As the year draws to a close, I think it’s natural to reflect on what transpired.  2017 has been full of changes, emotional ups and downs, successes and opportunities for learning (aka failures).

In January, I chose a word to serve as a focus for the year – first time I have tried that.  My word was TRANSFORM.  Somewhere around the middle of the year, I added a phrase – “let it go”.  It was interesting to see how keeping those things in mind influenced me.  I’ve been thinking about 2018 – and I plan on doing it again.  I’ve narrowed my “word” down to a couple choices, and have my phrase figured out.  I am excited to see how this will shape the year.

What lessons have you learned in the past year?  Personally, quite possibly the most valuable lessons are ones that I have most recently been exploring.  Realizing that I can really only control my reaction to events/situations, as opposed to controlling the situation, has been significant.  Another “ah hah” moment has been the realization that I lack (in a big way) self-discipline.  Competition – have you ever looked up the Latin meaning of compete?  Definitely different than the way we view competition now.  Freedom – I am surprised to learn that it is a byproduct of control, self-discipline, and competition!

It is really hard to let go of control – of things, people, and situations.  I’m not sure I will master this one, but I am working to be more intentional about this.  Each time that I can let go, and I can see evidence (positive), it gets a little less hard.  Example – I was really tired of letting my hair grow long.  Other than little trims, I have let it grow for a year.  I didn’t like how it looked, how I felt, caring for it…you get the idea.  I also wasn’t really sure what I did want done with it.  Went to my new hairstylist – he is a saint!  I told him what I absolutely didn’t want, and asked him to choose the style.  He gave me something I really like, I can maintain, and fits in with my lifestyle.  Also, something that I probably wouldn’t have picked.  Letting go of control isn’t always this easy, I know this.  There is wonderful freedom in feeling that you are not responsible for everything that happens.

Self-discipline is maybe even harder for me.  I have always relied on motivation as my incentive to do things.  Maybe not always – but probably 95% of the time.  Procrastination is one of my skills – fine-tuned, almost like an art!  I gifted myself with a book a couple weeks ago – “Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual” by Jocko Willink while I was doing some Christmas shopping for others.  After flipping through a few pages, it kind of smacked me between the eyes, a sort of “you really need this” realization.  This effort will be a work in progress for some time.  Preliminary results are very encouraging – I have discovered that just doing something instead of dancing around it for hours is very time-saving!  Who knew?  More time, more freedom….and a real sense of accomplishment when you complete a whole task instead of picking and choosing the parts you like (for example, my fitness training plan…).

Competition – this was an eye-opener for me.  My idea of competition was trying to be better than your competitor – however you could make that happen.  The notion of competing against oneself was a little confounding – since it only involved one competitor.  One of the Latin definitions is essentially “to strive together”, or come together to work toward a goal.  My conception was a little closer to the French definition.  The Latin form takes it from being an individual action to a team action.  To work together to better both parties.  As I pondered this, I realized that in order to do this, you have to let go of control, lose your ego, and employ considerable discipline to maintain the “team” approach.  Your own success becomes secondary to seeing all parties succeed.  And yep, freedom is another byproduct!  Freedom from having to perform perfectly and worry about the outcome.

Freedom – I am coming to equate this with the opportunity to be curious about what is possible.  Freedom from control – scary thought – but exciting.  Freedom from relying on motivation to build success – and the freedom of knowing that your success stems from your own work.  Freedom from trying to be the best/perfect – an opportunity to participate with joy.

Where does your freedom come from?  What are your life changing lessons from 2017?


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