I think for a lot of people this time of the year stirs up a lot of self-reflection. With the upcoming new year, there is the idea of a “better you” that is expected, the hopes to make the next 20-something “your year.” But the same always happens, we set high standards, not stepping stones, and when February rolls around, and the newness of the new year starts to fade, so does the progress. How do we stop this? How do we make sure that we keep to our path to be the best you possible, and what even is the best you possible?

I once heard someone say that “Idealism is the biggest joy snatcher.” Let’s break that apart, because this encompasses just what is going to stop this progress. By definition, an ideal is that which is satisfying to one's conception of what is perfect; that which is most suitable, most desirable. Simply put, idealism is living a life that is saturated with “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts.”

Especially around this time of the year, you might find yourself saying things like, “She shouldn’t have drank that much,” “He should’ve spent more,” “They should’ve spent more time with us.” “I should’ve went with them,” “The cancer shouldn’t have come back.” “I should have said I love you more.” “I should be skinner.” “My boss should’ve given me that raise.”

With all of these statements full of comparison and discontent, there will never be satisfaction. These statements show ideals. They show the way we wish things were, the way they “should’ve been.” But that isn’t the way they are.

These ideals are stealing your joy. Sitting stagnant wishing things were different leads to such a lifestyle that doesn’t allow you to be in the moment. Live in the life that you were given, with the time that you were allotted. Is not the best you possible one that uses the moments for their most impactful purpose?

By working to combat this feeling of not your best, we must decide. Decide whether or not to work or to waste time. My dad always says that “choice, not chance, determines one’s destiny.” Not wasting time doesn't mean that moments have to be spent doing homework, or constantly working on your next due date, but rather, also spending this life doing what is the most fulfilling. Maybe sometimes that means getting coffee with an old friend in order to catch up, because they need it.

Maybe that means going to bed early so that you can wake up refreshed and ready to combat the next day. Or maybe that means taking a run to take care of your physical self. Take a road trip with your best friend, stay in on Friday night, save your money, go visit family. Any of these things can be using the moment to your advantage.

This year, consider making that your resolution. Be intentional, be grateful, live in the moment. Embrace your moments. Learn to spend time, not waste it. Learn to live on purpose, not on accident.

Now, go make 2018 your year.