If you’re like most people, starting a new calendar is an exciting time because January 1st brings about the idea that “this year will be better than the last” and that change is just around the corner. Resolutions are made with the best of intentions, and while some people stick with them to their completion I’d be so far behind on mine by mid-month I’d feel like a failure and “quit while I was behind.”
As the saying goes, “if nothing changes, nothing changes,” so I knew I had to do something different if I wanted different results. Three years ago I set out to find a way to get rid of the pressure of being perfect so I could actually make and reach my goals, and that’s when I started picking one word to focus on throughout the year.
The first year my word was Believe.
I chose that word because it would stretch me, get me out of my comfort zone and allow me to do things with a whole new mindset. I had to not only believe in believing, I had to then begin to practice believing. I had to believe in a God that is greater than me and that through my faith in God He would help me do anything. I had to learn to believe that I was not defined by my past secrets and anxieties. I had to believe that I have a unique gift to offer people and that I was designed for so much more than survival and fear. I had to believe that my marriage was worth fighting for and modeling healthy habits for my boys was worth the change to connect us as a family.
While it took a lot of intentional awareness of my thoughts and my habits, I was able to get through the year with God by sid, and I was AMAZED at what I learned about overcoming fear and anxiety in my life just by choosing to Believe.
I was so impressed with the results from the first year and wanted to stay in the flow of the progress and freedom I was experiencing, so the second year I chose the power word Bold.
It’s been said that if you pray for, say, patience, God will not zap you with patience. He’ll give you the opportunities to practice patience and to build your faith. Let me tell you there is truth in that statement! Opportunity after opportunity to be bold presented themselves consistently throughout that year, and thank goodness I had the foundation to Believe I could overcome my fears and be able get through those situations. Belief was one thing, but taking action to be Bold was a whole new risk for me.
But I did it. I actually wrote and spoke about my anxieties and the secrets from my past. It was liberating! It was also terrifying because I was treading in new territory. I was able to identify, face and conquer my fears, however, rather than continuing to allow them to dictate the path of my life like I had for so many years. I became equipped with new tools and strategies for handling each day; I learned how to let go of being a control freak; and I learned I am perfectly okay with not being perfect. While I’m still a work in progress, I can tell you without hesitation the effort I have put into learning how to do different so I can have different has been well worth every second. Each and every one of these experiences from the last two years has taken me to a new level and led me to this year’s power word:
And already this year it’s proven to be just what I need.
For the last 20 years fear, anxiety, doubt, shame, and guilt had been such a large part of my life, and it seemed as if all of my decisions were based on one of these lies or another. Practicing Belief and Boldness has ushered me into living in a new light where I know I’m forgiven and set free, and this has helped me reroute my decisions to begin to focus on love. I’m even able to now ask myself, “Am I making this decision in love or fear?”
With this awareness, though, comes the excitement of wanting to share with people what I’ve learned when I hear them speak fear, doubt, shame, and guilt. I want to tell them what to do and how to fix it so that they too can be free to live fearlessly. But what I’m learning is I need to Listen. I need to listen and support and encourage from the sidelines. Their fear is not mine to fix. I can only fix myself, and I sometimes the best support I can offer is to just partner alongside them.
I’m learning I can’t control my kids, my husband, my friends or the families that I work with, even though my old self would be so annoyed with this. What I can control, however, is how I respond (rather than react) to my circle of influence. With many opportunities to practice this, my new self is getting better and better at this every day. Now when someone’s sharing something with me and the thought “if they would just listen to what I have to say,” pops in my head, I’m learning I need to reframe it and say, “I’ll be here to listen as they go through this season.”
My friends have told me I’m a good listener and there are times when I think I am as well, but when my nine year old says to me, “You just cut me off. You never listen,” I’m reminded I’m just getting started. God is indeed presenting me with plenty of opportunities to practice listening.
What’s this have to do with sleep?
So if you’re wondering what any of this has to do with sleep, the answer is everything. When you begin working on yourself and filling your “tank” first, you can then support your little ones all the better. On those days where you used to feel pressure to perform with perfection, you can now begin to say, “I did enough today, and tomorrow I’ll do the best that I can too.”
This fresh perspective helps each of us live more wholeheartedly; it allows us to shut down worry, fear, anxiety and doubt to enable us walk in love; and it lets us just sleep. Our bodies need to be well-rested so they can function to their fullest as we journey with our children no matter their ages.
At night before I rest my head on the pillow I say the word “listen,” and then I’m reminded to hear what I need to hear as I rest and rejuvenate for the next day ahead!
What’s your one word for the year? How will you work on yourself this year to help improve sleep in your home? Feel free to connect with me here, if you have any questions or comments along the way to those wonderful sleep-filled nights.