✨Progress✨ Over Perfection
A lovely chat with one of my wellness gurus on going into the New Year.
Happy Wednesday, my Dearest Twenty-Somethings! I hope everyone’s staying warm, safe and sane these days.
Last week’s newsletter focused on New Year’s resolutions, and this week’s is all about how to actually achieve them. We’re all about the follow-through here at Dear Twenty-Somethings!
The other day, I had a lovely chat with my pal from college (we were neighbors in the dorms!), motivational guru and fave yoga instructor, Janelle Fellenz. She studied psychology and then got her integrative nutrition health coaching certification and yoga certification and works as an office manager and health coach for a naturopathic medicine office, and also as a yoga teacher. She’ll be 25 this month (Aquarius queen) and she’s from the San Francisco Bay Area. Don’t you love her already? Let’s get right into it.
How are you preparing for the new year? How do you recommend others prepare for the new year?
Right now I think I'm in the follow-through period. It's like, all right, we've set the intentions. Let's go. For me, my preparation looks like going through my journal from the year. So I have ongoing notes in my notes app with one for each month of the year. At the end of each week, typically every Sunday, I write about how my week was, anything notable, or what I learned. Really just anything that's going on. And then by the end of the year, I've got some good data to look back at and be like, oh, wow. Maybe I was sad every time I texted that one dude back or I had really good moods every Friday after I went to the gym, you know, it just helps me see patterns and what's working for me and what's not.
And that's what gives me a lot of clarity for setting intentions or thinking about what is something that I should focus on or lean into in the new year. And if you aren't a journal person and you’re just hearing this now and you’re like, I didn't journal all of last year, that's fine. I find that you can go through your photos from the last year to give you a quick reminder of what you were doing, who you were hanging out with, how you felt month to month. What sparks joy when I'm looking back through these things? What pictures am I looking back at like, you know what, I really don't need to recreate that? So just any sort of reflection that you can do through your records of how the year went, whether that's visual or whatever.
What’s your best advice for sticking to your New Year’s resolutions? Are there any surefire ways to assure you achieve your goals?
There isn't a one-size-fits-all for how to be successful in your New Year's resolutions. I mean, those reflecting practices work for me, but then as far as execution or making a plan based on those reflections, some people do really well with really specific goals, or SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, anchored in time. Some people do really well with those and some of your goals can be SMART and some can be more general.
For me, I'm a huge list-maker so I have to be careful that I don't get neurotic and just start making a laundry list of things that I need to accomplish. I think it takes you out of the process of it, and it can be more about the reason why you're doing it. Having a balance of SMART goals and less-and-more lists is something I really recommend. Like maybe: I want to have less screen time and more time outdoors, or values that you really want to cultivate. I feel like these things can become a compass for how you make your choices on a day to day. So if patience is something I really want to cultivate in 2022, I'm not going to be like, all right, I need to sit and watch paint dry two times a week all year and that's how I’ll measure it. It's the mental reminder for me that anytime I have the opportunity to get really upset or agitated or restless, I can remember that patience is something I want to work on. If being social is something that you want to do more of in 2022, you could take the SMART route and say, okay, I'm going to go to a bar twice a month and I'm going to make one new friend a month and I have to get dinner with a friend once a week. You can set really specific goals or it can just be that value of I'm going to be more social and less isolating with a less-and-more list. So every time you’re given the opportunity to hangout with someone or to do a social event, you can easily choose the social option. Different strokes for different folks for different resolutions!
I'm a visual person and as someone who struggles with attention, I need reminders. I can journal Sunday night about how I'm going to be the most compassionate person all week and then wake up the next day and someone cuts me off in traffic and it can be really hard, it goes out the window, you know? I think visual reminders are good for me. I have Post-it notes on my mirror with the values that I want to cultivate in 2022, like patience, peace. So every time I look in the mirror, it's like, oh, that's right. That's how we want to create our day today. I'm a big fan of apps or electronic reminders too because many of us always have our phone on us, so we might as well make the most of that. You might set an alarm for noon every day to do a gratitude practice or download an app that sends you alerts a few times a day to come back to your breath or to give you that mantra or that reminder of what you're focusing on this year, utilizing technology to keep you on track. I'm also a big fan of accountability buddies. I wish I was just someone who could hold myself to my expectations and my standards in all parts of my life, but sometimes you need someone to remind you, because motivation comes and goes. So maybe at the end of the week, having someone you check in with, like, did you go to the gym three times? All right, I did too. Or maybe they text you every Wednesday morning and ask, did you meditate? It's Wednesday meditation morning! Find someone who is on this journey with you and you can tag team the motivation as it comes and goes.
Why is the beginning of the year so important for setting intentions and goals?
For young people, and I think most people in their twenties in general, I feel like a lot of us are in such transitional periods of our lives. We’re constantly letting go of some parts of our identities and integrating new parts and whatnot, so I think the new year is a really important time. Get everything out of your closet, out of your car, out of your head, out of your phone that isn’t something that is nourishing or in alignment with how you want your life to look and feel like this year. I think it's really easy to bring a lot of stagnant energy when we're not able to let go, and that stops us from having new habits or relationships as we're setting these resolutions. So out with the old, in with the new for the new year. Make room for the stuff that you want to bring in.
