Happy New Year!
 
A major snowstorm hit Virginia on Monday, knocking out the internet to much of Charlottesville. I spent the time I would normally use on my newsletter to look through social media friends’ posts about New Year’s resolutions and 2022 goals. 
 
The beginning of the year is a great time for launching new projects and setting goals. Last year, I wrote about the importance of envisioning your success. In 2019, I shared the five questions that can help you (re)define your writing life. Both are still relevant, but this year I want to talk about something I learned that can make or break your goals.
 
It all started with a photo shoot.
 
Well, it really started with all the ways I avoided scheduling a photo shoot for nearly three years. 
 
Without realizing it, I’d become photo-reluctant in middle age, much like my mother. Maybe it was the bad selfies I took—you know the ones with the faces you thought looked good but didn’t? Or perhaps it was something about finally looking my age that made me camera shy. 

I’ve known for years that professional headshots were in order. But I kept waiting for that magical day when I was well-rested, had salon-perfect hair and lines smoothed by that miracle cream I’ve yet to discover. On that special day, those pesky few pounds that hang around like a bad friend or elevator fart would be gone.
 
I finally scheduled a photo shoot in early 2020. Two weeks before my appointment, we entered the pandemic lockdown. I could’ve rescheduled over the summer, but I’d stopped dying my hair, which gave me yet another reason to delay.
 
After my Website Relaunch and Redesign webinar with Jane Friedman, I decided to dig a little deeper, and soon discovered the obvious: fear of what the camera might capture held me back. Unwilling to let fear win, I scheduled a new photo shoot.
 
It happened at the worst possible time. I had a broken finger. We’d recently experienced a death in the family. An identity theft issue had resulted in hours of phone calls to credit card companies. All of this made sleep elusive and I’d yet to find that magic eye cream or shed my pandemic weight gain. 
 
But I committed to showing up anyway. 
 
Hours before the shoot, I pulled this card from my Osho Zen tarot deck: 

 

Fun was the one thing I needed. It was also the last thing I’d considered in the run-up to this experience.

When I arrived at Sarah Cramer Shield’s photographer’s studio, I told her about recent events and my intention for this session. Then I flipped off the camera and we spent the next hour in a state of playful abandon. Every few shots, Sarah said, “there she is” and smiled. 

I cried when I received my pictures. For the past three years, I’d feared the flaws the camera would reveal. Not once had I considered the best self the photographer would capture. But there she is.  

 

And I’m grateful she showed up.
 
This leads me to the resolutions we’re all writing. While setting goals and intentions are important, what really matters is how you see yourself. When you look in the mirror do you see a king or queen or something else? 
 
What you see impacts the goals you choose, how you approach them, and what you allow yourself to achieve. 
 
So, how do you see yourself? 
 
Not sure? Here are a few exercises you can try. 
 
Exercise One: The Mirror Trick
 
Look at yourself in the mirror. While focusing on your eyes, say, “I love you” to your image. Can’t do it? That’s okay. I couldn’t even say “I” the first twelve times I tried this exercise. Do it every day for a month, then do one loving thing for yourself and see what happens. 
 
Exercise Two: Celebrate, Explore, and Release
 
This is a modified version of an exercise I read in a recent newsletter from Marie Forleo
 

  1. Write down what you accomplished in 2021 and then celebrate each item.
  2. Write down one mistake you made and what you learned from it. 
  3. Write down all the things you need to let go of. Then, get honest about the ones you’re ready to release. Write your release items on a piece of paper, then burn it. Place the ones you’re not ready to release in an envelope or a box you can revisit later in the year.

 
Exercise Three: Schedule Your Own Photography Session

You don’t need to hire a photographer to do this. Schedule some time with someone who brings you joy. Agree to take silly and serious pictures of each other. You can use the video option on your phone or take speed shots to capture your best look. Smile, flip the camera off, wear a crown. Do whatever conjures a sense of play and the person taking your picture will look up and say, “there you are.” And when you look at those pictures, you’ll find your best self. 

Print that picture and look at it every day. Seeing your best self will allow you to be your best self, and that, my friends, is how you’ll achieve your goals.

So what do you love about yourself? Let me know so I can create a list of attributes for next week’s newsletter. 

I celebrate you and your best self, which is always there, even if you can’t see it. 

And as always, write on.

 

 

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