On a daily basis, I try to deal with things as they come. I learn as I go and attempt to adjust my actions so I can make progress. When I look back over the whole year, I realize that getting through it all was a major accomplishment. That’s why if I had to choose one word for my 2019, I would go with evolution. Evolution is incremental. Slow. It’s not instant gratification or perfection. Vestigial bits of the old year stubbornly hang on. But if you make deliberate, consistent progress, you are evolving. If you strive to be better, you will never be done with this process.
Evolution, plodding though it may be, can be a more powerful way to think about change than the resolutions we hear so much about this time of year. Maybe we consider the next phase in our lives and new beginnings at the approach of the new year because we get a couple of vacation days to reflect. However, life doesn’t reset in the new year. Your life will be exactly the same on January 2nd as it was on December 31st—unless you alter your habits. The key to success is not the date you start; it’s realizing that you need to start taking daily steps now.
Thoughts for Now
Life doesn’t tend to get easier or less complicated. You can’t just ride it out and wake up where you want to be. You can’t depend on someone else to fulfill your aspirations either. Instead of pacing in a rut of disappointment and wishful thinking, embrace a new way of doing things. Here are five lessons I take with me into 2020. You may want to consider these as you decide which small adjustments will get you closer to your big goals.
- Put your well-being first. What makes you feel bad on a daily basis? What can you do differently to improve your routine, situation, or relationships?
- You are not cake. Your purpose is not to make people happy. Set boundaries and say no.
- It’s not about you. (Really.) Quit taking disappointments personally.
- Press Play, not Rewind. Everyone makes mistakes, and that’s why we all have to let things go. Don't compare yourself to other people or even to previous versions of yourself.
- Trust yourself. Give yourself credit for what you already know. You often don’t need to spend time mulling before you make decisions.
There’s a certain amount of chance, chaos, and accomplishment in each life and each year, and we can control how we deal with it all. If you want to make progress, think about all the small, moment-to-moment choices that will lead you there. This will help you pivot your thinking from a lofty “New Year’s resolution” reset to a more effective “daily evolution.”
Dr. Erika Ebbel Angle received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 2012 from Boston University School of Medicine. She holds a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Erika is the Executive Director and Founder of Science from Scientists, an award-winning, National non-profit which sends real, charismatic scientists into classrooms to improve the attitudes and aptitudes of 3rd-8th-grade students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM). She is also the CEO and co-founder of Ixcela, a biotechnology company aimed at developing tests and interventions to improve gut microbiome efficacy and health.