I don’t care for New Year’s resolutions. I like the idea of making a decision and acting on it, but New Year’s resolutions seem forced to me. I hear a lot of “things are going to be different” and “it’s a whole new me!” But that’s the thing: it’s not, you are still you, it’s just a new day. There is nothing magical about the switching of the calendar, the changing of the months, the years. We are all still us. If I want to make a shift, it isn’t the date that needs to change, it is me. The date might feel like a fresh start or a motivating factor, but at the end of the day, I am left with the same elements that I had at the beginning of the day. So what am I willing to shift?
Making a change… a real, significant change… requires honesty. It isn’t just a matter of will power or “white knuckle-ing” through a situation. That may get someone through the first hurdle or two, but it won’t carry them the full distance. In order to go the full distance, you have to be brave… truly brave. You have to be brave enough to own your shit. Why am I doing this thing? Okay, that’s my first answer, now why I am REALLY doing it? Spoiler alert: your first answer isn’t the full answer. Your first answer is the guarded answer. Why do I eat Pringles? Because I am hungry. True, but not complete. Why do I eat Pringles? Because they are tasty. Also true, but not complete. Why do I eat Pringles? Because I am hungry, because they are tasty, because I am lazy. Yes, all true, but there is more. Why do I eat Pringles? Because I am hungry, because they are tasty, because I am lazy… and sometimes I eat them to make myself feel better. There you go! Now we are getting somewhere! None of my answers were false. But some of my answers were incomplete.
So what to do? Darn it. I guess I could be more mindful of when I eat Pringles. Yeah. What else? Let’s think, what did I just talk about? I talked about my feelings. Maybe I could be more mindful of my feelings. Okay, now we are getting someplace. Hmm, maybe it isn’t just Pringles. Maybe Pringles are my current thing, but sometimes I do this with chocolate. Hmm, maybe. Okay, so it isn’t the food it’s the feelings. So if my New Year’s resolution was to give up Pringles, would that really address whatever I wanted to change? Or should it be something else… like to be mindful of my feelings? And what if I figured this out in October? Should I try to power through the holidays and hold off on my sense of peace and balance until the calendar turns?
Here is the thing: the calendar is always turning. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years… they are always moving forward. The real question is: in what way do you wish to move forward? And what is your marker for when it is time to move forward?
There are, at the same time, two truths to be held: 1) don’t move before you are ready – change simply won’t work and 2) every moment you aren’t actively and consciously writing your own story is a moment that your story is being written by unconscious forces. “Actively” and “consciously” are key words here. Any one of us can make a change. But do we really know what we are doing, why we are doing it, and can we sustain it? Do we even want to sustain it? Unless we are active and conscious authors of our story, someone or something else is holding the pen… someone else is determining our truth. The first step to taking control of our own lives and stepping into our own power is owning our own shit.
So I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I make Throughout The Year resolutions. To borrow a phrase: When I see something, I say something. It’s an internal process, and it is usually accompanied by “dammit,” but in the end it helps. Now mind you, I am still a MAJOR work in progress. I’m constantly talking to myself… and I am constantly slipping up. But that is part of it – Progress, not Perfection. Forgiveness, of self and others. Holding yourself accountable doesn’t mean that you have to be critical of yourself – not critical in a bad way. You can lovingly say: “well, I messed that up, let’s clean this up and try again.” The opposite is true too. Praising yourself doesn’t mean you have to be egomaniacal. You can say: “I’m really frickin’ good at this! It doesn’t make me better than anyone else in this world, but wow, I kick ass at this!!!”
Actively and consciously. Or, put another way, “What Else?” When I am doing something, feeling something, saying something, what else is present? When I feel particularly charged up about something, or particularly disconnected from something, what else is present? And when I want to make a change, what else is there behind this change? Is there more to the story? Is this the change I want to make, or is this a symptom pointing to the real change that is necessary? Or both? And what might be stopping me from making the transformative, sustaining change? What other parts of my own self can I bring to my friends, my family, this world to enrich all of our experiences? And what else do I need to start? What else?
Happy New Year everyone. And Happy Every Day.