The Most Important Thing Your New Years' Resolution Is Missing.
Most of the advice we hear from the internet regarding leveling up our lives is not very “Neuro-spicy” informed. Many of us live with debilitating depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism, and chronic illness to name a few. Additionally, other people like myself also have to juggle the real-life danger to our lives coupled with the emotional and mental strain of existing with intersectional marginalized identities. The disregard for our communities and the systemic hindrances we face make implementing general life hacks difficult if not impossible. I can not tell you how much I loathe the saying "consistency is key". Yet we hear this time and time again when people are sharing their "tips" on how to be successful. Consistency is not some metaphorical key. Consistency is a privilege that is not accessible to everyone for a variety of reasons.
Consistency is not some metaphorical key. Consistency is a privilege that is not accessible to everyone for a variety of reasons.
For generations, the bar of success has been set by those who have the advantage of standing on the backs of their predecessors. For decades our generation has buried our dreams in the graveyard of family traditions and colonial expectations. Our ideas of success have been hijacked by the little images of pretty people in our phones setting unrealistic expectations with a ring light and tripod. Meanwhile, the whole world is encouraging us to be different while simultaneously punishing us for not regurgitating their specific ideology of success. In all of this, my question is what if we feel unsuccessful based on our general misunderstanding of success by how toxic hustle culture has defined it for us?
Most people measure their success by how closely they can fit it into the trope of the American Dream. But let's just BFFR right now, there is just no way in hell that 8 billion people are supposed to share the same exact life path, goals, and passions. We set goals to achieve the success that we believe will give us the most amount of personal fulfillment. Yet, we do not question why that road to success is rife with miserable rigidity and set to the pace of inevitable burnout. Doesn't anyone else find it wildly suspicious that we are indoctrinated to believe that success can only be the result of hard work we do not enjoy? Honestly, how ghetto is that?! We are not taught to persist in the challenges of progress but to seek out the hardest and fasted path to perfecting anything we take an interest in. We leave enjoyment for later- for some far-off date, we deem worthy of our joy. We extinguish our passion in place of perfection and wonder why our achievements often leave us feeling hollow. But the most sinister thing of all is how we incentivize each other to participate in our own misery by rewarding our self-abandonment with praise. The remedy for this is redefining the meaning of success.
But let's just BFFR right now, there is just no way in hell that 8 billion people are supposed to share the same exact life path, goals, and passions.
When we redefine how success can thrive in our lives at the intersection of our capacity and our enjoyment, we increase our likelihood of success overall. In contrast, if we continue to measure our personal fulfillment and achievement by how closely we can assimilate our lives with the lives of people who do not share our identities or our history we will ensure our failure. Success for many of us does not look like keeping an aesthetically pleasing morning routine. In my personal experience, I have found it extremely helpful to define my sense of success by how well of a job I am doing at accepting myself day to day. There are some responsibilities that we have very little choice in enduring for the sake of our survival. But they are just that, responsibilities we take on to survive. Things that we can not live without should not be our only measure of success. Success can be pronounced in the ways we are able to thrive outside of oppressive systems and dated expectations. Making self-acceptance the foundation of how we measure success allows us to build goals within the realm of our capacity that increases our sense of personal fulfillment. It is also a revolutionary act of self-love that emboldens our self-confidence and our sense of self-worth.
I think it's important to note that in no way am I suggesting that we dream small or aim low. Our limitations do not mean we have to be limited. They may call for us to be progress focused, patient, and creative. But when we work with ourselves and not against the nature of our needs we have a better chance of achieving our goals without dysregulating our nervous systems or disrupting our daily peace.
Our limitations do not mean we have to be limited.
In 2022 I got my official diagnosis of PMDD. And for my fellow PMDD warriors out there you know how debilitating this disorder is. For two weeks out of each month, my body becomes a battlefield that fights against my every attempt at progress no matter how small. Most days I can not get out of bed without having a full meltdown. On other days I am simply fighting to stay alive. On the days that I find myself managing my disorder, markers of success may look like the following:
I drank some water today
I took my 30 min nap with my weighted blanket
I took my essential vitamins
I listened to Beyonce’s Renaissance and cried as soon as Break My Soul started allowing myself to have my feelings
I fed my cat
The point is we do so many things successfully but because we have a one-dimensional view of what success looks like we feel like failures. For someone like me and for many others consistency is a myth. So if not consistency, what is the one thing you want to be sure to include in your new year's resolutions? The answer is self-acceptance. We really be on the internet talkin' bout, boundaries this and boundaries that- but then we let that same internet bully us into bypassing boundaries with ourselves so we can be like or even try to one-up people we don’t even like. This next year can be the year you find out that there is so much more to life than checking off a box to prove your worth to the world. You can decide to love and enjoy your life as you explore what lights your soul on fire.
We always hear people saying “do the work” and on that, I could not agree more. Deciding what success can look like for you is work. It requires patience and loads of self-acceptance. There are so many people in this world who will go out of their way to shame you for not working as hard as they are to achieve the dreams they don't even understand their desire for. Block them out. Your success is yours alone to define. And even when you encounter challenges meet them with grace, not grit. Lean into your limitations, they are there to remind you that you're human. And always remember there can be no resilience without rest.
Here is some journaling prompts to help you explore your current thoughts on what success means to you.
What does success look like for me?
How do I measure my personal fulfillment?
What steps can I take to redefine my idea of success?
How can I become more accepting of who I am?