great expectations

Welcome to the next chapter! Pop the cork and push play. 2016 has officially started...

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
— Jim Rohn

Here I am, yet again, arriving fashionably late to the party. It's taken me a full twenty-six days to get my shit together, and I'm blaming Mercury's retrograde. (Such divine timing for a productive 2016...jokes.) The rest of you (non Capricorn) over achievers had your 2015 reflections posted, 2016 resolutions written, and NYE plans sorted back on December 31st, so the topic of fresh starts might be old news to you. But that overrated, anticlimactic one second leap from 11:59:59 PM to 12:00:00 AM failed to be the magical kick start I needed.

While it might be a new year, I'm still the same old me. I lie in bed until mid-afternoon on the weekends, and eat Costco pizza no less than 3 times a week. I've never been one to sit down and write resolutions for a new year. No, no. I'm the person to sprinkle positive thoughts all over the place, and declare "201[6]! This is my year! I can feel it!" 

But when a close friend recently sent those very same words to me, I was thrown for a loop. What makes a year your year?! Finding Mr. Right?! Experiencing success in your career?! Having life perfectly fall into place?! It's such an empty, catch-all, meaningless phrase. (Even though it was said with the very best of intentions!) I realized that in my world, those words can be very dangerous, because they perpetuate the nasty little habit I have of creating expectations. Great expectations. 

And oddly, none of these expectations ever come with an instruction manual of what to change, or an outline of the effort needed to turn them from a dream into a reality. But you know, details.

So here's what happens instead. I send out all this positive energy into the Universe hoping it too will recognize I have entered a new calendar year, and that it will start setting into motion all these "wonderful things." I spend a lot of energy day dreaming about all the great things that will happen over the next 366 days, (sup Leap Year) but spend minimal energy on action. So come the 24th of March, nothing is really panning out (shocker), and the excitement begins to fade. And by August 6th, I graciously accept defeat and carry on with the status quo. 

I was all set to do that again this year until that little phrase get me riled up. "It's your year!" The sentiment bounced around my brain, and irritated me until last Sunday when the Earth shifted on its axis... 

I burned out on Costco pizza.* And it was a tragic, but equally magical moment.

Let me preface this story by saying I have zero self control: Earlier that afternoon, I told myself, "Self, tonight we are going to cook dinner." But at 8:17 PM where do you think I was?! Standing in line for a slice of Costco pizza and a churro...that's where. And when I didn't enjoy that slice of pepperoni nearly as much as I usually do, I thought, "I should really work on my eating habits." After sitting there a while longer watching people break cases of Corona beer (yes, I watched someone drop an entire case of Corona) I decided I could really use better habits in a lot of areas in my life. And just like that, an idea took flight. Wingardium leviosa! (See I told you it was magical...) 

HABITS. Habits are going to make 2016 my year. Because I am going to stop hoping, and start doing. 

I did a couple of things with that decision. First, I ended the pity party I was throwing myself for a "missed opportunity." Just because New Year's had come and gone, didn't mean I couldn't have a fresh start. I realized that the Universe doesn't really give a fuck what day, month, or year it is. It gives us a new start with every twenty-four hour revolution of this planet. Gregorian calendars are an arbitrary record of time, and every day is a great day for a "New Year's resolution."

My first big milestone of 2016: putting an end to Pope Gregory XIII's dictatorship. Sorry your Holiness, but I don't need your lame calendar. I can wake up any day, and say "Yep. It's going down for real." And seize every moment (all 86,400 of them) to make the change I want. Screw January 1st. Every day on the calendar is an opportunity to celebrate a new year. 

According to the Universe of motivation, January 17th is when I finally entered 2016. 

Second, I made a promise to myself that I would not fear the start. I wish I had a dollar for all the mornings I've woken up with fire, ready to take on a challenge only to have it doused by all the fuss I make over the start. More often that not, starts are the causes of my stops. I'm done losing all that precious motivation. I just need to begin. Here and now. Jump in head first, don't look back, and give it a whirl.

Last but not least, I made lists. Two of them. One for good Habits to embrace, like regularly cooking dinner. And another for bad Habits to break, like hitting snooze three times. I am intentionally going to keep them small and simple. I am staying realistic to avoid failure. I know I give up easily, and I know how hard it is to break a bad habit. (It took over a decade and multiple hairline fractures in my enamel for me to finally give up on my nails.) Instead of going after a few lofty goals, I'm going to let the culmination of random, little Habits change me for the better. 

And that's the best part about my year ahead. I already know some of these Habits won't stick. Unlike setting a concrete goal, I can add, delete, and adapt as needed. There's no reason to feel failure in mid-March or give up in early August, because there is always tomorrow. My Habits will finally help me write that elusive instruction manual for turning those "2016 is my year" dreams into a reality. 

Which brings me back to expectations. Perhaps I'm not giving them the credit they deserve. Sure I've been crushed enough times to be wary, but expectations can also be the very motivation we need to move forward. Maybe all I needed to do was change my perspective, and let great things happen in small ways. 2016 is my year. One little Habit at a time, I will do something I've never done before: fulfill Great Expectations. I can feel it.

A toast to 2016: "Cheers to fulfilling great expectations...any damn day we want."  


The* Pizza is done, but I'm still down for the churro.  

A few scenes from life this past month...