Another trip around the sun is done and across the globe, the ink has barely dried on a fresh list of new year’s resolutions. The “new you” is a concept driven by the marketers and newsy types who would sell you their magazines filled with ways to improve upon yourself. Lose some weight, start that program, sign up for the gym, pay for the class, and purchase the organizational tools that look so cool on your social media feed where everyone else’s pantry screams perfection (does any even cook or eat there?). In those same photos, all the beautiful people seem to live in perfectly curated spaces filled with white sofas, gauzy linens, and beautiful baubles. My friend used to say, “Where is the junk mail?”, a phrase that was intended to encompass all the accouterments of a lived-in space – the toys, the inevitable crayon marks, and handprints, laundry spilled out, and books piled precariously. The disparity between the fake utopia and your very real life leaves you feeling like you just don’t measure up.
The “new you” resolution setup is a gimmick that is almost certain to fail. It is designed that way for the very reason that it lures you into the next round of promotions to make your life more Instagrammable. I would offer you this perspective instead. It is unnecessary to create a “New You” when the current You is already just fine. There will always be opportunities to grow and evolve but I encourage you to first begin with some self-reflection and a hearty appreciation for the wondrous gifts of your existing body, mind, and soul.
Here’s an exercise – take pen and paper and draft a list of good things you contributed last year to the world. It all counts – the big and small things – because every act of kindness, empathy, generosity, and love had a positive impact on someone else, a value that was generated by your existing good self. Not some imagined future You who might be ten pounds lighter or ten years younger or driving a better car. The now You. The real You. See, the real you was just the right person who was needed at that moment to bring comfort or joy or relief to someone else.
The other important things to consider are the acts that pay into you, that fill your tank, and enable you to have the bandwidth to feed into others. I know, “self-care” has become overused to the point that it has lost its meaning. People quickly equate self-care to bubble baths and pedicures, neither of which make my personal list. I like to think of self-care in terms of the promises I make to myself that I actually keep. Being honorable to myself serves to remind me that I am worth the investment of my time and resources such that in the end, it makes me a better man which is essential in my quest to be a better husband, father, friend, and leader.
The last two years have been a blur of evolution at warp speed. It almost feels like a science fiction movie, somehow not real. Times like these make self-reflection even more important. But, if you didn’t keep a journal as part of your routine to capture your experiences, the age of technology will lend you quite a hand. From your social media posts to your Outlook sent folder, you will find the fertile soil of your life as it unfolded, and the photos app on your phone literally tracks the images of your days and weeks.
A period of reflection on the past year as viewed through those lenses will bring clarity about where you spent your time and what you prioritized. It will also start to become obvious where your life is out of kilter – where what you say is important to you doesn’t align with how you actually apply your time. Therein lies the secret of the areas that will benefit from intentional evolution in your life.
Forget about the fad of “new you” and instead seize the opportunity to move the needle of your actions in line with your intentions. Baby steps.
About Mike Brewer
My mission is to tease out the human potential in the multifamily space.