It’s that time of year again. The clock rolled over into a new year and suddenly it’s all about changing our lives for the better, for real this time. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t yearn for the changing of years to bring renewal- either real or perceived. It feels good to “start over” even if it’s only imagined. During the last five weeks of holiday celebrating and comparative “down time” in my work schedule, I have experienced a shift of energy that has been both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing because I have been able to take a bit more time for myself to workout, eat better, sleep… All things I tend to ebb and flow throughout the busy months I spend working on my photography business and raising an energetic four year old, while attempting to maintain a semblance of connection in my almost seven year old marriage. And all things I have resolved many times over to do better at one time or another.

A curse because it forces me to face what I want renewal in this year. Which basically means I have to look at all the parts of my life that are not ideal, perfect or as I dreamed they’d be and decide where to start to change reality to be closer to my dreams.

If there’s anything I have learned it’s that the first step is accepting the fact that nothing in life is perfect, but that our manufactured expectations are really friggin’ good at making good things feel awful and amazing things feel just okay.

Discontentment runs rampant in our society. One of the absolute key things that has helped change my discontentment into joy is by controlling comparison.

Comparison fuels discontentment by bringing everything that we haven’t obtained into full definition with surround sound. It electrifies the “if only” notions we have. “If only I could have/do/be _____ (skinnier, healthier, richer, more successful or popular, etc like that person. …” Then I would be happy.

Social media has become the source of these notions, served up hot and fresh on a daily basis every time we log in. Now we are kept knee deep in visions of every single high point in the lives of whomever we allow into our feeds. All the while we are stuck behind our cell phones in the mundane behind the scenes moments of our own lives. It can feel almost suffocating at times.

Wait… What?!  How did we get here?

A little over two years ago, I began the process of what I would call a “Facebook cleanse” where I diligently and without prejudice removed over 3000 people and pages from my newsfeed. You can read about my how and why here.

During that process, I felt the burden of “enough” lifting. I was becoming blissfully unaware of what others were putting out for me to compare to. I felt myself no longer trying to keep up with the joneses or the smiths or any other family down the way. I was learning to live my own highlights and behind the scenes without comparison.

Glorious freedom! I have never gone back to having a newsfeed and my initial fears of feeling disconnected or like I was missing something have diminished completely. Quite the opposite actually, as I am more connected to the people who I really care about and want to live out life with.

The pressure of choosing a focus for 2015 has been interesting. By controlling whose feeds I see online, I have lost the sense that I’m not measuring up. I don’t feel pressure to be as anything as anyone else and compare only to where I was and where I wish to be, for myself.

Powerful stuff.

All of that being said, I challenge you to find where you feel your sense of “enough” being challenged and redefine where you seek validation in your own life. If you are finding yourself choosing resolutions based on comparison, I urge you to seek intrinsic motivation for your goals. The only way to actually get from where you are to where you resolve to be is through a plan and hard work. Don’t let your goals be undermined by comparison.

Make 2015 the year you make lasting changes through accepting responsibility for what you allow into your head and heart and for the amount of control you give things once they are there. We cannot move forward while giving comparison – the ultimate thief of our joy – the upper hand.

So, you ask.. What am I going to focus on in 2015? I have two.

Number one being “no excuses.” Life’s too short to pretend we are victims of circumstance or that we aren’t worthy or capable of what we want in life. No more excuses.

But my big one, the theme on which I want 2015 to rest on – is Joy. Joy to me is evidence of gratitude. I want the world to recognize it in me and to know that joy is something they can decide on too. I want my family, especially my daughter, to have memories of me that revolve around how grateful I was for every blessing in life– and I never want her to see herself as not enough, because of pressure stemming from ways our culture functions through comparison.

Can you recall a time you were robbed of joy because of comparison? How will recognizing this change how you move toward more joy in 2015? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!