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When a New Year Can Bring a New You

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Who doesn’t wake up on January first (or the second if you were up too late on New Year’s Eve) and think about all the things they’d like to do better in the coming year?

The list can get long as we ponder ways we’d like to improve as a spouse, parent, friend or employee. We might muster up a firm resolve to pursue something creative, learn a new skill or find a more fulfilling job. Perhaps we have a bucket list and start daydreaming about which adventures we want to check off in the coming 12 months.

Maybe our desires are not about things we want to gain, but things we want to get rid of – like that last 10 pounds from pregnancy that won’t drop off on their own, an unhealthy relationship, or a behavior that we know isn’t good for us or the people we love.

I don’t daydream so much about things I can check off a list as I do about the intangible. I think about reinventing myself. Not becoming someone else, but becoming a better version of me.

A woman who doesn’t worry as much. A freer spirit who takes more healthy risks. Someone more patient, less irritated, better at compromise. Still me, but less prone to jump to conclusions, or rush ahead of myself and others without taking time to consider all the pros and cons of a dilemma or decision.

The thing is, we can reinvent ourselves…whether we truly need to be a new person (i.e. end a destructive addiction) or just a generally more healthy us. And we can do it at any time, not just at the start of a new year. But unlike tangible goals, which require resolve and a firm grip on our frailties (i.e. no more cupcakes until 10 pounds come off), reinventing ourselves requires something else:

Desire.

And courage.

Grit.

The thing is, we can reinvent ourselves…

Here’s why: because the people around you probably won’t be doing the same.

You could start showing immense grace to a difficult friend or family member, only to learn that they don’t even notice, much less respond with equal kindness. Or step out of the unnecessary competition with a co-worker even if they don’t. If you become a kinder and gentler wife, your husband may remain critical/aloof/fill-in-the-blank. If you demonstrate more patience and firmness with your children in hopes they will automatically become better behaved, it could take a long time before they change.

This is where you need to remember why you are reinventing yourself:

For you.

No one lives as close to you as you do. All the things about you that cause you grief will continue to do so. And just like with any destructive behavior, they will get worse. So if you’re always impatient with others and you don’t desire to be more patient, you’ll just get more impatient. And somewhere in your psyche, you will like yourself less and less. I see this in people I know who treat others poorly. I know they don’t like themselves very much, but they don’t have the desire or courage to change, so they stay the same, get worse, and drive others further and further away.

Here’s the cool thing about courage: it flows naturally out of desire. Desire starts in the heart and mind, and courage is the outflow. The dictionary definition of desire is to crave and to express a wish to obtain. Express is a verb; it means you have to do something about that which you crave. And the definition of courage? To act in accordance with one’s beliefs!

So, go for it ladies! Believe in yourselves! If all you need this coming year is to lose 10 pounds, identify it as a desire of being a better you, and find the courage to say no to the cupcakes. But if you want to reinvent yourself, you can do that, too. We were created to be the best women we can possibly be, and we were created with the abilities to desire good things and be courageous. Don’t hold yourself back!

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Clare: obsessive watcher of shore birds who loves spending hours shopping online for things she’ll never buy

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