Just Start… Then Figure it Out

The best part of starting a new year is the promise of a new beginning. Starting over, frequently encouraged by enthusiastic writers but a rather quixotic achievement, seems to be more attainable at the end of each December. For some reason, we feel more empowered to become a better version of ourselves as the end of the year draws near. We believe that we can be better leaders, employees and team members — that we can be better people. We have the confidence that we should try again, give certain things up and have new experiences. We trust that, in the upcoming year, we will prioritize our family, friends and ourselves over our jobs. Obviously, we promise that we will exercise and eat organic food. The list can get quite lengthy — and sometimes, it does.

As a Millennial who happens to have a type-A personality I do not have a problem with ambitious goals, I love them. I also do not mind lengthy lists: few things give me as much satisfaction as crossing items off my to-do lists. However, I loathe that chest-tightening, overwhelming feeling that comes with the internal pressure to perform. I despise that heavy burden on my shoulders when I am not keeping up with “the list” or with “everybody else”. My goals for 2015 were aspiring and aggressive. I wrote them after spending an afternoon reminiscing about how my life had greatly improved in 2014 and how I was hungry — and ready — for more. My goals involved, among other things, finding my purpose in life, deciding on a new career path, finishing the MBA program with straight As, starting new financial habits, starting a daily yoga practice, creating an ESL/empowerment program for underprivileged immigrant women, honing my skills in Accounting and Finance, achieving speaking fluency in Spanish and calling my parents who live in Brazil every other day.

Eager, bold and a tad pretentious. The type of list that can send the good empowerment feeling on its merry way and wring one’s heart out until it is beating heavily. As an aspiring business manager — and to avoid paralysis by analysis — I broke these goals down in SMART goals and laid them carefully in a quite achievable plan. I set myself up for success and was ready to start 2015. Then, life happened. Nothing too dramatic, nor too tragic. Only a series of great opportunities that I committed to. The pace became insanely faster and I never got the time to pay attention to my carefully developed 2015 SMART goals — because they were not New Year’s resolutions. While living in the fast lane, I learned an invaluable lesson: just start and then figure it out. I realized that the human ability to figure things out as we go is much higher than we give ourselves credit for. Although I am still an avid believer in planning and strategy, I also believe that, sometimes, we are better off jumping headfirst.

So here is my proposition for 2016: let’s just start and then figure it out. We already know that we are able to become better people, aim higher, reach farther and achieve more. We do not need a list, an app or an elaborate plan for that. In a deeper level, we also know that any “resolution list” we write down today will, most likely, be history by the end of February. Take a moment and think carefully: What do you really want? What is holding you back? Just start and then find a way of keeping it alive. If you are uncertain of what you want, look around and within. Answers are everywhere, we just need to pay closer attention to them. The magic behind starting out is that we suddenly turn something abstract into something attainable. That is where we draw our strength from while we are figuring out the next steps. Just start, then I guarantee you will figure it out. May you have the courage and energy for that. Happy New Year!