What to Leave In, What to Leave Out in the New Year


The New Year is a great opportunity to take a moment to pause, see what’s working, what’s not, and what might be missing.

New Year’s resolutions often consist of these wonderful habits we plan to add to our routine. Sleeping more, reading new books, helping the community, meal prepping – they’re all on my list for 2021. New ideas and inspirations can be a great refresh, especially when they help to make you feel like the best version of you. After a year of so many things being taken away, it’s easy to get ambitious about all the things we’ll accomplish this year.

However, I’m starting to realize that I need to focus as much on what I leave out as what I add back in.

Surprisingly, Covid afforded me an opportunity to really focus on what works. With most everything canceled, we have all had the rare opportunity to have our slates cleaned off entirely. It’s easiest to focus on what we miss: playdates, coffee with friends, community events, concerts, family gatherings, and the list goes on.

As time has worn on, I’ve started to realize there are some things I don’t miss. Sometimes, a meeting really can be an email. That organization that seemed like the perfect fit at the beginning is becoming a time suck. Maybe adding another sport or activity for the kids isn’t actually necessary.

We have to learn to let it go.

Keeping the important things in, means leaving other things out.

One of the silver linings of Covid is that this time provided a legitimate cover not to do the things that I didn’t want to. As crazy as it sounds, simply not wanting to do something never felt like enough of a reason before. Sometimes all you need is a night on the couch cuddled up with the kids and some pizza. However, “urgent” obligations can make taking that time for you feel selfish and irresponsible. We end up wearing ourselves down doing things that we “should” or “feel like we need to” without carving out time to do the important work of living.

I was fortunate to hear one of our community leaders speak to a small group last year about getting involved in philanthropic efforts. Somebody asked the question, “what’s the most important thing to know about serving on a board?” Her answer was unexpected and was a bit of an epiphany for me.

She told us that you have to know when an organization or a board is not the right fit and move on. That it’s ok to try something and maybe it doesn’t work out.

Inevitably when something doesn’t work, you make way for someone else who could be perfect for that role. I have always had so much angst about stepping back from anything.  No organization has ever made me take a blood oath. Although I feel like I’ll be letting everyone and their dog down if I don’t make every meeting or volunteer for every project.

Here was someone who has been involved in countless organizations and made a true, deep impact on Pensacola through her charitable work – which I hope to do- telling us that it was ok to say no. Someone else who had the passion for the things that we didn’t would pick up the mantle and serve those causes far better.

Once activities and social events start up again, I know we’ll love every minute of seeing kids play their sports or perform on stage. I’m not sure any of us even remember the carefree days of deciding whether to attend something solely based on schedules rather than spikes in cases or sniffles that might be something more.

Yet now that I’ve had this extra unstructured time, I’m determined to keep it.

Our evenings and weekends are slower, and that has been a wonderful thing. I’ve been forced into a different pace that I always wanted, but I felt like we’d be missing too much to try.

I want to keep the walks around our neighborhood and playtime in the backyard in the afternoons. I want to keep long dinners with close friends that can go late into the evening because there’s nothing we have to rush to first thing the next morning. I want to keep the chance to read a book during the kids’ naptimes because the laundry can wait until later in the day. My hope for all of us is to focus on the things that worked to get us through this year and make those things our priority for the new year.  Work, activities, sports, and clubs will come back.

However, let’s remember to balance the things we rush back into with the things that slow us down.


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