This time of year always freaks me out.
“Okay, it’s a new year, Maria,” I say to myself. “A new beginning. A chance to perfectly plan out all of your goals and how you’re going to achieve then within the next 365 days.”
It’s daunting and puts far too much pressure to change a bunch of things in one little year. But the messages we’re surrounded with don’t help either, am I right? The new year seems to be about goal setting and then goal crushing. It’s about shaping your perfect year, and then if you’re not performing up to your high standards, you’re off-track and need to reconfigure your goals.
All good things. Don’t get me wrong. A new year should be an opportunity to begin again. To start fresh and to help us become better humans.
But my Type A, perfectionist-self takes it too far most years and I end up stressing out and calling myself a failure by January 17th.
Not this year, my friends. No way.
A New Approach to the New Year
In 2017, I spent a lot of time trying to scale RunningMyselfTogether and pushing it to grow. But I found that the numbers really stressed me out, and I began comparing my blog to others out there, instead of doing I what I do from the heart. It was a year of growth (yes, for the blog), but primarily for me.
I broke away from some bad habits, I said no to what didn’t serve me any more, and I ventured out into the world on the most spiritually enlightening trip I could ever be blessed to take. (Which you can read about here and here.)
And I met this handsome man. 🙂
Through the good, I was still bogged down with a lot of stress and worry. I felt like I needed to be performing and proving to the world (and you) that I was capable of doing “all the things.” Which, as you could imagine, took a toll on my mental health, my body, and my relationships.
So this year, my resolution is simply:
What does that mean? And why?
What It Means to Do Less
For me, doing less means not filling my calendar with a bunch stuff that will ultimately stress me out. It means not worrying about how I appear to the world. It means not trying to be perfect at everything. It means creating space.
Creating space so that I can spend more time listening, building relationships, reading, writing, praying, being creative.
And binge watch a TV show. Did you know I’ve never “binge watched” a TV show? I’ve always thought, “That’s not productive. That’s not helping me get where I want to go.” Forget that. This year I’m binge watching a show and snuggling into my couch and not worrying about what isn’t getting done.
You see, when we spend more time simply being present, simply being quiet, simply letting go of what the world says we should be doing, we create room to grow and explore. And from those quiet moments, I’ve found that creativity flows.
Be Like Mary in a World of Marthas
As I journeyed to map out what ‘doing less’ looks like, I turned to the Bible. Before opening up the Word I prayed, “Lord, speak to me through your Word. Help me see what this new year’s resolution means to You.” As I read through a few parables, I stumbled upon the story of Mary and Martha in Luke.
“How could I forget this story!” I said with excitement. In the Catholic Church, when a member is confirmed he or she takes on the name of a saint, otherwise known as his or her “Confirmation Name.” The saint is meant to serve as an example of a faithful Christian and we often ask for them to pray for us. Just like you’d ask a friend or a relative.
My confirmation saint is Martha…
In the story, Martha is stressed and worried as Jesus enters her home. She’s cleaning and cooking and preparing and doing her best to make sure everything is just right for our Lord. But in her hurriedness, she gets frustrated with her sister Mary, who’s spending time listening to Jesus instead of doing the work that needs to be done.
She says, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work my myself? Tell her to come and help me!” (Luke 10:40)
To which Jesus replies, “Martha! Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, but just one is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
What Can We Learn From This Story?
I chose Martha as my Confirmation saint, because I identify with her. When I read this story, I want to yell, “Yasssss, Martha, I know what you feel like!” But as soon as I’m done empathizing with her, Jesus swoops in and quickly readjusts her priorities. As He does mine.
And He can do that for you and me if we let Him. So this year, I will be doing less busy work, less stressing, less trying to make everything “just so,” so that I can listen for His calling within my life.
I’m going to do less.
What are you doing in 2018 to improve your life – mind, body, and spirit? Comment below!
And, as always, feel free to reach out to me. Happy New Year, my friends!