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My 30th Birthday, A Clean Slate, and Striving for Perfection


I’ve always been a sucker for the first day of school and January 1st.  A clean slate. A fresh start.

But is my adoration and reliance on new beginnings actually useful?

The hook of the fresh start is obvious. They make me feel powerful, like no matter what I did yesterday, tomorrow holds possibility for redemption, for finally being the “me” I know I can be.  Like somehow I haven’t been awesome enough or accomplished enough or kept on track enough in the last while, but now’s my chance because it’s a new month!  A new year!  A new business or house or adventure!

I find myself thinking “This time I’ll really commit. This time I’ll do it!”

But here’s the thing.

1.  Usually, I’m holding myself to unreasonable expectations or striving to check off too many changes at once.

So when I fail to meditate one day or wear jeans and sneakers for the 4th day in a row or don’t reply to email within 24 hours, I feel like a failure. 

2.  Usually, I’m relying on sheer willpower to make things happen.

If I just set great, supercharged goals and make myself do them, I’m all set!  That’s all I have to do!  That’s what runs through my head at the start of those clean slates: I’ll just make myself do it!  But what happens when I’m tired, or unmotivated, or restless?  What happens when my best effort on a single day isn’t that amazing, earth-shattering, or life-changing?  What happens when I simply can’t make myself do it one day?  I ruin my “good streak” and feel like I’m back at square one.

3. Usually, I’m trying to become some turbo-charged superwoman.

I’ve always tried to do my best, but something about a fresh start, however arbitrary, makes me want to be bigger, better, more remarkable.  More “perfect” perhaps. I slip into the mode of thinking I’m not good enough, that there is room for improvement in who I am and what I do.  It’s a self-defeating pattern because striving for perfection is harmful, not helpful.  There is no such thing as perfection!   I forget about all the wonderful things I already am and do, and concentrate on what I’m “lacking.”

So, what’s a motivated, personal-growth fan to do when the allure of new beginnings is taken away?  When I realize that my entire life is a clean slate?

Well, I’ll tell you!

Cause I’m cutting myself off from the lure of a fresh start.

Life is NOW.  I am NOW.

Each moment is a chance to be present.

Each moment offers us a choice about how we’re reacting to the stories in our head, whether we’re going to drink that third glass of wine, if we have the time to help the older couple carry their luggage upstairs. Each time we conquer a self-limiting belief or take a step outside our comfort zone, we’ve celebrated a fresh start!

By tuning into the moment-to-moment of our own life, we find chances for new beginnings in every decision we make.


There are opportunities for grace and growth in each day.

It’s powerful to have long term goals, but appreciating the small joys and tears in the day-to-day is equally important. Whether it’s an action-packed, moving forward day or a low-key, reconnecting with myself day or a let’s play pretend and wear costumes to brunch day, or even a mournful, angry day full of old yearbook gazing– each of those is part of our experience.

What will we learn from those small moments?  How will they change our reality?

I am already enough.

Life is not measured in external validation.  The most amazing gift we can give to ourselves and others, is to realize that our life and our contribution is unique. There’s always room to shine brighter or develop healthier habits or reach more people, but that at our core, we are enough. Holding to that belief and living a life of integrity is infinitely more fulfilling than checking off boxes.

As many of you heard, it was my 30th Birthday last Wednesday.  That’s a pretty big fresh start for this ex-clean-slate-junkie.

So what did I commit to for my new decade?

Being more Me.

That is all.

And that is everything.




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