I refuse to make a New Year’s resolution this year. Well, I’ve never been a big believer in them anyway, so I very seldom have made them. I remember one year I resolved to go to the gym and I did… for about 6 weeks. Many years I resolved to write more, but I never really did. For me, and for the vast majority of people, New Year’s resolutions are hollow. They are nothing. Or maybe they’re worse than nothing. Maybe they’re one more reason for us to feel badly about ourselves.
So, I will not participate this year. And I won’t feel guilty or weak about it either. I actually feel really good about it.
Instead I will begin a tradition I call my Anti-New Year’s Resolutions. And there are basically just 3 parts to this wonderful “tradition”:
- Instead of making a resolution, take the time to look back and celebrate all the good from the past year and close the book on all the bad.
- Take the time to look forward and open myself up to all the millions of possibilities for goodness to come into my life.
- Vow that if I find I need to change something throughout the year, if I discover my life would be better by making a resolution, then I will resolve to make the change right then and there. I will not wait for the New Year.
See, I think it’s so much more beneficial to celebrate all the things that went right in the past year. And sure, plenty of shit happened too. And this can be reflected upon and given honor. Grief and heartbreak are every bit as legitimate as joy. In some respects, the bad is even more holy. It shows how strong we’ve been. It shows how tough we really are.
But I hate the idea of sifting through all my “faults” and deciding which one if the biggest and needs to be changed. It seems like the most popular ones are stuff like, I am too fat so I need to diet. I need to cut down on drinking. I need to stop spending so much money. I need to spend less time on social media/watching TV/plugged into my laptop or phone/ sleeping and I need to spend more time outside. I resolve to diet. I resolve to drink less. I resolve to exercise more. I resolve to start running. I resolve to spend more time with family. I resolve to stop worrying so much.
If it were really just that simple to change and become a better version of ourselves!
Every New Year’s Eve it seems like the whole world feels this excitement in the hours leading up to flipping the calendar from one year to the next. There is so much build-up. And then the countdown from 10 all the way to “Happy New Year!” happens and everyone shouts and whoops and kisses and yells and smiles. And then about 2 minutes and 14 seconds later, everything falls silent and everyone stands around looking at each other and feeling like they were just swindled out of something valuable but not being able to quite put a finger on what was stolen. And that awkward moment lasts for about 17 seconds and then everyone goes back to doing what they did the previous year – what they’ve always done.
I have a hunch that the feeling of being conned is directly linked to the promise that the New Year will bring a new way of looking at things, a new way of feeling, and a new way of handling things.
But here’s a news flash: On January 1st, nobody has ever felt any differently or thought differently or approached anything differently than they did on December 31st. Sure, we are all sold on the idea that New Year’s resolutions are awesome. Maybe it gives us some hope to make it through those first few shitty weeks after the holidays are over and we’re staring at the another entire year hoping it’s better than the last but having no idea if it will be.
So, we cling to these resolutions that are born out of us feeling like we are inadequate in someway, and we play the game of change as long as we can and then we stop and wind-up feeling even more inadequate because now we feel like even more of a failure.
But here’s another news flash: You are NOT inadequate. You are perfect just the way you are. Believe that.
Sure you might want to lose weight or drink less, you might even need to do these things, but that doesn’t make you any less perfect. And losing weight or exercising more or stopping smoking or whatever, very well might be a great idea but doing so will not make you any more perfect. It will make you feel better. It will make you healthier and will probably allow you to live longer. But it will not change who you are.
Because here’s the thing: We are all perfect just the way we are. It’s true. But it takes digging deep and finding out who we truly are. And most people don’t even know it. So, we try to change this little thing or that little thing and usually we fail, but even if we have some success we realize we still pretty much feel the same so why keep up the change? Why? We resolved to change to make us happy. So what’s the point?
Change has to come from within. It has to start deep on our heart and souls and then grow outward from there. It has to . So, yes resolve to be healthier physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, whatever. But understand the change has to begin on the inside. And that change should ever have to wait until the end of the year. Why procrastinate?
And guess what? All those bad habits that we resolve to change… they’re a result of something going on inside of us. They are mufflers quieting the screams of our inner voices. So, often times stopping smoking or dieting or whatever is simply treating a symptom of something that is wrong inside of us. It’s not healing what is wrong. The healing has to happen deep inside ourselves.
I made what I consider to be pretty big life changes throughout the past year. In the spring I started working out several times a week. Then in the summer I resolved to start looking at myself on the inside. In the fall, I really stepped it up a notch. I resolved to heal myself, not just stop myself from hurting so much.
And I’m still in the middle of looking deep inside myself and trying to untangle all the ropes and wires that have become knotted throughout the last 4 decades of my life. It’s a long process. But I’m doing it. I’ll continue to do it. I didn’t wait until the end of the year. I did it when it had to be done.
And as I look back on the past year, I see so much heartache. Some of the shit makes me want to scream. But it’s in the past now. It’s almost so far in the past that I can tell people it “happened last year”. So, I can close the book on it now. Mostly.
I will also take a look at all the good things that happened this past year. That’s harder to do. Upon first glance, most of the good things are linked to heartache. They hurt me to think about: Sleeping beside Wildflower. Going to concerts with her. As I sit here on New Year’s Eve, all our stories have the ending of us not even talking anymore.
But I have faith that someday I will be able to look on our time together and smile. And even if that never happens, it doesn’t change how happy those moments actually made me. They lit-up my life. Wildflower gave me light and warmth at a time when my world was so cold and dark. Nothing will ever change that. Including how it makes me hurt to think about it now. In the end, all of those beautiful moments should not be judged by who we became. They should only be judged by what they were when they were happening. It’s a challenge to do that. But I believe I’ll get there. Eventually.
But I know that as I journal later, I will think of more things to be grateful for. Things like: My kids are healthy. My 16-year-old is in a better place now then he was a year ago. I am a much better parent. I’m also a stronger person on a path of strength that will lead to me being who I have always been meant to be. These are just a few. I know there are much more. And I will uncover them.
Finally, I’ll take some time and think about who I want to be this coming year. I’ll dream about things I’d love to see happen in my life. And I’ll cultivate an excitement about all the new things that will come into my life. Yes, this next year will bring more heartbreak into my life – that’s life. But it will also bring joy and new experiences and people – that’s life too!
The New Year will be another year in my life. It will be another chapter in the story of each of our lives!
So, bring it on!
Happy New Year!