\ Declare a Do-Over | Christina Brandt

Declare a Do-Over

January brings a lot of chatter about goals, resolutions, plans, and fresh starts.  February’s coming to an end, and maybe we’re not feeling quite so “fresh” about those starts.  Poet Rainer Maria Rilke says:  “And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been.”  

Sometimes, thinking of all the “things that have never been” overwhelms me.  Shortly into the new year, I start to think all those grand plans are just a little too big.  That’s when I start to get in my own way.  That resolution to lose weight?  Ooops, just ate a sleeve o’ cookies.  The desire to exercise more?  It’s kinda cold outside so maybe I’ll stay in and do some yoga followed by leg lifts on the floor instead.  Wow, this floor’s kinda cozy. Maybe I’ll just lie here and nap awhile…

Refresh ButtonThat’s pretty much what happened to me these last two months. But then I remembered something:  Do-Overs.  Yup, do-overs.  Who says they’re something only kids get to do while playing games?  Why can’t we grown-ups have ’em, too?  To be kinda Zen about it, every minute is really a do-over, don’t you think?  Just because something wasn’t to our liking a moment ago doesn’t mean it’ll be forever, or even just for the remainder of this “long year,” as Rilke put it.  If I don’t swim today, well, there’s tomorrow.  Or even an hour from now (as long as the Y’s open).

All or nothing, perfectionistic thinking is no fun.  And when stuff stops being fun, I stop doing it.  I bet you do, too.  So how ’bout we all give ourselves a break on the perfection thing.  Let’s insert play and fun into the process.  Let’s chunk down that “long year” into smaller increments.  Something like:

  • Today…I’ll walk at least two flights of stairs while crankin’ the iPod.
  • In this moment…I’ll decide I’d rather have a glass of water than a cookie.  And then I’ll call a friend.
  • In the next hour…I’ll give myself 15 minutes to write something, anything.  And then I’ll give myself a 10 minute break and dance to some great music.
  • Right now…I’ll trust that I will eventually figure out what I’m supposed to do with my career.
  • In this moment…I’ll think of one time that I was really, really happy at work.  And then I’ll write about why.
  • Today…I’ll ask one friend to use three adjectives to describe me as a professional.  I’ll allow myself to receive the information with grace and gratitude.
  • This hour…I’ll choose to think that I am already successful.
  • Today…I’ll spend ten minutes working on a goal, and twenty minutes making artwork.
  • In this second…I’ll stop and notice how my body’s feeling, paying attention to the hints it provides all the time, free for the asking.
  • Right now…I’ll cut myself a break.  I’ll forgive myself for my alleged sins and declare a do-over.  And then I’ll begin again.

Mr. Rilke, with all due respect, I’d like to change that first line to “And now let us believe in a lifetime of short moments that are given to us…”  Fresh starts are always available to us, so hold those plans and resolutions loosely, allowing yourself to adapt to the moment at hand.  What words, deeds, thoughts will you create in this moment?

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