When I was given the opportunity to write this blog, I thought to myself, “great, another blog by another adult with autism.” With so many fabulous blogs out there by autistics, why would anyone read mine? What would make this blog different? What would make people want to read my posts and, moreover, what would keep me writing them? I decided I would follow my inner author and wait for the writing gods to send me a muse. And man, did the idea come.
One of the things I have worked on intently since my diagnosis five years ago is living an active, positive life. I do many little things throughout the day and week to actively participate in my life and do a few bigger things throughout the year to keep me on track. However, I have rarely had the opportunity to write or speak about this very vital part of my mental health routine. That, however, is all about to change.
This blog is the perfect vehicle to share my tips and tricks for living an active, positive life on the autism spectrum.
I figured we could start simply. There is one thing I have done every year like clockwork for the last 3 years running. On New Year’s Eve, I make a resolution. Wait! I know it doesn’t seem very innovative. And yes, I know nobody sticks to their resolutions. But hear me out first. I never do anything traditional so why would this be any different? In that vein, I present to you my guide to the non-traditional resolution or as I like to call it, my promise to myself for the year.
A promise to yourself? That is my big reveal…a promise? Yes, a promise. The word promise holds a little weight. Most of us do not toss that word around lightly. Nothing feels better than a promise kept and nothing feels worse than one broken. With this in mind, I ask you to start thinking about what goals you have in mind for this year or maybe a challenge you would like to tackle, perhaps a life change you have been considering. Something you want to concentrate on this year. Now, while you might have one thing in mind, life is life and more stuff than that one thing will get tossed at you in the next year. As you start to narrow down your objective, remember life will happen.
In other words, you need your promise to be a filter through which all of your decisions and actions for the year will travel.
Ready for an example? I thought so. My very first year doing this, I decided not to do a resolution on New Year’s Eve. I was tired of not keeping them and tired of hearing other people complain about not keeping theirs. I decided it would be a whole lot easier to stay mindful and present while sticking to a greater overall goal for the year.
There is nothing I dislike more than a broken promise, except maybe wet jeans, bright light, and the sound of mastication, so I figured calling it a promise would keep me true and on my path. I knew I had been struggling with some harder emotional stuff that past year. Emotions and I do not get along. I do not process them well and they do not like to stick around long enough for me to get better at it. What to do? You guessed it; a New Year’s Promise to Myself.
It was January of 2015, in the wake of my mother’s death, and I decided my theme for the year would be forgiveness. With my promise that I would actively practice forgiveness made, I set off into 2015 to tackle some of my demons. One after the other, a challenge would be deposited in front of me by life. Each time I would filter it through the concept of forgiveness and make an active choice to tackle it. If life said here are lemons, I would forgive myself for not knowing how to make lemonade and go actively seek the directions and missing ingredients. Each time, I would have a better batch of lemonade. As 2015 came to a close, I noticed that as I stuck to my promise, it was easier to stay focused on my goals and complete my tasks.
I had faced some of the hardest challenges of my life in 2015, and yet in return for keeping my promise, life kept handing me a giant thumbs up.
Feeling empowered by my success, I decided to try again in 2016 and my promise was daunting. I had chosen the theme of fear and promised myself to face it. All year long, I faced my fears, challenged myself, took risks, anything that meant doing something I found scary. And all year long, those things ended up not being quite so scary when you just tackled them. Each time fear or insecurity reared their ugly heads, I met them at the door and actively chose to meet the challenges. The pay-offs were huge. Doing and being and living felt great. Knowing I had choices and could make changes in my life that I controlled, felt amazing. Life would hand me lemons and now I had like 20 different recipes for lemonade. It was getting to be almost an afterthought to be mindful and present and stay on theme. My promises were working.
2017 bodes to be another year of challenges. I just started my own business. I will be traveling to speak, writing two blogs, co-hosting a podcast, teaching improv, and continuing to be a one-on-one life coach. With January in my back pocket, I can share that my theme for 2017 is focus. I promised myself I would stay focused on my goals in the long term and in the short term to focus on the here and now, the task at hand. I am hoping that will allow me a little time to remember to enjoy my successes. This concept is key in keeping me motivated and to check in with my own happy. I don’t want to be so busy pursuing a happy life, that I forget to live one.
What will your promise be? It’s not too late for 2017. You can start a year whenever you wish. On a birthday or anniversary. On any holiday. Do it for April. Make a promise to yourself as your self-care task for April. For one month stay true to your promise and theme. Actively choose a challenge or goal. Pursue it with your promise in mind. Stay true to you and live positively autistic.
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