I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with New Year Resolutions. Part of me finds them motivating and inspiring, while a bigger part of me feels that New Year Resolutions reinforce the belief that in order to make positive and significant changes in my life that I have to wait for the “perfect” time, like a new year or new week to make it happen.
Now, I’m not knocking resolutions nor am I criticizing anyone who has chosen to make New Year Resolutions. In fact, I like to celebrate the fact that so many people want to continue to grow and work on themselves. But after years of making resolutions and rarely ever following through with them, I knew that for me personally, something had to change.
For me, 2017 was a year of discovery and finally getting the answers I was looking for regarding issues I had been having with my health. But with that discovery came a lot of pain, uncertainty, and heartache as I learned to navigate my diagnosis of 3 Auto-Immune Diseases as well as the lifestyle changes that accompanied them. However, I’m grateful that the doctors and specialists that I had been referred to were incredibly kind, compassionate and went above and beyond to help me learn and understand what was going on in my body.
Among those doctors was my new OB/GYN who, during my pre-op appointment to go over the details of my Endometrial Laparoscopy and Cystoscopy, recommended a personal development book that honestly changed the course of how I looked at goal setting, resolutions, and life in general. It was called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, hence, the inspiration for my shift in perception and commitment to creating my own “agreements” to follow for my own life in addition to adopting the ones outlined in the book.
The last thing I want to do right now is ruin the book for you. I really, really want you to take the time and read it for yourself because it’s truly that powerful. But the basic premise is that the world we live in is a dream. A dream that was fabricated for us when we entered this world. One that is filled with societal rules and norms that we learn to adopt as our own beliefs through our parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, etc.
But the truth is, none of these things are actually the truth. And it’s important that we recognize that and learn to create our own rules or “agreements” that we want to follow throughout our lives based on the truth of who WE are.
In the book, the author introduces us to the wisdom and teachings of the ancient Toltec. And within these teachings are Four Agreements that can quickly change our lives and allow us to truly experience what happiness, love, and freedom truly are. And these Four Agreements Are:
(Just kidding. I told you I wasn’t a “book ruiner” 😉 I promise it’s worth the read!)
But as I started to adopt the four agreements into my life, I was inspired to create my own agreements as well, ones that felt authentic and true to who I was and what I stand for. And when I had this revelation, it just so happened that it was December 31st.
Talk about ironic timing, huh?
Here Are My Four Agreements for 2018 & Beyond
• Remember that your life is yours to live, not anyone else’s
I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has ever felt pressure to live their life a certain way. Sometimes the pressure comes from family and friends. Sometimes it comes from our bosses, co-workers or society in general. And sometimes, it comes from the self-imposed beliefs that we have put onto ourselves based on our experiences.
However, in my experience, when you try to live your life according to what someone else tells you is “right” or “normal”, you really aren’t living at all. Because the rules you’re living by are not authentic to you and who you truly are. These rules aren’t in alignment with the life that deep down you know you’re meant to live. And when we’ve lost the ability to live out our authentic truth, we’ve lost the ability to live a life filled with pure happiness, love, and freedom.
I know this because I’ve been there. And I’m now on my way towards working my way away from it and in the direction that I feel I’m meant to go…regardless of what anyone else’s opinions are.
• Make time to do the things that make your soul happy
I believe that we are all called to certain things and interests in our lives for a reason. Every single one of us has a unique gift and talent that can’t be replicated by anyone else in the exact way that we are able to take it on. I believe that these gifts are given to us not only to help us find joy and peace among the chaos of the world but also to help others find the same joy and peace by using these very gifts to pay it forward.
For me, what makes my soul happiest is when I have a camera in my hands. There’s something about getting to capture moments in time that makes my heart sing and it’s something that is really difficult to put into words. And after a photography outing, I am so giddy with excitement to look at and edit the images that I’ve captured that I often will find a place to stop if I’m far away from home so that I can start the process as soon as possible.
When I allow myself time to do this, I am at my happiest. But when I let life get in the way of making this happen, I feel like there’s a void. Like something is missing. And if there’s anything that this book has taught me, is that it’s okay to do things just because it makes your soul happy. Because without a happy soul, it’s impossible to truly live a happy life.
• Don’t be afraid to create your own definition of success
This is a really hard one for me, as I’m sure it is for a lot of other people out there. Going back to societal norms and rules, there always seems to be a pretty generic definition of what is considered “successful” to the world, mainly, big titles and a large salary. And when we don’t live up to this particular definition, it becomes easy for us to be hard on ourselves and feel like there’s something wrong with us.
I’ve experienced this more times than I can count. In fact, my last blog post before this recounted a time when someone was pretty blatant about how they felt that the life I was living was not the one that I should have been going after. And this was someone that I barely even knew. But what I’ve finally learned is that no one, regardless of what their relationship is to you, has the right to judge you. And if you feel like the path you’re meant to be on is one that goes against societal norms, don’t let the fear of doing so stop you in your tracks. If getting up in the morning and not having someone tell you what to do or where to be is more important to you than making $200,000 a year, then that is your truth. If choosing to live a more minimalistic lifestyle is more important to you than having a 1,200 square foot apartment filled with tons of your belongings, then that is your truth. That is your definition of success.
For me, my definition of success is waking up in the morning with passion in my heart, excited for what the day has in store. It’s getting to be creative and challenge myself through art, photography and personal development. It’s getting to create my own schedule and being able to work from anywhere. It’s waking up with gratitude next to the person that I love the most each and every day, thankful for all the things that are present in our lives.
That is my truth. Don’t be afraid to find yours and own it unapologetically.
• Love hard, live healthy, and always, always be grateful
It’s easy to fall into the habit of closing ourselves off from the world. Sometimes it’s easier to keep ourselves guarded than to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to rejection and isolation. This is something that I’ve struggled with for many years that has made it hard for me to create true, meaningful and genuine relationships with people.
It’s also easy to put ourselves and our health on the back burner. Life can get pretty hectic, and sometimes we can get so caught up in doing everything else that we forget to take care of ourselves. It can also be easy to allow our current situation to discourage us and make us forget about all of our blessings and everything present in our lives that we are grateful for.
But If there’s anything that I’ve learned throughout my experiences this past year it’s this:
- Experiencing love is God’s greatest gift one can give themselves and putting up walls and barriers to accepting it into our lives does so much more harm than good.
- Without our health, we have nothing. We all have one life and the better our health, the better able we are to experience it and do the things that set our soul on fire.
- And finally, before we can move forward towards achieving what we desire in life, we first have to show gratitude for the things that we already have. It is the act of gratitude itself that opens up our minds and our hearts to receive the very gifts and blessings that we desire.
I hope that this post has helped inspire you to look at goal setting, resolutions or just life in general with a different perspective. I hope these words will help you to find your authentic truth and live a life that feels good down to your core. But most of all, I hope this post helped you to gain the courage to live life on your own terms and know that so many amazing things are possible when you decide to live life for you and not for anyone else ♥
P.S. – If you read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz , let me know in the comments section which parts of the book resonated with you the most! I promise you won’t be disappointed 😉