Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015: Slow Down, Stay Positive, Enjoy Life



This wasn't the post I originally had scheduled for today, but I've noticed something over the past week that really got me thinking. On Instragram, on other blogs, on friends' Facebook pages, and even in the (gasp!) offline real world, it seems like so many people are talking about a common new year goal: to slow down and enjoy life. And although I'm not usually a fan of resolutions for myself (because I suck at them), this is something about which I planned to be intentional this year as well. In fact, a stranger on an airplane last week asked me if I had a new year's resolution, and I replied, without a second thought, "I just want to continue to be positive and appreciate the everyday like I did in 2014." Usually when I read about or talk with others about goals for the new year, the majority of what I see involves doing more, working harder, getting more, going faster, pushing harder… So it has genuinely surprised me to see how many of us seem to be heading in a different direction for the upcoming year.

Until last year, "do more/get better/work harder" was my mantra too. No matter how great things were, they could never possibly be enough. My whole life I've felt like this was how I had to be in order to really succeed in life, to the point where I defined myself by it: "Oh, I'm a Capricorn, we're workaholics who can't sit still," or "I'm Type A, I'm just naturally anxious and overly ambitious." Over the course of the past few years, I have admittedly gotten better at this. I've taken weekends off, I've made more realistic "to do" lists, I've found ways to have more local adventures rather than feeling the need to plan big trips every month, and I've taken breaks from technology. But my goals still always involved ways to do or get more-more-more, and I always felt some level of guilt for not accomplishing enough. Rather than learning to be content (which is a much different thing than settling!) with my life, celebrating small achievements, and allowing myself to find the positive even in situations that turned out differently than expected, I'd end up feeling bad for not attaining goals, or I'd let my self worth be determined by how much I did or had at the end of a given year. Looking back, I see how generally unhappy, unsatisfied, and negative I was for a long time.


For my last post of 2014, I talked about how it had been one of my all-time favorite years. Ultimately, I felt my best ever at the end of a year where, for the first time, I focused on enjoying what I had instead of pushing myself to hustle toward greater success in work, in finances, in travel, and in my everyday life. Clearly, at least for me, there is something to be said for working more on a positive mindset and a grateful heart than on getting and doing more. Obviously I also had a huge life change in 2014, as it was my first year of motherhood. But I don't think that the act of having a child was the sole or ultimate reason I was so much happier; I think that as far as how having a little one affected my happiness, it was more a result of the fact that suddenly having to take care of another human everyday forced me to live more in the present moment than ever before. Especially when my husband was away for work for weeks at a time, it was just me here having to be responsible for our baby. I simply couldn't spend as much time at my computer working, or planning upcoming travel, or devising ways to further my career. When I was working, I was forced to be smarter about it and more productive with less amounts of time. I also had to focus on someone other than myself, and I had to find joy in simpler things. At first, this was an adjustment. But it was amazing just how quickly I settled into into this new way of thinking, and eventually, how much more delighted I was with each day and every small experience. Once I started feeling more positive about every single day, staying positive became easier and easier. I discovered that not constantly feeling pressured by myself doesn't mean I'm being lazy, and that staying motivated doesn't always mean there has to be some material prize at the end. And this is why I decided that for 2015, I have the same goal: to continue to enjoy each day (and each moment!) the best that I can, and to stay mindful about living in present, instead of only looking ahead and hoping for more.


I have to say that seeing so many others with similar goals makes me even more stoked on the upcoming year. It sounds a little cheesy, but perhaps there is a shift happening in the universe that is collectively prompting so many of us to slow down, be as joyful as possible, de-clutter our minds and schedules, say "no" more often, and just live? Or in an age defined by technology, social media, excessive work, and less real life interaction, maybe we have all just reached a point where we're so burned out that we're reevaluating? Whatever the reason, it's refreshing to see this kind of positive intention. May 2015 be the year that we all find our bliss.

This post features some images that I've found particularly inspiring lately, all of which can be found here
Individual sources, from top: Her Paperweight, Free People, Style AddictBluOceanwithPolkaDotsAbduzeedo.

