face to face with my present truth. As much as I want to be bouncing off the walls and experiencing completion, I feel tired. Tired from the past year of growing a business. Emotionally drained from my daughter graduating in June. Drained from being a mom, the head of household, the boss. Exhausted learning to be okay with not being liked sometimes, from trying and succeeding, and from sometimes just missing the mark.

But then I look at that list. Mixed into this bag of last year’s experiences, is love, growth, laughter, new awareness, huge accomplishments!

And something clicked. It’s okay to feel tired. It’s okay to need to rest!

In her book Self-Compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff teaches how asking a simple question can pull us out of a stuck place: “Do you want to be happy or do you want to be sad?”

I believe that holding on to the shoulds and the rules (aka, the list) is like gripping onto sadness. It will never be done; it will never be good enough; it’s a setup.

Earlier this week, I officially released myself from the self-imposed deadlines and crazy lists for the remainder of the year. (And I won’t be watching the ball drop from a TV screen at midnight on the 31st, which counts as a wretched “should” to me.)

The best part is that I’m a lot happier. That weird buzzing feeling is still there a bit, but I just notice it and let it go.

I may have to tattoo it on my wrist so I don’t forget, but “Let Go” is my mantra for the rest of this year and into next.

Because I choose “happy.”

Share this with your friends.

2 comments

Sara Dickison Taylor

BRAVO…your transparent words truly hit the mark with me… thank you! Look out 2018! 👍😊🎉

I’m with Sara and am adding my YES! This right here is precisely how I’ve been feeling this week. Honestly, I don’t really kick into “new year, new start” mode until February. Too much pressure and I’m exhausted from just getting through the holiday.

Thank you for putting how I’ve been feeling into words.

Leave a Reply