So it's about two weeks into the new year and it's taken me a long time to come up with some resolutions for 2014. I usually like a good goal-setting opportunity; it's often part of my daily job and I've read enough O Magazine to know that it's a good step towards getting things accomplished. But it just wasn't coming for me- I was making resolutions to make resolutions. Pretty meta, but not productive.
After watching others declare their resolutions on social media and diving into some Super Soul Sunday (I love me some Oprah), I've gravitated towards the idea of having a focus word for the new year. Basically, setting a New Year intention that is summed up very concisely. Something that will help guide your actions and decisions while also TCB.
I think the perfect word for me would be 'acceptance.' I am a textbook perfectionist and have been as long as I can remember. In some ways it's served me well- I've always done well in school, worked hard and had success in my career, been active in many non-work pursuits and I like to think people consider me reliable.
But as I've gotten older I've seen how being a perfectionist can be really debilitating. While I always want to do the best I can at things, it can be devastating when I'm not successful. I know I've opted out of trying things or forming closer relationships with people out of fear of messing up or seeming vulnerable. For us perfectionists, our self-esteem is linked to our achievements and it can often seem never-ending trying to rack up more accomplishments to prove our worth. Exposing your flaws often feels like something to be avoided at all costs.
My perfectionism is part of what draws me to travel. For me, part of the fun of travelling is the planning. Perfectionists are great planners, because you are so afraid to fail you do massive amounts of research and try to plan for every possible scenario. I come from a family of trips organized by color-coded folders and power-point presentations. Just thinking of the people who travel around with no idea of where they'll sleep the next night gives me heartburn.
Also, the travel industry often caters to perfectionists. The hospitality industry is all about customer service and pleasing the consumer, so they are working hard to make your experience as ideal as your perfectionist mind has dreamnt it could be. A vacation allows you to decide so many details of your day well in advance- where you will eat, what you will see, etc. The problem for the perfectionist is that you have this vision of how a day will go and when it doesn't...well, I've had more meltdowns that I'd care to admit about plans gone awry.
But on the other hand, travelling has helped me shed some of my perfectionist traits. I've gotten much better about handling the inevitable delays with less tears and more deep breaths. I've tried to have some gratitude in these situations, framing more time spent waiting at the gate as more time to do some reading or catch up with friends on the phone. I've experienced that sometimes it's the things you didn't plan for, like the small cafe you stumbled upon or a random person you struck up a conversation with at the bar that make a trip great.
So, 'acceptance' is my intention for 2014. Accepting what I can't control, accepting myself both inside and outside of the context of my accomplishments, and accepting the gifts of what's going on around me, instead of constantly planning for the next thing.
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