Here’s the Thing: Don’t stop until you’re proud

Here we are. Another January. We’re either in single digit temperatures or pushing 40 degrees. It feels warm enough to play in the snow. If we had snow. Or sunlight. My skin is now a salmon gray and I feel like my lips are blending into my face.

The moody weather makes me moody. I don’t like that, because I like being in control of my feelings. That really sums up 2017 for me. Learning how to handle life when it feels out of my control. Does that lesson ever really end?

This last year felt especially chaotic, a lot of people in my life seemed to feel the same, but of course we all handle things differently. I’ve been on this planet for over 30 years and it’s the first time I’ve felt this happy to say goodbye to the past year. Not the kind of goodbye that’s bitter or involves a margarita in one hand and a peace sign in the other. It’s an exhausted goodbye that is laying in bed, recovering.

Usually I am looking forward to the new year and welcome it with open arms. So why does it feel this way? It dawns on me that there was a lot of growth that happened. The kind of growth to be proud of, because success often takes hard work as payment. It makes people feel good when they apply themselves and see results. Small improvements add value to yourself, which can eventually spill out onto your relationships, hobbies, or work. That’s pretty neat. I like it when other people’s motivations rub off on me. I love being encouraged. Unless it’s for something like skydiving. Then no. Get out of here with that.

I remember a day when all I did was stay safe and secure in my home and routine. I wasn’t hiding, but didn’t feel like I was putting myself out there either. I decided to go outside my comfort zone, which automatically means a new way of life. Even with optimism it’s always a little scary.

However, I learned how to handle it. It’s a lot like feeling prepared for a new baby, but then realizing you’re an idiot and don’t know what you’re doing. You figure it out along the way, because you must. Everyone thinks their way is genius, but truly it’s every man for himself. Everyone has to figure out what makes them grow and what works for them.

It’s fun to watch when it’s not you. I’d much rather learn from other people’s mistakes than my own, but to be totally honest, nothing prepares you more than actual experience. After you work through a variety of situations (instead of sweeping it under the rug), you can feel a little more confident on how to handle it next time. I’m still trying to accept that growth is uncomfortable, but still try to make the best of it. Perseverance, bravery, patience, and a sense of humor are qualities that bring me success, so I try to respect the process even when it’s difficult.

My attitude for this upcoming year is starting to take shape. I take the mental building blocks from prior experiences and apply them to my mindset. I remind myself to keep a good perspective. To check myself when the hard work starts feeling like hard work. As time goes by you’ll start to see your strengths and weakness a little more clearly. Perfection isn’t a real goal, but making small improvements each day still counts as very real progress. A little progress each day adds up to big results.

Don’t stop until you’re proud. You’re allowed to be proud of little things, not everything has to be mind blowing to make a difference. Every expert was once a beginner. It’s your mindset, your rules. It will be tricky when you get burned out, pessimistic, or feel like you’re hitting a wall. It’s easy to give up, especially when basic effort feels overwhelming. Just like our bodies, our minds also need to be well fed, well rested, and work out daily. Invest in yourself. Make a plan.

Here’s the thing: My attitude for this year is curiosity. Usually I only focus on health. Ugh, no. I’m tired of self-improvement. I don’t want to take my ramblings for advice. I just want more pizza. To be a black belt in pizza. To be a pizza whisperer. These are the real goals.

If I have to commit to curiosity it will be to sample all the pizza. Neil Armstrong said, “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” I can accept that. What was once scary is now motivating for the sake of understanding.

Except skydiving. Although I can see why someone would enjoy the view. Maybe skydiving.

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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