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Living life post January 01st...

“Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day in the year.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
– Oprah Winfrey

So, with January being done and dusted, I think that it is safe to say that 2018 is well underway and if you’re anything like the average person – which by the way is not a bad thing – then at the start of the year, you had probably set out all of your new year’s resolutions and you were ready to take 2018 by the horns. Now, if you watched my first Facebook livestream of 2018, then you will already know that I am not the new year’s resolution setting type of person. I used to set new years resolutions almost religiously but then as the year wore on, those goals and dreams that I was so excited about setting for myself January 01st would almost always fizzle out and die well before December 31st. This cycle went on and on for years until eventually, I just had enough!

Enough was enough!

I got so sick and tired of not saving money like I said I would; not eating healthily and exercising regularly like I envisioned doing January 01st; not walking with God as closely as I promised Him I would and most of all, I got really sick and tired of the guilt and the sense of failure that came with looking at myself in the mirror and realising that I was still in the exact same spot that I was in 365 days earlier! I was still as broke as I had always been. I still had the extra weight that I vowed to lose.

"I used to set new years resolutions almost religiously but then as the year wore on, those goals and dreams that I was so excited about setting for myself January 01st would almost always fizzle out and die well before December 31st."

My walk with God still wasn’t what I hoped it would be… And it seemed to me that everywhere I looked, everyone else seemed to be making progress with their lives except for me! High school peers were studying at university, getting their degrees and seeming to land their dream jobs; close friends were finding the one, getting married and sailing off into the sunset to live happily ever after with their prince charming, and then there was me…a broke, single-pringle with no clear future and making little progress towards achieving basic goals like losing a little weight…

"...I got really sick and tired of the guilt and the sense of failure that came with looking at myself in the mirror and realising that I was still in the exact same spot that I was in 365 days earlier!"

That feeling of failure, inadequacy and shame was something that used to weigh heavily on me for a long, long time. I was so confused as to what I was doing wrong. Everyone is moving forward in life, except for me, so what am I doing wrong? Not having an immediate answer to that question grated on my nerves! I was so frustrated that I seemed to be making no progress in this thing called life that in order to cope with my growing despair, I would lose myself in fantasy and escapism.

In my mind, I would dream of a utopian world where everything went my way and I was happy, fulfilled and had a clear sense of direction and purpose in my life. In my perfect world, I was neither scared nor unsure of what the future held because I felt that I was adequate enough to face it. Nothing would ever go wrong for me in this fictitious world and every time the cold, hard realities of this world came knocking, my mind would travel to the distant lands of my happy universe…
But here’s the thing about fantasy, it’s just that! A fantasy! And no amount of wishing, longing and escapism will ever change the realities which you need to confront. Escapism only delays the inevitable – that you need to face what is going on in your life, take responsibility for it, do what you can to change it and entrust the rest into God’s hands. I know, right! It is way easier said than done.

So, here’s the question we need to ask ourselves: Is there a way to actually achieve all the goals we set out for ourselves at the start of the year? Is there a way to feel like you can make some real progress and changes in your life that lasts year-round? Is there a way to avoid resorting to escapism and feeling like a failure in light of the failed new years resolutions that we first set out for themselves? I would like to think that, yes there is. I would like to believe that there is a way to create and live a life that brings you great joy and fulfillment and in this post, I would like to encourage you with some practical tips that I implement in my own life that have really made a difference for me and that I think can help you too.

"...I would lose myself in fantasy and escapism...But here’s the thing about fantasy, it’s just that! A fantasy! And no amount of wishing, longing and escapism will ever change the realities which you need to confront. Escapism only delays the inevitable – that you need to face what is going on in your life, take responsibility for it, do what you can to change it and entrust the rest into God’s hands."

Now, before I go any further, I feel I need to give this one IMPORTANT disclaimer: if you have been around Dents In My Crown for a minute, you would know that I always say that by no means am I an expert nor do I have it all together, so when I share these tips or give you some advice, I never want it to come from a place of pride within me nor for it to seem to you like I have it all together because the simple truth is that, I don’t! Like the average person, I screw up, I make mistakes and I get things wrong on a frighteningly regular basis, so in no way am I trying to guide you as someone who has it all under control or as someone who has all of the answers because I do not. My sincere desire and hope is that in sharing my thoughts with you something I say to you in the videos that I make or in the blog posts that I write – like this post – can help you as you seek to make the changes that you want to see in your life. I am cheering for you and I am rooting for you and this post, and indeed the entire blog is just me trying to help you on your journey so please take it as the encouragement that it is intended to be and not as if I am a know-it-all!