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20 comments:

  1. I loved reading this so much that I read it twice. I agree that a lot of people seem to be concentrating more on how to appreciate what they have than how to get more. I'm working on slowing down this year too. I have trouble saying no. Thank you for sharing this and I wish you the best in the coming year.

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    1. Thank you Rachel! I wish you the best as well. :)

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  2. Inspiring images! Thanks for sharing these!
    It's more of the same for me this year, as far as my business goes.
    More on that plus my personal goals on my blog tomorrow :)

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  3. Love this! I can completely relate. I took on the slow down/enjoy life mentality last year and am continuing that trend this year. I realize that my goals aren't to be bigger and better, so why should I live that lifestyle? Just because that's what others are doing doesn't mean that I have to do the same. We've been overly bombarded with the idea that being busy is the new cool, and I don't think that's for the better. Glad to see others taking the cue that a slower life may actually be more enjoyable. Happy New Year! :)

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    1. YES! You are so right Heidi - business has become glorified, and it's sort of sad, right? Best of luck to you for another great, enjoyable year.

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  4. Wow, this is so true. I had a very challenging 2014 both personally and with my business. Much like you I had to provide care only mine was for my sister who passed from cancer in the fall. I was lucky to be able to be there for her daily, and it really forced me to learn to be in the moment and enjoy life and not try to control every little thing. (Probably the hardest thing for a Virgo to do). On the other hand I totally revamped my business and I love the new direction it's taking. I've started swimming again, me time is a must this year. 2015 will be all about positive change and enjoying life !

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    1. I'm so sorry for the loss of your sister Adrienne. I can't even imagine how painful that must have been. I'm glad the experience enabled you to focus on enjoying life in the moment though! It sounds like 2015 is going to be a great year for you.

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  5. What a great read! Thanks for the reminder. My intention is to focus on positive energy and live in the moment as well! All the best to you and your family in 2015!

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    1. Thank you Alexis! I wish you the best in 2015 too!

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  6. What a great post, Melissa - so thought-provoking! I recently read an article about a cultural shift that is happening among teenagers, wherein they are becoming more individualistic; happier with fewer friends, feeling less loneliness and less need to reach out and make superficial connections via social media. I wonder if perhaps this shift isn't just happening with teenagers, but in society as a whole - if we're learning to slow down; to live with less people and things but looking for increasingly meaningful relationships with what and who is close to us. Based on what you've said, I think it might be. And I have to say, I think it's a wonderful thing.
    xox,
    Cee

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    1. I agree that this would be a wonderful thing! Thank you for sharing that Cee!

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  7. I hope 2015 is a wonderful year for you and your family!
    Great photos!
    I don't necessarily hope to accomplish more this year, but I do hope to be more efficient and productive with my time. Freeing up more time to do other things.

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    1. I feel like being forced to be more productive in less time this year while I cared for Essley was a huge gift. I wish the best this year!

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  8. What a positive post! Wishing you all the best in 2015. I truly hope there is a cultural shift in the making.

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  9. What an inspiring post! I too feel a pull toward a more content lifestyle. When is enough enough, ya know? Always working for more, pushing, comparing. I want to learn to be more positive about each day. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Tiffany! And I agree wholeheartedly.

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  10. I didn't consciously do this when I made my goals for the year, but as I was sitting there typing, I just couldn't bring myself to make a huge list. There will ALWAYS be stuff to do, but we don't need to do it right this second. Awesome philosophy for the year. :-)

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  11. I was NEVER into resolutions, until last year I actually (accidentally) accomplished a few goals that I set. It's so weird, I didn't consciously set out to * try foods I said I hated * make my homemade baby food * cutting my hair over 11" inches (this one I was actually a bit more determined)- but it just happened. Now when I look back on 2014 I see these 3 goals that may be super minimal to anyone else, but it made me realize that those little things gave me this silent confidence that I didn't realize I had (and honestly really needed) before. 2015 IS MY YEAR. I have a small list of more self actualization goals that I want to accomplish to overall be a better person. Good luck! I can't wait to see more uplifting and personal posts about this! *Brezus

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