How’s your New Year’s Resolution doing? According to this, at least 25 percent of you have ditched your resolve and settled back into the pattern you were trying to avoid.
Featured Image by: Barry Silver // CC 2.0
That statistic is the precise reason I’ve avoided setting resolutions my entire life. But this year has been different. In early December, I had one of those days where everything came crashing down super hard. My go-to response to days like that? Text-freaking out at my friends and alcohol.
But this time, I decided to do something slightly different. While I still had a few beers and tears with friends after work, I made the decision to spend the rest of 2015 really watching what adds value to my life and what doesn’t. I decided to get really serious about what I needed to do to make sure that I’m not sitting in the same place a year from now.
What did that serious watching look like? It was vigilant and honest. I sat with myself in meditation every morning and watched the blame, shame and excuses surface, and like a kind, passive listener, I made space. This is hard, terrifying work, but it’s the work of champions. Then I wrote about it in a journal I will never show anyone ever. Never ever.
Choose a Theme
After all this research I had my answer. But it didn’t lead to what I like to call a “fad resolution” (Drink less! Work out more! Lose weight! Make more art! Stop falling for jerks! Do things you love! Don’t put your worth in others’ opinions!). Rather, it led to a very clear, very resonant theme for 2016: connection.
I wanted to forge a stronger connection with myself so that I could share that connection with others. I know that if I don’t tether myself to my own roots, I’ll just flap about from opinion to opinion, letting great marketing dictate the rest of my life.
Make a Game Plan
One can’t just come up with a theme and then walk away. It’s not that easy, unfortunately. We have to plan, organize and be realistic but ambition in the goals we set. So, I bought this planner and each month, I will give myself a challenge to complete. Each challenge has to tie back to connection. First to myself and then to others.
Ironically enough, I have chosen to stop drinking in this first month of the year. I realized that alcohol is one of the first things I reach for when I want to disconnect from myself and others. I use it to withdraw, to numb and to escape. And, what’s worse, I can’t have just one and I’m not proud of the choices I make when I’ve had more than three. So, logical next step: stop drinking and sit with that desire to escape — feel it out and work through it without substances.
Go Easy on Yourself
I’m a recovering perfectionist. It’s really bad. If I tell myself that I’m going to do something and I don’t, or it doesn’t turn out the way I expected — I get very upset. I’ve learned how to hang in that state and breathe, reminding myself that I’m human.
All this challenge-setting is going to mess with that perfectionism. But I know that I’ll probably screw up one at least once (ha) and I’ll have to deal with it. But here’s the thing: Just because I failed doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It means that I need to regroup and try again. As long as we’re alive we have second chances. They might not always show up the way we want them to, but they’re there.
It’s Never Too Late
It might be after January 1, but time is essentially arbitrary and those numbers on the calendar shouldn’t hold you back. Take a month from now to sit, write and listen. Then decide on your theme and make a game plan. But always, always, always go easy on yourself.