As the New Year is underway, the subject of resolutions has come up a lot. Over the years I have grappled with my feelings about resolutions. Do I like them? Do I not? Do I care?
And then I’ve grappled with whether or not to have them and what that means. If I don’t have them, will I be perceived as “lazy” or “weird” or “no fun”? And if I do, am I just setting myself up for failure? It feels like a “no win” situation.
This year, I have finally decided that resolutions are not for me and that not having them doesn’t make me “weird” or “lazy” or “no fun.”
My resolutions used to consist of goals such as working out 5x/week, learning a new language, picking up an instrument, saving $x, training for a half marathon and other somewhat “standard” goals. One could argue that maybe those are not the best resolutions for someone who probably isn’t going to move to Japan, so why bother learning Japanese, and whose exercise of choice is definitely not running, but those were mine nonetheless.
So what would happen? I would start with great gusto and lots of pressure on myself and as the days and weeks and months wore on, I would get tired, find an excuse not to train, to practice or to save money and I would instead spend my time doing the things I actually enjoyed while feeling guilt, sadness or shame or some combination of the three.
On the one hand, I felt like a failure for not being able to keep up with my resolutions (as unrealistic as they were) and the other hand, I was spending my time doing the things that brought me happiness, growth and connection.
Could it be possible to have one without the other? Yes! For me it was to scrap the resolutions.
That’s not to say that I don’t have goals or things that I want to accomplish but I prefer to see it as a lifestyle. Rather than restricting myself to running or pushing myself to work out 5x/week, I want to be able to listen to my body. I want to feel good about working out or choosing not to. Rather than forcing myself to save a specific amount of money, I want to be fiscally responsible while not depriving myself of the things I love. I want to go to the movies and eat popcorn sometimes too! Rather than picking a new language to learn, I try to practice and master the ones I already have a base knowledge of. And rather than picking up a new instrument, I prefer to spend my time singing and dancing with my incredible toddler.
So instead of limiting myself by setting hefty goals at the beginning of the year, and then constantly worrying about failing to accomplish them, I’m giving myself the freedom and flexibility to live my life in a way that feels kind and authentic. I’m choosing to focus on the values underlying the resolutions: health, strength, kindness, responsibility, knowledge, self-awareness, family, connection, growth and presence, to name a few.
So… Sayonara to resolutions and cheers to a beautiful new year. A year full of potential to be whatever you choose to make it.
Wishing you a wonderful 2019.