I’m writing this from a cheap hotel room in Fort Nelson, British Columbia. It’s -9 degrees fahrenheit outside, so we’ve been crossing our fingers and hoping for pet-friendly hotels open in mid-winter as we’ve criss-crossed rural Alaska, then the Yukon, and now British Columbia as we make our way south to Seattle, praying that we don’t end up huddled under sleeping bags in the back of the truck (just because you can doesn’t always mean you should).
Today is New Year’s Eve and tomorrow will begin a brand new year, full of promise and that whole clean-slate thing. I love love LOVE planning for a new year, pulling out my sparkly new planner and washi tape and going month by month envisioning all of the miraculous things I’m going to achieve in the 12 months spread before me. There is something in the unrealistic optimism of that “planning” that fires me up, even though I generally understand that my idea for what is possible to get done in a single day/ week/ month/ year tends to not always be entirely practical and that it’s likely the year will end as many of mine do: with a bunch of planned goals left unfinished and a bunch of unplanned ones accomplished.
This year feels a little different for me. I feel different going into it. I haven’t had a chance to really sit down yet with my planner and my washi tape and my deepest desires for my life. Between wrapping up the Uncrazy Challenge and finishing our time in Alaska, I simply haven’t carved that time out and now here we are, on the cusp and I will enter tomorrow without a detailed map of where I want to take this year.
And the biggest surprise is that I feel 100% okay with that.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a general sense of my direction and some goals, but I haven’t taken them apart piece by piece yet. I will…it’s how I work, how I take bites out of elephants. But I haven’t yet. Which is fine.
It’s fine because we don’t actually have to “start” on “start dates.”
We don’t have to wait for a new year or a new month or a new week to begin. Hell, we don’t even have to wait for a new day. We can start whenever we’re ready. Even if it’s a Tuesday afternoon in mid-February.
It’s also fine because I can see that sometimes the planning gets in the way of the doing.
I am, by nature, a “productive procrastinator” who makes lists and elaborate color-coded schedules instead of simply doing the thing. I think organization has its place and in my world, there is no creativity where there is no order, so it’s important that I have a rough plan. But too often in my life, I’ve allowed my fear to masquerade as preparation, hiding behind the planning when I was afraid of failing at the doing.
So I’ve decided that my “word of the year” for 2019 is “DONE.”
That’s as far as I’ve made it in my precise goal setting, but I’m feeling empowered by it nonetheless. I have moved a few dreams from to-do list to to-do list over the years, always pushing them back until the circumstances were better or more ideal or inspiration struck. But this year, no more waiting. No more hiding behind the planning.
Done is better than perfect.
So that’s what I’m aiming for. Anne Lamott’s famous “shitty first draft.”
A done run is better for my fitness than waiting until the perfect circumstances for an ideal run and never getting to it. A “shitty first draft” of showing up for a few tough conversations is more likely to create motion toward change than hoping the “perfect” timing will ever arrive. A done “phase 1" website is better than a perfect website that only exists in theory. A shitty finished manuscript is better that the great american novel that only lives in my head.
I am embracing imperfection in a new and tangible way for myself this year. That’s not to say I won’t be working hard to improve, to come back and “edit” so that shitty first drafts can move toward their highest potential through revision and attention and growing skills.
But I’m getting down to business before I know how to do it all from here on out. I’m going to get my rough plans together and then start- creating actual action and then course correct when I’m actually dealing with the situation in front of me instead of attempting to map out all possible contingencies before I even begin.
We will land in Seattle in just a few days and we are planning to stay put for the year there. I have a whole slew of mixed emotions about that fact and am struggling to keep up with how quickly they change from moment to moment.
But “done” applies here as well. My temptation is to sit here as we drive and try to imagine all the ways this year will play out. But it never works that way, does it? I am going into a bit of uncharted territory here and my imagination can’t cover all the possibilities. So I might as well simply prepare what I can and begin DOING whatever next best step is actually in front of me as I go, rooted in the trust I have in myself to be able to swerve, pivot, and course correct as I need to.
It’s a brand new year. Let’s make it one full of shitty first drafts!