Let’s talk resolutions. I know many of you know how rabid I am about them. While resolutions feel aspirational and then guilt-inducing to a lot of people, to me, they give me a roadmap of what I want to get done in the year.
More than that, it gives me a way of assessing how I did in December. Every single woman reading this—whether you have children or not, whether you run your own company or not—will never complete the to-list in our heads. We will always feel some obligation left undone, some head-f**k of “Was I a good enough friend this year?” Some voice saying you aren’t enough of something.
For me, a great way of quelling those voices is data: This is what I wanted to do this year, so how did I do against my own goal of what success would look like in 12 months? If I did well, than those voices can go suck an egg.
In 2018, I did great. Probably the closest I’ve come in a long, long time to marking off everything on my list. And I also accomplished a lot of things that I didn’t know would be on my list at the beginning of the year.
That lead me to ask myself a buried question when I was on vacation a few weeks ago: If that’s the case, why am I so unhappy a lot of the time?
When I’m with my kids or throwing a party for badass women or consumed in work, I feel great. When I’m not, when I try to take a pause, I frequently feel sad. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to figure out why.
I have a lot of resolutions in 2019, but the big one is a shift in how I’m going to live. I’m not going to live in the moment, because running a company and having kids requires some forward thinking. But I am going to live in the year.
This is a big shift for me, because I tend to live in and plan for the future. What are the kids going to be like in junior high? Am I preparing them for this brutal world full of so many bigots? I know Chairman Mom can survive another year…But what about after that!? Say we are as successful as I think we’ll be…Can I really be the CEO of a company growing that fast? Will I ever get off the financial treadmill of single-mom San Francisco living? Am I too old to ever have more children? Will Donald Trump win a second term? These are the questions causing me stress and making me unhappy. Not what is happening now or even in 12 months. My life is pretty together right now. But what might or might not happen in, say, five years is another story.
In so many ways, I feel like I’m in the last third of a marathon that I’ve been unwisely sprinting at for the last 20-plus years. If I think about those miles coming up, I’ll quit because I am just too tired. But if I focus on the single mile in front of me, I can do at least that.
It’s a hackneyed metaphor but an apt one for me, because it’s learning to run that unlocked a lot of this for me in 2018. I couldn’t run for a single minute without feeling like I was going to die one year ago. No exaggeration. Despite setbacks like a pulled knee and my long undiagnosed asthma, I ended the year able to run, easily and enjoyably, for an hour. This may not sound like a big deal to any marathoners out there, but for me this represented one of the only things I’ve set my mind to that I truly didn’t think I could do.
What’s worked for me in running is focusing on 10-minute increments. I’m historically no good at meditation, so this has become one of the most rigorous mental muscles I’ve ever had to develop. To force myself for an hour or more to not race ahead, and not to focus on the now, but the current near-term goal. Call it a “minimum viable unit.” Something that easily adds up to a large accomplishment but feels doable in the moment.
I realized this mental-muscle helped me with other goals last year. I am a slow reader, in part because I’m dyslexic. And this past year I wanted to read a book a week. I got woefully behind with Chairman Mom’s launch, but I managed to dig my way out. On vacation, I read roughly a book a day. That’s rapid for me even with nothing else to do.
What changed? I found that I was reading in 10-page increments. Ten goals, and I’ve done 100 pages. Do that six more times and even a 600-page book is suddenly done. Breaking it down mentally into a minimum viable unit somehow made the same task easy.
I have a list of more than a dozen resolutions for 2019, but my biggest is to take this approach with work and my personal life this year—to not allow my mind to race ahead more than 12 months.
What do you want to remake about your life in 2019? Let our community help you get there!