I always am appreciative when someone takes the time to read my blog, and I am especially grateful to receive feedback about what I have written. One of my favorite readers happens to be my special friend, because he both knows me so well and usually is familiar with the topic or story I share, he has a unique perspective about what I write. I was caught completely off-guard when he shared his thoughts about my blog, “Wake Me Up When December Ends“, or more precisely, when he took issue with one sentence from that post.
The offending sentence was, “The most wonderful time of the year for me is when Christmas gives way to the fresh start that a new year brings, and it cannot get here soon enough.” My special friend agreed that the celebration of Christmas has morphed into something that he doesn’t necessarily like, either, so, that wasn’t what gave him pause. No, the part that he objected to was that I always excitedly look to the New Year as the time to start over. After reading the post, he sent me a text to give me a heads up that I may not want to talk with him, explaining that, “I may have to call you out”. I could not possibly imagine what could have evoked this negative response from him, but his late night phone call solved that mystery. What began as a difficult conversation, steeped in confusion and hurt feelings, soon gave way to clarity and healing.
My special friend said that when he read the aforementioned sentence that it struck a nerve with him, as he observed that I use “fresh starts” as an “excuse” and “stay stuck” working on seemingly never-ending goals. As I tried to make sense of what he was saying to me, he continued by asking a series of rapid fire questions, “What do you want?”; “Why do you always have to change something about yourself?”; and “When you reach your goals, then what are you going to do?” The knockout punch was delivered with the pronouncement of, “I think you like the chase or the idea of a goal more than reaching it.” Ouch. My defenses immediately went up, and I prepared to go on the offense. I was silent, but inside, I was screaming a litany of comebacks to dispute his claims. As I prepared to give him some very pointed feedback of my own, he followed up by saying, “Sometimes, I just want to shake you to get you to see what you have. I don’t know why, but I expect more from you and want more for you.” When I realized that he was sharing this feedback from a place of care and concern, even though his delivery was harsher than I would have liked, I called off the counterattack, listened, and let his words register in my mind and heart.
Was my special friend right? Do I really use the promise of a fresh start as an excuse not to move forward toward the completion of my goals? The more I thought about our conversation, the more the truth became apparent, and it hurt. Yes, he was right, and since we are on the subject of truth, he was not the first person to say this to me actually. Several years ago, when I was frustrated with my lack of progress in achieving my fitness goals, I commented that I was just going to start over for the umpteenth time, and my personal trainer suggested, “Stop starting over, and keep going.” I did not grasp what she was saying and stubbornly held on to the belief that every day is a fresh start, that it doesn’t matter how times you have to start over to reach a goal, that second chances abound, and a number of other mantras that I believed to be true. She was right, though, as was my special friend.
I have used the “fresh starts” as a security blanket, in that I may not always do my best to take the necessary steps to be happy and to reach my goals, knowing that I can just try, try, try again. There’s nothing wrong with second chances or fresh starts per se, unless they enable you to remain trapped in a “Groundhog Day” kind of existence, where you keep doing the same thing repeatedly without making progress. The fact is that reaching goals does not happen in a perfect linear fashion, but rather, the path to a goal usually has some unexpected twists, turns, and detours along the way. If you keep going back to the beginning, in the hopes of “getting it right”, you miss out on the lessons you need to learn and the skills you need to acquire keep going to reach said goals. So, the trick is to keep going, instead of to keep going back.
New Year’s Day still is one of my favorite holidays, but not because I am throwing in the towel on this year and waiting to start over on January 1. I am not going back or staying stuck. I am enjoying the present and celebrating all of the progress I already have made, and I am looking forward to the new opportunities and challenges that I will face head on in 2014.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story