© Charlie Mackesy
Well, here we are in 2020 and I wonder where the last year disappeared to! I started 2019 with a whole new list of priorities for my personal and professional life and with hopes that I might realise some of the dreams on my "bucket list". I knew where I was going and I was fairly certain about how I was going to get there. However, best laid plans and all that!
I wonder whether your year turned out how you had planned it: whether you achieved your professional goals and whether you realised some of your personal dreams. If so, I applaud you, if not, I sympathise, especially as not all of my dreams came true and some of my professional goals were not fully realised either.
I was listening to someone speak the other day about that "flat" feeling we can experience after the hype of Christmas. I was surprised when this happened to me this year (actually, last year now), particularly as I had been feeling full of hope for the new year ahead. Suddenly, I wasn't so sure of myself anymore; I wasn't sure about my capacity to achieve my goals professionally and this certainly stopped me in my tracks.
But, as is my wont, I was able to take a step back from my plight and reflect around what was creating this real sense of dis-ease. This almost "limbo" like state between Christmas and New year was the ideal time to re-assess my very existence and not just my priorities. To help me in this task was the wonderful Charlie Mackesy (www.charliemackesy.com and on Instagram). I was very fortunate to receive his book: "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse" as a gift and I recommend his wisdom to you if you don't know of him. "What do you think success is?" asked the boy "To love" said the mole". I wonder what these words say to you as you think about what success means in your life?
As an Existential therapist, I would have to agree with the boy. It starts with me and my capacity to love myself. In life, we can be beaten down by our perceived lack of success, whether at work, in our relationships and in how we work out our personal situation: the home we live in, the car we drive, how much money we have in our purse or our wallet. We often measure ourselves against those around us and it is very easy to see failure if we perceive that someone is achieving more than us. As human beings it is easy to lose sight of what is actually important. Do I give more attention to achieving material wealth or professional achievement than I do to my mental health and sense of wellbeing? In a material world it seems that this is so often the case and then what?
Far from being selfish, to love myself means having that innate confidence to face the world with a sense of certainty that I'm ok and what I have to contribute to the world around me is ok too. I appreciate that this is not always easy to grasp, especially if we have grown up with a sense that we can never be good enough, or if we live in a world where our contribution is not valued. If this is the case for you and you are struggling to overcome these barriers, then I would encourage you to consider some support around this.
Of course, to love can be one of the most difficult things we can ever do, particularly if it is something that we have never experienced or if we have lost it along the way, for whatever reason. It seems to me that to love is a risky business because it puts us in a state of vulnerability. Love is about honesty and openness; it is about being brave; it about taking risks in all areas of our life. It is about knowing self, it is about knowing others and it is about self-respect and mutual respect. It is about communicating our needs, our wants, what we can offer others and what we can draw from others.
It seems to me that I can only understand myself through relationship with others and so my journey to success begins here, right now, in this New Year.