Where did this year go?
You might be thinking this too – that all-too-familiar feeling that each year seems to go that little bit faster than the year before it. I have read a few possible explanations of this – the main idea being that we are simply busier now and this makes time seem faster; or is it that we are too distracted from the present and spend too much effort focussing on the future that today just slips by unnoticed?
I have been guilty of this. Some tough times personally over the last three years inevitably shifted the focus to the future – I needed some hope and some purpose to my life, and this had me envisaging a medium to long term plan, sometimes at the expense of the here and now. While I do not see this as a negative, a continual focus on the future can mean missing the wonderful moments happening right in front of you, or at the very least, appreciating the accomplishments along the way.
I found myself on many occasions this year thinking that down patches were okay because there was a grander plan and that before I knew it, that future time would come. I feel though that it has also led me to wish the last three years away without realising it. Many friends seemed to share the thought at the end of the last few years that it was a relief to farewell the year that had just been, in the hope that the new year would bring a fresh start. Only for the new year to follow along a similar path as the year before it and the cycle continued.
I had these thoughts at the end of the last two years and I could feel myself thinking the same way about this year, until a few weeks ago. 2018 has undoubtedly challenged me in new and sometimes confronting ways – I seriously considered dropping out of uni for various reasons, there were personal and financial issues, as well as unhealthy living circumstances. This is where mindset plays its part – I have been trying to make a conscious effort of seeing unexpected and unwanted events in my life as learnings and opportunities to grow. The alternative is seeing these things as a failure and a waste of time and that thought process invariably becomes destructive. I don’t want this to be my default thought pattern – time is far too precious for wiping it away as a waste. My energy is also too important to spend stressing about things I can’t control, although this is sometimes easier said than done.
The reality is that things can change in an instant, and often. Sometimes these changes are welcome, sometimes they’re not. Which is why being present in the moment and trying to appreciate the little things is becoming more important to me. Try not to focus on things that have not gone to plan, or on things that you did not have control over. It might take time to accept your current circumstances, or to find a way to deal with them – and there is certainly no right or wrong way to do this, but I have learned over the years that a defeatist mindset does not lead to positive outcomes. And if you keep wishing time away, or viewing unfavourable events in your life as a waste of time, you will one day wonder where the years went and why you are still in a place that you do not want to be.
One thing I love about nursing is the perspective it continues to give me and the resultant appreciation of what I have, rather than fretting about the things I don’t. It is important to acknowledge that some days will just be flat and that is okay – you don’t have to feel amazing every day and you certainly don’t have to be down on yourself when you don’t feel the way you want to. The key is to recognise these times and ride that bump – but if it is a feeling you have every day, that is a signal to alter the course and think about your mindset. Find your way to process that feeling and adjust your outlook, whether that is reading a good book, heading outside for a walk in your favourite park, or simply sitting on a beach.
Try not to wish this year, or any year away, even if you are less than satisfied with how it has gone. There are people in tough situations that would love to have some time back, and it is easy to lose sight of this. Your time is precious and it might not seem to be slipping by so quickly if you spend a little more time appreciating the present moment.