Monday, November 27, 2017

The Goals I Didn't Reach And My Weak Areas Are Not Negative

Last week I received an email from a friend of mine. She reads this blog. From time to time she'll give feedback. What she thought was funny, moving, boring, a little over the edge, or downright adorable. This time around, she blasted me with a heavy dose of constructive criticism. After reading her email, I sat back in my chair. Inhaled. Slowly. Exhaled even slower. I skimmed the blog posts I've published over the past month or so. Sure, she had a point, but...
"You know I enjoy reading your blog columns and I'm thrilled that you found your niche in the pet blogging world. You're beyond talented and an exceptional writer. However, I've noticed, as of late, you'd been focusing too much on the negative. What I mean by that is you're honing in on the goals you didn't reach in 2017 and the areas you didn't have much time to focus on. I think you're being too hard on yourself. How about focusing on the goals you did reach, the lives you touched, the random acts of kindness you extended, and the many occasions you celebrated this year?"

I sat with that for a long time. What she said made sense. As with any email or message I receive about this blog, I take any and all comments into consideration. I read them. Sometimes two or three times. Ponder.

My friend's email was no exception.

I'll admit, I've been focusing a lot on what I didn't get accomplished and why. During this time of year, I get reflective. I think about where I was a year ago. The goals I reached or didn't reach. Changes that I needed to make in order to accomplish what I did or didn't. Strengths. Weaknesses. What I needed to improve on. Etc.

It's easy to point out the good stuff. The goals I reached. The great stuff that happened. In 2017 alone, there were many. We went forth with DIY Dog Mom Projects. Our family got a little bigger when we adopted Willa the first week of March. She had some health issues and was in full heat during that time, but we got through it along with the help of our friends who generously donated stuff. Lisa was promoted into management after almost 15 years with the company she works for and after completing a management in training course that lasted 11 months. We got to witness a miracle back in June and because of that miracle, one of our neighbor friends is still with us today. A few more of our neighbors became family to us. I also proved myself to a client who now trusts me to do some very important work for her.

It's been an incredible year for so many reasons.

On the flip side, and this is where I dispute my friend's comment, I feel that it's equally important to focus on what I have not accomplished and what I didn't actually get done. The goals I didn't reach. What I didn't accomplish because of this reason or that. Areas in which I failed. Why I didn't reach goals. Why I failed. My weaknesses.

Sure, traveling to that place isn't easy. It's uncomfortable. It's so much easier to bask in what I've accomplished and where I've succeeded. That spotlight is always warm and comfortable. However, in order to gain complete perspective and make the changes needed for success, I've learned that I need to go to those areas that are dark. Lonely. Those places where confetti isn't falling from the ceiling and there is very little applause. To grasp onto the knobs of the doors I'm always hesitant to open.

In my world, that's not a negative place. It's reality. I'm human. I have strengths. I have weaknesses. I have succeeded. I have failed. I've had trials and tribulations. I've slacked. I've exceeded. I've collapsed in the spotlight. I've dusted myself off in the darkness.

One such example would be reading the posts from well-known bloggers who have published a book or two in 2017. I've been wanting to publish a couple of books now for a few years now. I've kept up with the happenings of these bloggers for years. Their schedule, like with mine, is hectic and non-stop. When they've published a book, I've thought, "Seriously? How can they possibly do that?" Or, I've witnessed a local artisan who has become successful on the overnight. My immediate thought is, "Like. Seriously. How. Did. That. Happen."

When I get reflective and visit that dark place, the one that's not comfortable, I realize that I have the talent. The education. The experience. All of it. Under my proverbial belt. To succeed.

That dark and lonely place helps me to put things in perspective. I could have done all of that and then some, but...

That "but" is what I need to focus on.

Those distractions.

Those failures.

The times when it was much easier to highlight the good than to admit defeat.

Those areas in which I failed or was defeated, I don't view those as negative. When I take those steps back and look at the entire picture, I see those areas as learning blocks.

Let's face it, life is all about learning. We make mistakes. There's a slew of trials and tribulations. None of us are perfect. We'll continue to make mistakes for as long as we're living. What matters is do we keep making those same mistakes over and over or do we learn from them?

I choose to learn from them.

When I learn from my mistakes and focus on where I failed and the goals I didn't reach, I become wiser, Stronger. More determined. Motivated.

In less than 2 weeks, I will be celebrating my 44th birthday.

I'm in that mid-life stage.

I'm at the point in my life where I can celebrate my accomplishments. Bask in that glory for a little while. And, I can travel to that not-so-glorious area of failures and the finish lines I didn't cross.

And, I will visit both of those places with a peace of mind.

In a positive light.

There is always room to grow. To learn. To gain more wisdom. To make mistakes and learn from them. Where I was a year ago isn't where I am now. Where I'll be a year from now isn't where I am now.

It all balances out.

I raise my glass to 2017. The Spotlight. The dark and uncomfortable blocks I've encountered throughout the journey. All of it.

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