My Biggest Mistake of 2014

2014 was an excellent year. Lots of really great things happened for me last year, but they have been overshadowed by this one big mistake I made.

At the end of 2013, I heard lots of people talking through their resolutions and saying what they had and hadn’t achieved. Then I heard that people had written letters to themselves to open on New Years Day from the previous year. I thought this was a fantastic idea, so followed suit. What a mistake.

I opened this letter to myself just after midnight on January 1st 2015, and boy, did it suck. It started off with a round-up of 2013 which was nice, I read about a few things I had forgotten, and I even gave myself a £10 note to treat myself with. That part was OK. Then I moved on to my plans and expectations for 2014, and that’s where it nose-dived.

Expectations were my biggest mistake of 2014.

New year is quite often the time I set myself up for failure. I want to lose weight. I want to exercise (more). I want to eat healthily. I want to read lots of books. I want to travel to lots of countries. I want to buy property. These are all do-able things long-term, but to start a new year with expectations that 365 days later I will essentially be a different version of myself – Ellen 2.0 – is, frankly, ridiculous.

But I do it every year. I always set these unrealistic resolutions that I know I am going to fail at before I begin, but it’s tradition. So I thought that what I did in 2014 was a good idea. Sealing an envelope at the end of the first day of January ready to surprise myself the following year and see how many of the expectations for the year I actually fulfilled.

It was worse than previous years. I had written these things down. I committed them to paper. As my eyes scanned the words just after midnight I had the overwhelming feeling that I had massively let myself down. That I had all of these plans at the beginning of 2014, plans to travel, plans to be saving money so that I could move abroad in January 2015, and plans to be healthy and happy when the new year rolled in.

I was healthy. Until I read the letter I was reasonably happy. The negative massively outweighed the positives within my letter and made me forget the actual good stuff that happened during the year. Which is why it’s my biggest mistake of 2014.

The other negative factor from this letter is that for the last 12 days, the first 12 days of 2015, I have been dwelling on all the things I didn’t do – my “failures”. That is no way to start a new year. They aren’t even failures really. The only person that knew about them was me, I’ve not let anybody down or disappointed anyone except myself. The only reason I’ve let myself down is because I allowed myself to have stupidly high expectations for a 365 day period.

I’m not saying I’m never going to do the things in that letter. Some of them are still my ambitions, but I’m not going to beat myself up if they don’t happen on the time scale I have set in my head. In fact I am abolishing the time scale in my head.

This year, I wrote a letter to myself to open in 2016. I started it on January 1st this year with a recap of 2014 with the goal to do the same as last year, but I didn’t know what to write. I finished it today. The main theme is this: enjoy life, and trust that God is in control.

My only goal for 2015 is this:

Romans 12:2 –
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

One Comment Add yours

  1. ellie says:

    Oh Ellen, we all do this. You are not alone. Unreasonable, idealistic expectations (check!) followed by real life (check!) followed by belief that you have somehow ‘failed’ (check!) followed by crushing disappointment…. I do this. Regularly.
    Thankfully, God does not measure us by these things. Our ‘successes” and ‘failures’ are all measured as GRACE. In 2014 you may not have travelled the world, but you have been faithfully, willingly, humbly, obediently pursuing God in where He planted and positioned you for 2014 – and you did it like a boss!
    Don’t be discouraged my sweet friend, you are far MORE, and far BETTER than you give yourself credit for. Let me remind you how God sees you: holy, righteous, blameless, without fault, full of passion and full of verve, eager, wonderfully curious, quirky and funny, generous, thoughtful, kind and gentle.
    2014 was GOOD, and the best is yet to come…
    Love you x

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