Let’s face it, 2017 was a tough year. It is understandable to want to rush out of the dying embers of 2017 into the bright light of a new year with refreshed ambitions and hopes. Even the movie the Last Jedi, in all it’s darkness, ends with a message of hope.
Enter in the traditional of New Year’s resolution. Statements of resolve in which we dedicate ourselves to new (or recycled) personnel goals and objectives. I am finally going to lose weight…I will quit smoking…. I am going to volunteer at that charity I really like … I am going to eat healthy and run 3 miles everyday.
The New Year brings with it a desire to become our best selves, or at least what we think is the best version of ourselves. In my enthusiasm to be done with the old and in with the new, I can forget that change, especially behavior change, is really hard. Not only does it take a lot of effort, the path is often not a straight line, results can take years, sometimes decades. I set ambitions and sometimes-unrealistic goals and try to muscle my way through on my own, without asking or accepting help. The journey of self-improvement through behavior change can get derailed and expectations and results allude me.
I fail to realize that it is the journey not the destination that matters.
This is a lesson that has not been learned once or twice, but something I continually re-learn. For me, it is never about the journey. I want to get the journey over as soon as possible and arrive. Seriously, if I could have one super-power it would be teleportation, through time and space, like Dr. Who. I find no joy in road trips and even less in international travel. But when it comes to New Years resolutions, and any declaration of self-improvement and change, I have learned that my expectations do not assist me in achieving my goals, they actually work against me.
So I don’t really do resolutions. I set about three goals (this year it is four). All of which are very attainable. And if I don’t achieve them, it is really no big deal. For years learning to scuba dive was on the list. I still don’t know how to scuba dive. One year it was sailing. So I did some sailing then decided it wasn’t really for me. Goals that are attached to my self-esteem or self-image are recipes for pain and self-loathing. I don’t need to practice a tradition that increased my self-doubt and lowers my self-esteem. I don’t need any help in that area of my life at all. What I do need is reminders to take care of myself. Reminders that I am enough as I am.
It is my hope that the traditional of resolutions move toward promoting acceptance for ourselves and others; to declarations of compassion and tolerance. And that self-improvement means facing our fears with compassion and kindness.
If this January you are dedicated to resolutions and commitments to self-improvement, bravo, I support you 110%. Just remember to own your life, the good and the bad. It is all yours to make what you want.
Live it. Claim it. Own it.