Every year, as the holidays approach and the end of the year draws near, I reflect. I think about what I’ve done in the past year—the places I traveled to, the friends I saw, the accomplishments I had. And I think of what I want out of the new year.
What are my goals? What are my hopes and dreams? What do I most want to check off my bucket list?
While I have formally written down resolutions for the past six years, I don’t believe in strict and stringent resolutions. Mine aren’t all measurable. They aren’t new rules to live my life or specific action items. They are more guides, themes, and intentions of how I want to live my life moving forward, specific to the period of life I’m in today.
Most years have resolutions I carry over to the next because I don’t believe they should necessarily stop once the year ends.
Most resolutions are inspired by how I’m feeling at the end of the year, and how I want to either keep that feeling or change that feeling with the help of a new calendar.
Last year’s theme was to reset and recenter. At the end of 2020, I was burnt out at work. I was tired and overworked and felt undervalued and underappreciated. I felt like I was giving my all and stressing over every little thing, prioritizing work over everything else. That was easy to do last year when there wasn’t much opportunity to have a social life, especially because I live on my own and don’t have a significant other or kids.
So, at the end of the year, I knew I had to make a change. I needed to find a life outside of work. I wanted to be fully present when spending time with my family and friends. I longed to do things I wanted to do, just for me. I had to effectively communicate my feelings and thoughts to people in my life. I needed to find a greater purpose in my life.
And as the stars totally aligned, my life completely changed on April 20, 2021.
I will always remember this day because, instantly, work was not my sole priority anymore. It was the day I brought home my foster dog Ruxin, who, one week later, became mine forever. In an instant, my world changed, and we became two peas in a pod. We had no settling in period; it was an instant “this is right” feeling, and I think he’d say the same if he could talk!
Don’t get me wrong, I never neglected my work, but finally, something forced me to set boundaries. No, I can’t email that person back immediately—I’m on a walk with my dog that I need to pay attention to. No, I cannot be on back-to-back calls from 8am-5pm—I have a dog to take out.
I had to carve out breaks in my day. I had to start saying no. I had to be okay with not emailing back right away. There have still been late nights when a deadline is looming. I have had to ask neighbors to take Ruxin out when I just can’t get away. But overall, my life has changed. I found a purpose outside of work. I found an immediate work-life balance. I found a reason to not put work before my personal life.
More than that, Ruxin brings me instant joy.
He makes me laugh daily. He creates light in the dark days. He makes me put someone else’s needs before my own. He makes it okay for me to feel like I can have a lazy night in. He creates instant social connections. I hardly knew any of my neighbors before, but now, everyone stops to chat and pet Ruxin. He has made my heart grow full of love. I have a constant companion who loves me back unconditionally.
So, as I approach the new year and reflect on this one, I know what I want to embody in 2022. I want to live my life more carefreely like my dog has taught me. I want to forgive and forget quickly. I want to not let stress and worries bring me down. I want to live in the moment and know that everything will work out in the best possible way. I want to live in the present. I want to radiate happiness and positivity in all parts of my life. I want to love fully and unconditionally. I want to be the best person I can be.
So, my ask of you next year is to take inspiration from Ruxin. Make eye contact, smile at strangers, be forgiving, be so full of life that anything that pulls you back doesn’t bring you down. Enjoy the little things that bring you joy—the treats, the fresh air, the smells and sights of nature, the moments with family and friends. And most of all, be fully present and love unconditionally and with all your heart.