"...Is there a way to actually achieve all the goals we set out for ourselves at the start of the year? Is there a way to feel like you can make some real progress and changes in your life that lasts year-round? Is there a way to avoid resorting to escapism and feeling like a failure in light of the failed new years resolutions that we first set out for themselves? I would like to think that, yes there is..."

So, with that said, let’s dive right in…

I mentioned to you earlier that I do believe that it is possible for you to attain all the goals that you set out for yourself at the start of the year and if I could be so bold as to give you advice, then this is what I would say…

1.You don’t have to wait for it to be a “New year, New Me” in order to start making real, positive and concrete changes in your life!
In 2017, one of the lessons that really hit me in the face is this: time is not promised to you. It’s bleak but it’s true. Time is not promised to you!

Death visits us all and while last year was a year where a lot of good things happened to and for me, it was also a year where I saw death’s hand reach out and touch a lot of people’s lives – some close to me. For me, 2017 started and ended with the untimely passing of loved ones and even during the course of the year, more loved ones were lost. Grief is a curious thing because on the one hand while it makes you mourn the passing of a life which you so valued and so deeply loved, on the other hand, it can help you celebrate and cherish life all the more by reminding you that each moment is so sweet and precious and valuable because you never know which moment might be your last one. It’s bleak but it’s true.

However, the alleged bleakness, there is a silver lining…

Because time on this earth is not promised to you, how much more should you not seek to make every day which you’re alive a chance to start over or to make the fresh start that you so desperately desire? Why wait for the new year to be a new you? Why wait at all?  You don’t have to let 365 days pass in order for you to start making changes in areas of your life which you know need changing.  Any change worth making is worth making now!
So why wait?

"...time is not promised to you...Because time on this earth is not promised to you, how much more should you not seek to make every day which you’re alive a chance to start over or to make the fresh start that you so desperately desire?"

Time is not promised to you. Tomorrow is not a given. You don’t know that you will always have a chance to make the changes that you want to see in your life, so why wait for tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year to make changes you have the chance to make today? No day is promised to you and you have no guarantee that you will indeed wake up tomorrow, so today while you are alive, make the most of this day and make it count. Change what needs to be changed while you still have the time to change it and live each day with purpose, with intention and live each day deliberately! Live your life on purpose, with purpose! Make working on yourself and bettering yourself a lifestyle and not just a new year’s resolution!

2.Make changes that stick.
Learning not to bite off more than I can chew is definitely something that I need to work on more! I don’t know about you but sometimes, I can get so excited (and therefore carried away!) when I’m working on something new or when I have a new idea/plan in the works. I start concocting plans, setting deadlines and creating timelines for when I want to see my goals and dreams achieved and while I do think that there is nothing inherently wrong with this, I have found that – at least for me – I need to be very careful not to bite off more than I can chew. Again, I do believe that there is good in pushing yourself to try and exceed your limits but what is equally true and important is making sure that you don’t overwhelm yourself but setting unrealistic deadlines and timelines. Basically, what I am trying to say is set attainable goals and give yourself a realistic time frame in which to achieve it.

"...time is not promised to you...Because time on this earth is not promised to you, how much more should you not seek to make every day which you’re alive a chance to start over or to make the fresh start that you so desperately desire?"

Let’s take weight loss for example: If you have been keeping up with me on my YouTube channel then you would know that I am on a weight loss journey. Now, I haven’t determined exactly just how much weight I would like to lose, but let’s say for argument sake that I want to lose 20kg’s (Don’t judge, ok!) I need to be realistic and accept the fact that I am not going to lose 20kg’s in one month – no matter how many times I go to the gym, how healthy I eat or how much water I drink.

It’s just not going to happen. What I think would be a better thing to do is to break up my big goal of losing 20kg’s into more realistic “bite-size” portions. I could try and aim to lose 5kg’s per month for the next four months, thus making my overall goal of losing 20kg’s more realistic and attainable and I have set up a tangible goal for my self that is less daunting and intimidating than staring 20kg’s in the face. With that “mini goal” in place, now I can try and find some practical steps which I can take that will help me not only lose weight but also achieve my overall goal.

