In 2011 I resolve to try less hard

[originally posted to facebook on new years eve]

I’m writing my ‘new year resolution’ post a day early as tomorrow I’m off to an ashram for a week, with no tech, no phone, no internet (no booze, meat, chocolate, caffeine too – and believe it or not, I’m OK with that).

I also don’t usually worry about new year’s resolutions. I usually think it’s a meaningless date and I adjust my life as I go through the year.

But this year is different. I’ve had the most up and down year I can remember, and it feels meaningful to stop and reflect. Sometimes when things have been bad, they overshadow the good, so I’ll start by remembering the good.

The first 8 months of the year were brilliant. I fell in love with a fantastic guy, wrote my third book, had that book published, worked on a useful project, worked with some great clients and UX Australia was an absolute winner. I spent lots of time with my friends and kid, visited a new country (Portugal) and a new city (Phoenix). I met lots of really cool people. I got really fit (via yoga) and feel physically fantastic.

The past 4 months have been pretty rotten. I broke up with said fantastic guy (not his fault, but mine – and we’ve stayed good, good friends) then fell quickly into a very, very, very stressful relationship. I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time crying as in the last 10 weeks. I’m not trying to be nasty or lay blame – it was a situation that was mostly out of our control. But the stress of this time has made it hard for me to remember just how amazing my year was. I also finished up with my favourite client, had to get rid of my dogs, and my cat died.

I’ve been reflecting on what the year means, what I learned and what it means for next year.

Mostly at the beginning of the year (or whenever I have a re-adjustment) I resolve to do better. To try harder. To be more effective and do a better job or be a better person.

However, thinking about some of what has happened this year (and not just the relationship stuff) I think this approach is the cause of most of my stress. I’m always trying to do better and be better. I always think I can resolve everything just by trying harder. This means my expectations go up, and those expectations make me stress when I don’t achieve what I wanted.

So in 2011 I am going to take a different approach. I’m not going to resolve to be a better mother, a better girlfriend, a better designer/consultant.

Oh, I’m not going to be bad – I’ll still be a great friend and mother. My clients will still be 110% happy with my work. UX Australia will still be a kick-ass conference.

I’m going to ease off on myself a bit. I’m going to go with the flow a bit more. I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t get through 9 hours work every day. If I feel like cycling, I’m going to cycle instead of ticking off to-do lists. If I feel like doing yoga instead of getting to inbox 0, I will. I’m not going to hunt for the perfect relationship or try to be the perfect girlfriend.

I’m just going to try less hard, and enjoy every moment more.

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