I’m a homeschooler. I have 5 kids. These two facts open me up to a lot of interesting and sometimes-way-too-personal questions. It’s been a long growing experience for me and most of the time I’m even eager for people to ask their questions. It becomes a moment for me to share what a beautiful life this largish*-homeschool-family-thing can be. But there’s one question everyone asks of everyone else this time of year that makes me mad. I bet you’ve seen this question on social media lately, and maybe YOU’VE asked it of your friends and family.
It might go something like this…
“Wow! This year is almost over, can you believe it? So tell me: How did 2017 treat you?”
Or maybe you approach it this way:
“Thank goodness 2017 is almost over. This year has been the worst!”
On the surface, this question or comment seems innocent. But let’s take a moment to look at how this phrasing sets us all up for failure, year after year!
When you think about how the year treated you, you’ve given the year total control over your life. I know. That sounds a little hokey but bear with me for just another minute or two. Everyone deals with negative self-talk, you know – that voice in your head that’s always telling you that you aren’t good enough, haven’t done enough, aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, rich enough? Well, this way of phrasing your reflection on the year works a lot like that. It takes all your control over the situation, all your responsibility for both the good and the bad, and gives it all over to “the year.”
Maybe this year you welcomed a new child into your family. Do you REALLY want to say that 2017 gave you that sweet blessing? No way! The year didn’t carry that baby for 9 months and deliver him and snuggle him and nurse him and change 10,476 diapers that first month, did it? Did the year bless you with that joy? Only God and your sweetheart can do that, not a year.
Maybe this year you earned a degree that you’ve been working towards for a long time, or maybe you earned a big promotion at work, or maybe you successfully launched a new business. Did the year do that for you? Did the year stay up late working hard towards your goals? Do you really want to give that credit to a random set of 12 months?
Maybe this year you made some mistakes, or some bad things happened. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you lost a loved one. Maybe you’ve experienced some health issues. Whatever the negative thing is, it can feel great to blame it on the year.
“Sheesh… 2017 was so MEAN to me. I can’t wait to see how much better 2018 will be!”
I know you’ve heard this phrase before! Maybe you’ve even said it. But does it even make sense? Is it helpful at all? This is a time to reflect on what YOU did this year, what you did well AND what you messed up! Seriously – We ALL mess up. If you use this time of year to learn from your mistakes instead of placing blame, don’t you think you’ll do better next year? Does laying the blame on a time-period set you up for next year being your best year? Or does it set you up for looking for more stuff to blame on 2018??
Remember that negative self-talk I mentioned earlier? The way to turn that around and give yourself more confidence is to change what you tell yourself. Instead of telling yourself that you aren’t smart enough, tell yourself that you ARE smart and can learn anything you need. Instead of telling yourself that you’re not pretty, look at yourself in the mirror and love yourself! (There’s a WHOLE other post coming about this… But the short version is that your kids adore you and think you’re beautiful. Are they just too young to know better, or are they too young to be influenced by media, making them the BEST judge! Think about it…)
So what should we ask instead to change the dialogue about our past year and our future year? How about switching it around.
Instead of “How did 2017 treat you?” ask “How did you treat 2017?”
You can even follow up with “What will you do with your 2018?”
See the difference? Now the ownership of everything that happens in both years is squarely on the PERSON – not on the 12 months, who have absolutely no possible way of influencing anything, by the way.
Take ownership of your time, your successes, your failures (yep… I said it! You’ve had them this year and so have I. OWN IT!), your positive experiences and your negative ones. Own your life, my friends. Learn from your mistakes. Strive to MAKE next year better than this one. Grow. Learn. Reach. Set goals. Attain them. Or don’t. But remember that whatever happens, it’s not the year doing it to you. It’s all YOU.
*I say “largish” here (which I’m not entirely sure is a real word, although spell check seems to approve of it) because when I had 2 kids, I thought 5 kids was a huge family. Now that I have 5 kids, I feel like it’s not that many and people with 9 kids are the ones who count as large. I feel like we’re somewhere in the middle. Tell me in the comments what size family YOU think counts as large. My husband says “anyone with at least one more kid than we currently have.” 😉
Do you think changing this question can empower you to affect change in your life year to year? Or do you think I’m crazy and blowing this way out of proportion? Oh! And tell me: How did you treat your 2017 and what will YOU do to make 2018 a great year?
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Sandra Modersohn is a devoted wife, mother, and homeschooler. She loves great graphic design and has a passion for creating beautiful and useful printable materials for children. Little Learning Lovies where she shares her creations with the world. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and, of course, at the Little Learning Lovies Blog and Store.
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