Giving Myself Permission to Get the Bare Minimum Done


January is generally a time for lofty goals and fresh starts. It’s when we think about what we’ve accomplished in the past year and what we want to achieve in the twelve months ahead of us. Looking forward brings an eagerness and a new energy to it. And with that, comes much expectation.

I personally enjoy a challenge. I like learning new things and living up to expectations, sometimes even exceeding them. So, it’s hard for me to not set goals. To not aim high or push myself.

But this year, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. This year, I’m giving myself permission to get the bare minimum done.

We’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to this virus. In fact, where I live, things are worse than they’ve ever been in our area. With the rollout of vaccinations, there’s hope on the horizon, but we’re still smack dab in the middle of an extremely hard place to be. Nothing has changed in that respect. I’m still a mother, an employee, a soon-to-be teacher again. So until that end is closer in sight, I’m going to allow myself to limp across the finish line wearing the same old joggers I’ve had on for a week.

This has been the toughest experience of many of our lives. Somehow we’re supposed to continue doing laundry and dishes and making lunches and working full days, teaching our kids to read, spending time with our partners, and now that it’s January, trying to achieve something even bigger and better on top of that. Who said going above and beyond was a good idea in the middle of a pandemic?

Like most of us, I’m getting by. I’ve learned to focus on the good, because I am still a very lucky and fortunate person. But this year, I don’t plan on setting any new personal bests. If my kids are eating some healthy food, getting fresh air and staying on top of schoolwork, I’m golden. If I do the laundry before someone runs out of underwear, fantastic. If the dishes are loaded and unloaded each day, amazing.

But if I don’t exercise more, lose weight, get organized, learn a new skill, save more or spend less money—that is just fine. I am still doing grand. I can’t put that kind of pressure on myself right now.

Read the room, January. Now is not the time.

Here’s what I hope for 2021 instead. I hope that my kids know that I love them. I hope that they feel secure and safe. I hope they get to go to school in-person and their activities start up again. I hope I get to see my parents a lot. I hope I can go into my friend’s house and hold her baby. I hope I can see a movie in a darkened theatre with popcorn and a giant ice-filled bucket of soda. I would love to have brunch again. And I hope my youngest daughter doesn’t have to have a second COVID birthday, but if she does, I hope she feels special.

Most of all, I hope humankind has learned from this. I hope we come out of it kinder and gentler to each other and to ourselves. I hope we can all see that success is different for everyone and if this is not your year to achieve wonderful things, you’re still doing great. You still matter.

Permission, for 2021, is my goal. Permission to accept myself as I am. Permission to grow older without any lofty achievement because I have made it this far into a pandemic. We have all done that. And we have all done a really good job.



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