Planning for Peace

Photo: Cinque Terre, Italy, 2013. Taken by me during my study abroad.

Checking in onyour New Year’s Resolution today. Let me start by saying: I always make a New Year’s Resolution. At the end of each year I think about how I want the next year to feel and create a resolution around that. I have found that focusing on a feeling I want to achieve is much more satisfying in the end than a rigid goal like “work out 4x a week” or “don’t eat sugar” which often only lead to a sense of failure and frustration.

This year I switched it up a little by coming up with a phrase to define 2017: “Planning for Peace.” Like all of us, my life is hectic. I feel incredibly blessed to live in New York City, work in the art world, be happily married, have my sweet kitten, be surrounded by friends, and travel often. But too regularly all of that goodness is eclipsed by spending my whole day feeling overwhelmed by it all. In 2016 I was feeling anxious, strained, and burnt out in a way I haven’t in the past.

Toward the end of the year I had a wake up call. I was running late for work and darted across 2nd avenue as the light was changing only to completely wipe out by tripping on a construction hole that was clearly marked. I was on all fours, my bag was spilled everywhere, my sunglasses were crushed, and I stood up to blood dripping from two new holes in my favorite pants. I called into work saying I would be late, and promptly went home to take a bath and sob. In hindsight, I realized the entire scenario could have been prevented if I had taken time to plan for my day ahead. Below are a few things I have been doing to add more peace to my days.

1. Become a morning person. Those who know me will be snorting at this one as I have a horrible tendency to oversleep. However, I knew that building more time into my mornings is what I needed to start my day off right. I have been doing more chores at night like packing lunch, picking out my outfit, and even showering. Then in the morning I can spend time with my cat, read the news, and not be freaking out with every delay due to “train traffic ahead.”

2. Put everything in my Google calendar. It felt goofy at first blocking out an hour for laundry or grocery shopping but it has been incredibly effective for curbing my anxieties. Rather than stressing about “when am I going to have time to go to the gym?” I now know that Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings are when I will be at the gym because I put it in my calendar.

3. Invest in joy. Being okay with spending money on things that make me happy is not a feeling that comes naturally. In the past, buying anything full price or going out to brunch would leave me feeling guilty that my new, hard-earned money wasn’t being put away for some greater purpose later. This year I’ve loosened the purse strings a bit by buying lunch on Mondays, splurging on a bathing suit I’ve been eyeing for years, and indulging in a manicure twice a month. Something as simple as thinking about what new place I want to try for lunch can evaporate the stresses of a day.

4. Accept not knowing how it will end. I am an incredibly future-oriented thinker. Overall, I think this is a good thing as it makes me prepared for life’s changes, but there are times when it isn’t productive. Worrying about high home property taxes when we have no plans to buy a house or strategizing my next four career moves while I’m only in my first job all fall into the “unproductive thoughts” category. When I find myself going down these mental rabbit holes I now try and pull myself back to the present and accept that all I can control is now.

Somewhere between having time to stop for a croissant craving on my way into work and walking out of my usual Saturday morning spin class I realized that it’s been working! I feel more peace in my days.

So, how are your New Year’s Resolutions going? What are some of the things you do daily to curb feeling overwhelmed? I would love to hear in the comments below!

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