By Conor and Michaela Sanchez
Ok, maybe not. But they inspired us last year, so we decided to share them!
We lived out much of 2014 marching to the tune of certain mantras that kept us rolling even as we endured some major changes. Some of them we picked up from workout videos, some from a book by Sue Orman called The Money Book for the Young Fabulous and Broke, and others from Miley Cyrus. Regardless, we repeated these mantras ten times daily, three times a day, and even had t-shirts made, which we wore on weekends.
Ok, that’s not true either. But we often could be heard singing them loudly to the tune of some pop song, especially during an epic moment like the time we reduced our belongings to about 10 boxes that were shipped to New Mexico for storage or the time we when we peeled out of D.C. in a rental car and road tripped through the south as we made our way back home. Then there was the time we moved from the United States down to Nicaragua to join the Peace Corps, where we made significantly less money, couldn’t speak the language fluently, and had to wash our clothes by hand. Wow, why didn’t anyone tell us we were that crazy in 2014?
On a serious note, these mantras did what they were intended to do. They helped us reach our goals, they allowed us to see the bigger picture when we were hampered down by logistical challenges, and they reminded us that any challenge is surmountable. Repeating these phrases to ourselves did more for us than any half-hearted New Year’s resolution could; they helped us form healthy habits we intend to keep for a lifetime.
Because we found them so useful, we decided to share five of them with you on the first day of what promises to be an excellent year. We also included a list of mantras that we hope will help us do things better in 2015.
5 from 2014
Learn to part with things we don’t need. These were words of advice we forced ourselves to heed throughout the year, but especially when we were packing up our apartment in D.C. and moving back to New Mexico to spend the summer with family before heading overseas. Our goal was to become weightless, to keep the most valuable or meaningful items, and to shed the rest. As cliche as it sounds, less really is more.
Expect the unexpected. Being prepared has already been essential to our Peace Corps service . This means being prepared as much in terms of having all our ducks in a row when it comes to work as it does in terms of bracing ourselves mentally when things happen that challenge our cultural norms and anticipations.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you want to grow and learn new skills, you have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable, and for many people, ourselves included, that can be very uncomfortable. But to the best of our knowledge, it’s an excellent way to get better at whatever it is your trying to get better at. It’s also Michaela’s favorite saying from Jillian Michael’s workout video.
Save, save, save, and spend a little, too. Saving money became a huge thing for us. During our last year in D.C. we slashed some major amenities to get to the level of savings we wanted. But at the same time, we treated ourselves and knew when to spend our money to both enjoy ourselves and pursue our goals.
Know that you never stop growing up. For some reason, there is an odd belief that when you pass the age of 25 (and most definitely after you get married) you are done growing up. This is not true unless you want it to be. Sure, you should become more responsible as you get older, but you should never say you’re too old to take calculated risks and seek ways to improve yourself or situation.
5 for 2015
It’s the climb. Yup, this is where Miley Cyrus just hits it on the head. Always gonna be an uphill battle, Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose, Ain’t about how fast I get there, Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side, It’s the climb! Seldom, have truer words ever been spoken.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Two fellow Peace Corps Volunteers (the other married couple in our TEFL group) recently wrote a great post describing the all too common tendency we have to compare ourselves to others. It’s a great reminder that measuring yourself up to others is a fruitless and counterproductive endeavor.
Focus on your sphere of influence. One book we are looking forward to reading this year is “A Pathway Appears: Transforming Lives and Creating Opportunity” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. If you’re like us, phrases like making a difference or changing the world can seem daunting and overly idealistic. But the fact is real people do end up changing the world, and they do it by acting within their sphere of influence. We’re hoping this book sheds some light on how ordinary folks can put their best foot forward in this endeavor.
Show gratitude for people who support your harebrained ideas. Simply put, if our families didn’t encourage us and push us forward to the degree that they have (or send us nice care packages from time to time), service would be that much harder. Be sure to thank the people who believe in you.
Support other people’s harebrained ideas. Know that there are other people out there in the world who just like you are working towards something major, be it the pursuit of an advanced degree, the foundation of a small business, or the start of a new family. And just like you, they will face obstacles. Show them the same level of support and encouragement you’ve enjoyed.
Thanks for reading! Happy New Year!