Some years, I make New Years resolutions; some years I don’t. There isn’t much rhyme or reason to it. If I feel so inspired, I do. If I am not inspired I don’t.
This year, I’m leaning away from resolutions but not because I am not inspired. I am about as inspired as I’ve ever been about creating the life I want and need and resolutions are one way that people set their intentions to move closer to that life.
Steadily, throughout this year, I have thought about what matters to me, about what will add to the quality of my life, about how I might successfully turn my intentions into reality. And I’ve begun to move along the paths that appear to be the ones that will take me where I hope to go.
What I know, but still have to learn and over and over again, is that I am not somebody who clears a path, the shortest distance from point A to point B, and travels along it. My paths begin at point A and are designed to end at point B, but they are circuitous and un-groomed and often difficult to see any further than a step or two in front of me.
The reality is that every year, I want the same things: love, health, success, joy. That may show up in a resolution to more consistently reach out to the people I care about and to change my diet and to finish whatever writing project currently is in progress and to find a way to regularly help people in need. It may show up in other ways, too. To have more intimate dinner parties, to build a meditation practice, to find freelance work, and to check some items off my bucket list. Or some other variation of the basic four wants.
The reason I’m leaning away from resolutions this year is that when I make a big deal of setting a resolution, instead of pushing me toward my goal, it often pushes me away from it. The pressure of trying to follow the path and get to the end intimidates me, which leads me to avoid doing what I have to do to move in the right direction. I usually start off with great speed but as soon as I face a roadblock, I begin to let my resolve go to pot. I talk myself out of the goal or the process of getting to the end or the value of pushing through the difficult stuff to get to the other side. I’m not proud of how easy it is for me to fall off the wagon, but as soon as I try to ignore the reality of what has happened year after year, I set myself up, once again for failure.
What does it mean for me to lean away from the resolutions this year? It doesn’t mean that I am not in favor of getting closer to my four wants nor does it mean that I will not intentionally move toward the things that I believe will help me get more love, health, success and joy in my life. What it means is that I need to find a better way to move from point A to point B.
The grand pronouncements on January first have never brought about lasting change for me. Yet, in my daily life, I often am able to do the things I need to do to take me further along those paths that incorporate more of the four wants in my life.
So this year, my only New Year’s resolution is to start each day with a few minutes alone where I think about what I am able to do that day to move me along my paths. It means looking at where I am on the journey, where I ultimately want to be, and what it will take to take a step or two forward.
I don’t have to see the whole path to achieve this, which is good, since my paths have proven not to be easily followed.
I don’t have to berate myself for avoiding the small tasks because the goal seems so overwhelming.
I don’t have to see RESULTS quickly, just forward motion.
Why do I think this will work better for me than the grand resolutions? Each day brings different possibilities and challenges depending on my responsibilities and the weather and a variety of factors. If I can mold my movements to the little bit of road in my short view, while keeping in mind the long view, I have a shot at making real progress over time.
We can envision our futures, we can believe in our abilities to live the lives we envision, but we cannot jump ahead of ourselves without losing out on the unknown twists and turns in the road, which teach us the lessons we need to learn on our journeys. We can only see as far as we can see.
And, for me, my working vision, the part that frames the day’s journey, is only as far as the day is long.
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