Emma Lauer, LCSW
This New Year's Resolution: Be Bold
Updated: May 9
With 2018 coming to a close, the holiday season will quickly be followed by a period of transition, and with that, everyone will be talking about resolutions, goals, and possibilities for the new year. When we start to fantasize about what the future could hold, it’s easy to see our dreams as abstract and far-away, rather than real possibilities. We watch other people bring all of this adventure and success into their lives. We assume that success happens to people who are, well, successful, and automatically think, “why would something like that happen to me?” But as the wise and beautiful Mindy Kaling once said, the real question you should be asking is, “why not me?”
Success isn’t pie. There isn’t less for you just because other people are having some. We assume that there’s not enough, or that it’s for someone else, when the reality is that success is waiting for whoever is there to take it. Determining whether you’re one of those people is how in touch you are with your goals, your willingness to be vulnerable, and gaining lots of positive experiences that move you towards your goals. Of course, this is usually easier said than done – but there are ways to move past any barriers you see getting in your way. Start talking with someone about your goals and dreams, and start breaking your to-do list into manageable parts.
Success is totally subjective. Only you know what dreams light a fire in you, and what gets you fantasizing as you get ready for work in the morning or walk your dog after dinner. We get hung up on other people’s expectations of a successful or meaningful life, when we should only be asking ourselves to be in tune and radically honest about the life we want to live. Maybe one day your dream is to enter a Ph.D. program and become a scientist, and then another day your dream is to drop out of that Ph.D. program, spend 10 months biking the Silk Road and then write a book about your adventures. (This is a real story by the way. Her name is Kate Harris and the book is called “Land of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road. I highly recommend her interview with the podcast “Women Who Travel”). It sounds fantastical, but there are real people out there, just doing the thing and living their fantasies.
Success is dependent on your willingness to say yes and not shy away from vulnerability, and what is gained from being bold is so much greater than what is lost. Now is the time to get real with yourself about what may be in the way of achieving your goals. For example, if through therapy you discover that the thought of trying and failing is petrifying, it is worth beginning to practice some radical acceptance. You may lose the election, or you may lose money. Your story, your art may be rejected, your application may be denied, and the person you wanted an informational interview with may not write you back. These are discouraging realities experienced by every successful person. But if you’re already not achieving what you want, what is truly lost from taking risks?
How would you feel if you were living your biggest dreams, participating in things that made you feel fulfilled, using your talents and living true to your potential? And why not you?