The last day of 2018. My 17-year-old daughter and I take a walk early this morning and list everything good we can think of that we have experienced this past year. We then imagine what we will say a year from now if 2019 goes the way we’d love it to go.
Knowing what I’m looking forward to and how I deserve to feel, has been a game-changer for me over the past couple of years. These past two years have been the most peaceful ones I can remember. If I look back over every week, though, quite a few experiences were difficult for me. Someone else, looking back at my weeks, may reflect differently on my analysis of my year. I sometimes felt deep sadness, worry, anxiety and fear. I choose to focus, though, on the fact that by changing my thoughts, I was able to turn these emotions into compassion, love, faith, and courage. And the actions I take as an empowered, loving person filled with faith, serve me much more than the actions I would have taken as a worried, fearful, and anxious person.
I have come out of my comfort zone, taken risks and tried new things over the past two years. Each time my fears of failure seem insurmountable until I remind myself what the rewards will be if all goes well. With my hopes and desires as my road map, I’ve been able to cover more territory, explore more landmarks and off-the-beaten-path delights, and end up at an even more beautiful place than was promised in the travel guide.
My compass started changing a few years ago, during an extremely challenging time in my life. Through a meditation exercise at a workshop I was attending, I met myself, 20 years into the future. I noted where my future-self was living, what she was doing, and how she felt in her soul. I can tell you that she was happy, at peace, living in an airy, modest home with lots of windows, with beautiful nature on all sides. She was very grounded. I asked her for advice. My 65 year-old-self told me to stop saying “One Day” when talking about who I want to be and the kind of life I will lead. She told me that the only way to make it happen was to Start Now.
This really woke me up. I got nervous that I would procrastinate so much that I would miss out on the purposeful, fulfilling life I so desperately want. I started planning, slowly. My goal was not to be quick but to know that I was moving forward at all times… because 2019 was just 5 years away. In 2019, my most powerful life-stage of raising children in my home would end. And I knew that it was going to be so hard to transition from the 24-year role that I felt born to play, into a complete unknown.
So here we are. A few hours away from that very year that I’ve been thinking about for close to a quarter century. A year that feels exciting at times and filled with anguish at other times. A year that might be filled with loneliness or filled with activities and people who fulfill me. A year of “last times” or a year of “first times.” There are so many unknowns.
What I do know as I step into the year that will mark a new stage of life, is that I have my trusty road map to motivate and remind me of my dreams and goals. I have made this guide tangible and I look at my vision board several times a day. This is my second board in two years and both boards stand side-by-side in my bedroom. They are evidence of the power of having clear goals and vision. On my first board, among other things, I put pictures of romance, leading workshops, becoming a coach and travelling. On my second board I have pictures of me actually leading a workshop as a coach, of my love who jokes that he was conjured up from my first board, and of some of the places where we’ve travelled together. The first board were initial Goals and Dreams 101. The second board is my Next Stage – my 201. This board reminds me to dream bigger and to take greater risks. This board won’t let me wallow as an empty nester. This board inspires me to view my next stage of life as opportunity.
I know that there will be unanticipated times ahead that kick my butt. I know that I will experience heartbreak and loneliness as my baby leaves my nest. But I also know that I am in control of how I view every situation of my life. No matter what happens around me and to me, I will latch on to that one thing that is going right in order to be in control of my own inner sense of well-being and joy. I know that I am the only person standing in the way of my dreams. I will create my future as I enjoy my life right now. I have a whole lot more living to do and I will try not to be afraid of what is to come. After all, I know that the most rewarding parts of my life so far have taken a lot of fearlessness. There’s not much left to fear after that.