I think it's important to be compassionate with yourself too. As you set these goals, you might find that you made goals for the wrong reasons, right? I think it's important to be observant of yourself in your pursuit of these goals and figure out what part of this feels healthy for you, and what part feels like a chore or an obligation. It’s good to question the reasoning for your resolution, whether it's out of love or because of conditional love or a lack of self-confidence, so the goals and resolutions can change and I encourage them to if they’re not turning out to be in your best interest. Be flexible and be patient with yourself as you figure out what is worth pursuing and what isn't, because you can always have a new resolution. I think part of growing up is learning that priorities change, which is why you have different priorities than last year, right? So why can't you have a different priority this month as things begin to progress?
What’s the most important part about preparing for the new year?
Obviously this is different for every single person, but I would say you need to make time to reflect and reassess, and I'm not saying you need to journal. Instead of trying to form this new habit on the first day of the year, where you write down your resolution and then December rolls around and you’re like, f*ck, I haven't thought about that since, you know, maybe on the first of the month or every Sunday, find a day for you to look back and think, okay, if my resolution was to be more social this year and I literally haven't left my room all month, I said no to every invitation, let’s reassess how I can get on my way to that resolution. This month, let's make some concrete plans with a friend, let's put a Post-it note up, just reassess what you need for accountability, whether that's externally through a friend or just making it SMART.
I also think your why is really important. Something I've learned in health coaching is that motivation comes and goes, but purpose is what keeps you on track towards your goals and your intentions. Because some days you're going to be tired and you don't feel like doing the thing you're supposed to be doing. Motivation is not always there when circumstances shift, but that reason why you're truly doing it, that is something that you can tap into, even when you don't feel like getting anything done. So ask yourself, why is this important to me? on a much deeper level. For example, some days I don't feel like teaching yoga. I'm like, I want to finish Emily in Paris or I want to cook something or it's raining and I don't want to go to my car. I don't have the motivation, but my purpose is that it makes me feel better physically and mentally and it gives that gift back to other people. And so that purpose is there, whether or not I feel like getting to the car, to the studio.
Additionally, keep it simple. We're only human. If you've ever tried to take on too much at once—I know you would never, Quinn!😉—you might find that you're not able to actually fully accomplish any of the 100 things on your plate. You just partially accomplished like five of them, you know? So keep it simple and realistic. Don't overextend yourself, pick the things that feel most important to you and choose those again and again. And then once you have that under your belt, you've set that precedent for yourself saying, wow, I really can follow through on things, then pick a few things at a time and really go for them. Creating that story in your head and in your heart that you can follow through sets you up for success in the future, knowing that you have done hard things before, you have followed through and you can do it again.
I would also say progress over perfection—if you didn't meditate a day last year and you wanted to meditate every day, this year, if you meditate every other day or even two days a week, that's a hell of a lot more than last year. So whatever your goals are, remember that this is supposed to make you a better person, not a perfect person. I bring up meditation because daily meditation has been a goal for me for the last few years and I was very, very far off from that two years ago. I was much closer last year and this year I'm going to get as close as I can, but I wouldn't be this regular if I didn't have those last years of practice, which were not perfect, but really helped me. It's really part of the process of just becoming better and not perfect, for yourself.
How are we feeling about 2022, my Dearest Twenty-Somethings? I’m not sure about you, but I’ve got my SMART goals and less-and-more lists written and my Post-its up. What are you waiting for?
In case you were wondering, I’ve been listening to my winter playlist, which you can find here. With that, here are a few picks to get you through the week:
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides - I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough! If your resolution was to read more, start here. A woman commits murder and never speaks again. The twist at the end… don’t even get me started! Go get your copy!
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid - She reads like a thriller, but is really a page-turner about a 25-year-old woman and her experience working for a rich mom that tastefully touches on race, class, privilege, in a subtle but thought-provoking way. I’m trying to read more authors of color (women especially this year), and here’s a great one to add to the list!
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - Looking back, this was one of my favorite books of 2020. There’s nothing like a world-shattering plot twist, and the off-beat (read: weirdo) protagonist is bizarrely refreshing.
How to with John Wilson - If you’re a fan of anything even remotely adjacent to Nathan Fielder, check this out. He lives in my old Brooklyn neighborhood and essentially sets out to create how-tos like “How to Make Small Talk” and journeys through NYC for his adventures. Seriously hilarious.
The Vow - And now for something completely different! Funny enough, How to with John Wilson led me to this series. The Vow tells the story of NXIVM from start to finish: an Albany-based international cult disguised as a multi-level marketing scheme and self-improvement program. The leader of the sex slave cult group was recently sentenced, and I’ll leave it at that.
What Happened, Brittany Murphy? - This heart-breaking two-part docuseries covers the questionable circumstances surrounding the death of 32-year-old actress Brittany Murphy and the suspicion surrounding her husband, Simon Monjack, who died in the exact same way in the exact same spot just five months later.
“Cutting Loose” by William Stafford
Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose
from all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.
Arbitrary, a sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell where it is, and you
can slide your way past trouble.
Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path – but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be lost,
learning how real it is
here on the earth, again and again.
Affirmation of the week: I allow myself to focus on completing one step at a time.
Question of the week: How will you approach this year differently than the last?
Thank you all for reading this week’s newsletter! I’m always looking to improve my work, so leave a comment, send me a message, or fill out this form to tell me about what you want to read about in upcoming Dear Twenty-Somethings! I’m all ears. Also, if you know anyone who might be a good interviewee for the newsletter, let me know in the form. Thank you always!
If you liked what you read, send this newsletter to a friend! Heck, send it to 10 friends! Sending love and light to you, wherever you are. 🌟
Cheers & happy Wednesday! Stay well and I’ll talk to you next week.
xoxoxo, Quinnie <3