Surely you’ve felt it: the high drama that swirls around the beginning of each year. Start your New Year right! Get a running start! Don’t be left behind!
Maybe it energizes you. Maybe it motivates you. Or maybe it does just the opposite.
Maybe it makes you feel inadequate, wondering if you’ll ever lose the weight, get in shape or catch the dream.
When I walked the Camino de Santiago last May and June, I got a glimpse of what life is like when the drama is peeled away.
As I walked, I met people striving to increase the distance they covered each day. After all, the Camino was supposed to make us stronger, right? Whole dinner conversations revolved around how many kilometers were covered, and how many more would be covered the next day.
Something about those conversations made me uncomfortable (and it wasn’t just their descriptions of their aches, blisters and lost toenails!) I didn’t want to feel inadequate because I racked up less distance than they did, or stoke my inner critic by starting my days anxious.
I wanted to hang with a different set: people who really wanted to savor the moments of each day, even as we made steady progress towards Santiago.
Now if you know me, you’ll know that that’s a real change. I was raised competitive and have a history of hyper-achievement. But this was different.
There was no point in racing through the Camino. If I did, I’d risk missing the hawks with the 8-foot wingspan that only appear on a certain stretch. Or the neon-blue butterflies around the mud puddles. Or the spontaneous conversation with a waiter or farmer or fellow pilgrim that happened because I had room for it in my day.
There was no point in walking at a pace that didn’t let me enjoy the experience at least as much as the destination.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve done my best to walk through each day at a pace of my choosing. Yes, I have goals and dreams, and I LOVE results. But I’m realizing that getting there faster isn’t the only goal.
For me, loving the journey is now non-negotiable. I don’t want to achieve, only to look back and see that I got there at the expense of fun, family or – heaven forbid – my health.
So there won’t be any bootcamps or blitzes or 10X anything in my near future. I’ve set up my dreams for the coming year, and I’m excited about creating them. But I’ll get there at a pace that won’t rag me out or tempt me to quit come February 1st.
Love the intensity of a bootcamp? Go for it! However you start your year, let it be in a way that feels right for you. You’ll know because you feel energized and enlivened, not exhausted, inadequate or tense. You’ll know you’re on your OWN path, not someone else’s.
(Having trouble finding your path, or keeping going when what you want seems out of reach? Maybe I can help. Take a look at my programs here.)
For me it was the Camino that reminded me to always be true to myself. For you it may have been cancer. Here’s to whatever has helped us cut through the drama and embrace what’s right for us.
A big hug to you, my friend.
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