Several years ago, I quit making New Year’s resolutions. They felt empty and discouraging. They felt like a set up. And to be honest, they just weren’t working for me. So, I traded my New Year’s resolution for a New Year’s mantra. A phrase to use all year long, in every area of my life. A phrase to guide and encourage me. And a phrase to lean on, when doubt and uncertainty took hold.
I played with the concept for a few years, before finally finding my footing. And in 2017, I went all in with my mantra, “Be courageous.” It was a call to action, a call to be brave. The mantra was simple, but it radically changed my life. Using that phrase, for 365 days, in moments big and small, shaped me in ways I never could have imagined. (You can read more about that here.)
That year made me a believer in mantras and the power of words. It confirmed my decision to kick resolutions to the curb, favoring a personal and encouraging catchphrase instead. I continued the tradition in 2018, tackling uncertainty. And I made enormous progress in my ability feel uncertain but to start and move forward anyway. At the start of 2019, I couldn’t help but feel pretty stable. I felt like I’d found a stride in my adult life, one that I’d never really felt before. Courage had become a habit. Uncertainty had become less terrifying. So early this year, I decided I’d focus on a less radical change, focusing instead on fine tuning.
I thought about all of the things I wanted to feel in my life. Energized, connected, and resilient. And I thought about the ways I was and wasn’t setting myself up for these feelings. I realized I could take better care of myself, fueling my body for how I wanted to feel. I wanted to focus more on sleep, hydration, and nourishment. I wanted to focus more on how I spent my time, what I read, and what I watched. I wanted to get more intentional about the things I consumed and how they were (or weren’t) fueling me. So for three weeks in early 2019, I played with the mantra, “Fuel your body for how you want to feel.” It felt a little clunky, but I scribbled it on a post it note. I made it the lock screen on my phone. And then, three weeks into the year, I threw that mantra out the window.
I thought 2019 would be a year of stability and predictability. I thought I had things pretty figured out. And I thought I’d continue to do what I knew. But life had other plans. Ones that were anything but predictable. I made two enormous life changes in 2019. And I had no idea how the hell to do either of them.
At the beginning of the year, I initiated the process of looking for a new office space. While I’d been terrified two years prior to strike out on my own, my practice filled quickly, and I found my groove. I wasn’t looking for a major change, just a nicer space with a little more room. I toured an office space with my real estate agent. We were actually at the complex to see a smaller space, one that was exactly what I said I wanted. But the leasing agent told me about a larger space, just next door, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to look. The minute I saw the space, I fell in love. It was five times the size of my current space. And it had way more space than I needed. But I felt something there. I saw something there. And I couldn’t shake it.
For years, I’d dreamed of growing a group practice, one in line with my vision and my values. My heart whispered about it often, and it came up frequently in conversation. But I always brushed it aside, overwhelmed by all the things I didn’t know how to do. So later that week, after seeing the space, Matt and I talked it over. I was terrified. But in a moment of insane courage and radical encouragement from Matt, I texted my real estate agent. “I’ll take the big space.”
Immediately, I thought of all things I didn’t know how to do. The things that seemed daunting. And the things I was afraid I couldn’t figure out. I didn’t know how to hire anyone. I didn’t know how to do payroll. I didn’t know how to panel other psychologists, how to bill for them, or how to market them. I didn’t know how to check someone’s references, how to make an employment offer, or how to write a contact. I didn’t have a clue about any of that. And that’s where my 2019 mantra was born. “You’ll figure it out.”
This phrase became my guiding light for the year. My constant reminder and trusty encouragement, when fear and doubt were strong. “You’ll figure it out.” This phrase wasn’t meant to be passive or dismissive. It wasn’t about avoiding or being rash. This mantra was about trusting my ability to find the answers. To do the work. To put in the effort. This phrase was about having faith in my ability to get back up. To try again. To keep going. This phrase was about seeing my ability to navigate tough stuff. Stuff that’s murky and uncertain. Stuff that’s confusing and overwhelming.
“You’ll figure it out” was my reminder to trust in myself and my ability to find, get, and create answers. Because up to that point in life, there’d been lots I figured out. Lots that, at one point, seemed daunting. But it somehow became doable. I realized that in life, I was batting a thousand for figuring stuff out. Not doing it perfectly and not necessarily succeeding. But figuring it out.
Then, in early January, at nearly the same time as I was entering unknown territory in my professional life, I was entering unknown territory in my personal life. Motherhood. Or the hopes of it. After months of paperwork, meetings, interviews, and appointments, Matt and I completed the adoption application process. We got the green light to move forward. We could officially be chosen by potential birth parents.
Last week on Instagram, I shared about the moment when our profile went live on our adoption agency’s website. It was a moment of pure elation, quickly followed by, “Oh my God, what the hell do I know about being a mom?” There was so much I didn’t know. The things ranged from serious and existential to silly and seemingly simple. The adoption process is an incredible exercise in letting go of control. You have no idea what will happen and when, which gives you almost no ability to prepare or plan. I found myself trying to plan for all 8,000 possible scenarios. I realized how much I didn’t know. How much I couldn’t plan. And how much I couldn’t control. The thought of it nearly paralyzed me. But then I remembered my mantra. “You’ll figure it out.”
I thought about all the challenging things I’ve handled in my life. The complex relationships I’ve navigated. And the curveballs I’ve batted away. I thought about all the things that were once new, that became familiar. The words that were once foreign that I figured out. Scary, uncertain, and challenging things weren’t new to me. I’d faced those before. And I always found a way to deal with them. I always seemed to find my way, my footing, and my path. So why would that stop now?
“You’ll figure it out.” I must have said it a thousand times during our wait to become parents. And even after our sweet Lincoln was born. “You’ll figure it out.” Again, this phrase isn’t about pawning off the need to learn. It isn’t about minimizing an experience or making an impulsive decision. And it’s not about dealing with things at some imaginary time of “later.” This mantra has been my call to believe in myself and my ability to figure it out. It’s been my reminder to have my faith in my ability to learn, persevere, and stick with it. “You’ll figure it out” has been my admission that I don’t know everything, but damnit, I’ll dig deep, find what I need, and work for what I treasure.
For nearly 365 days, I’ve used this mantra on repeat. “You’ll figure it out.” Sometimes I sang it, with lighthearted encouragement. Sometimes I belted it out with gusto and defiance. And sometimes, I whispered it through tears, feeling scared and afraid. But each time I used this mantra, I felt better, stronger, and more encouraged. I felt less worried, less preoccupied, and less desperate for control.
“You’ll figure it out” reminded me of my ability to discover, learn, and persevere. And as 2019 comes to a close, I can’t help but think about all the new and crazy things I’ve managed to do, both in my professional and personal life. Things that were once scary and new. Things that were stumping and confusing. I handled them. I learned. And without fail, I’ve figured them out.
Thank you 2019. For teaching me. For helping me learn. And for reminding me that I can tackle new things and figure them out. Friend, if you’re ready to ditch the resolutions and take on a mantra for the new year, click here for the easiest way to get started. Just a few simple words have the power to profoundly change your life. I promise.
PS: As 2019 comes to a close, I want to thank you. For being here, for visiting this space, and for investing in yourself. Thank you for letting me share, letting me lead, and letting me connect with you. Your courage and openness are beyond appreciated.