The point I am trying to make through this analogy is this: make changes that stick! I think the reason why more often than not so many of our new year’s resolutions fizzle out and die is because we fail to plan for their success. It’s all well and fine to set goals and dreams but then we need to take it a step further and try to figure out how best we can go about achieving them, otherwise, our goals and dreams will only ever remain good ideas that are so far out there and never become attainable. It’s all well and fine to have big goals and dreams for yourself but you need to be both realistic and practical in going about achieving them. My husband and I call it eating our elephant piece by piece.

I forget how exactly we came up with this phrase but what I do know is that this is something we began saying to each other early on in our relationship.

"...what I am trying to say is set attainable goals and give yourself a realistic time frame in which to achieve it."

Whenever we had days or experienced moments when we were feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how we would tackle a certain task or best to handle something big that fell on our plates, we remind ourselves to eat our elephant piece by piece. If I am beginning to get stressed out and agitated overwork, when I start to feel like I can’t possibly handle something that has come up, my wonderful hubby holds me in his arms and asks me, “How do you eat an elephant?” to which I reply, “Piece by piece.” Sometimes the roles are reversed and it is me who asks the questions but the point I am trying to make is that this little conversation reminds us to take on the big stuff little by little and over time, we will see the fruition of big dreams coupled with hard work.

So, my question to you is how are you going to eat your elephant?

 3. Walk your path at your own pace
If you’ve been around Dents In My Crown for a while, you have most probably already heard me say that comparison is the thief of joy. Nothing can kill your joy quicker than discontentment and a lack of gratitude for what you have. I think that it is one thing to genuinely admire something that someone else has but it is another thing entirely to let their having something which you like and possibly want, to affect your life and steal your joy.

"If you’ve been around Dents In My Crown for a while, you have most probably already heard me say that comparison is the thief of joy. Nothing can kill your joy quicker than discontentment and a lack of gratitude for what you have."

By all means, have an appreciation for what someone else might have that you like and even use that as positive motivation towards working hard so that you too can achieve the same thing. I think that there is room for that, but, I would also encourage you to be careful in not lusting after what you think someone has. Admire them, emulate them, learn from them but do not become so obsessed with your perception of what you think their life is like that you start to resent and become discontent with your life and all the beauty within it.

And I know that this can be hard to do in the world of social media where everyone readily broadcasts the highlight reel of their life. It can be so easy to log on social media and feel like you are doing something wrong because your life does not seem as glittery or as glam as someone else’s Instagram photos. I get it. Believe you me, I totally get it – contentment is hard – but remember that contentment is also a choice! Sure, your life may not seem as exciting as all the celebs, makeup guru’s and YouTube personalities out there but it remains your life and if you so choose, I’m sure that you can find some joy and contentment in it. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy and contentment is a choice.

So, what does this have to do with sticking to new years resolutions?

 

This: don’t get too caught up in wanting to change what is wrong with your life that you forget to embrace and appreciate all that is right with your life. By all means, work hard towards achieving your new year’s resolutions but dot fall into the trap of thinking that you will only be happy or satisfied once you have that thing that you are working towards. Again, contentment is a choice and happiness is an inside job.

"...don’t get too caught up in wanting to change what is wrong with your life that you forget to embrace and appreciate all that is right with your life...Again, contentment is a choice and happiness is an inside job."

Sure, you may not be happy about the things that you are wanting to change in your life but do not make the mistake of thinking that your whole life is now subpar because you don’t own or have yet to attain your goal/s. Your life may not be perfect but there is still a lot that you have to be thankful for in it, so don’t forget that while in the process of bettering the areas in your life in which you long to see some change. Remember that there is always room for change and growth but there is also more than enough room to be thankful and grateful for the things which you do have. Aspiring to a better future doesn’t mean losing gratitude for your present.
So all that to say, as you faithfully and diligently work towards achieving those news years resolutions which you set out for yourself, be sure to be as faithful and diligent is practising gratitude and thanking God for all the countless blessings you do have because even though you aren’t yet where you want to be, you also aren’t as worse off as you could be…

So, here’s to you working hard and achieving all that you hope to accomplish this year!

Happy new years (resolutions!)

1. The face behind the blog…

Dents In My Crown creator, Rachel Baskin, is a:
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