I am not an iPhone and other reasons New Year's Resolutions are making us sad
January 4, 2017
I am not an iPhone.
I do not come with forced software updates every four to six months (or year). While I thought this was fairly obvious, the Universe seems to struggle with the basic concept of my human-ness every January. The dawning of a new year is marked by little red notification dots incessantly popping into my life, despite my metaphorical pressing of the "ignore" or "update later" buttons. Those tiny red dots just keep appearing. They float in my late-night bowl of ice cream, hover over my head at the bar, bounce along like a buoy as I jog. It's like I've been cast as an extra in an episode of Black Mirror where we've all be implanted with a "New Year, New You" chip feeding us peppy affirmations and demoralizing weight loss goals.
So while January can be a really exciting time of year, it can also become a really tough time of year for some. All the outside pressure to set resolutions and move towards self-betterment can be daunting. Wait. Confused. Aren't I the girl who regularly blogs about self-loveand personal growth? Let me clarify: there's nothing wrong with finding an opportunity for positive change — yes, go, do that thing. I, of all people, would never suggest a person turn down a chance to go after something that makes them feel good.
But what if I like theold me?
Or what if I'm already changing? What if this month is stressful for me and I'm just trying to get through? Why can't I always be resolving to be better, stronger, more loving person? Does it have to start now?
That's my problem with whole New Year, New You thing. It's not really the resolutions themselves but the atmosphere in which they are set. Between the ad campaigns focused on shaping those resolutions to the ones focused on destroying them, one thing that's clear is you better have some. New Year's Resolutions feel like a mandate; they're a custom field with an (*) asterix added to any conversation between December 28 - January 17 (that's the day it becomes socially acceptable to admit the inevitable: that Shakira's abs are not a necessity and calling each of your seven cousins every Sunday isn't possible or fun).
We're only four days into the month and I can already feel the discouragement creeping into people's New Year's Resolution talk; I know some folks feeling overwhelmed before even finishing their lists. Setting a goal because someone else says you should is not acting in your own self-interest. Setting a goal with the assumption you're going to fail in three weeks? Even worse.
So have I ditched New Year's "Resolutions" all together? Well, not really...
I sat down on Sunday evening and spent some time revisiting my goals. I tweaked a few to fit my current situation and capabilities and I also moved a few to the back burner. Sometimes prioritizing the things you're working towards is the hardest part, especially for an anxious multitasker like me. I recently saw a Tweet(accepts eye roll) about writing down a bunch of New Year's Resolutions, tossing them in a jar, sealing it and not looking until the next year. The goals that were achieved without the list were clearly more important to the author. At the end of the day, most of us don't need January 1 to know what we want.
My goals for "2017 and beyond," as I wrote it, include broad reminders such as "choose for you" and "grow with intention." These are both things I've been focusing on for the last six months without neatly writing down on a list. I included a few specific goals centered around learning and listening such as searching for seminars to better my professional career and asking more questions about others. Again, these are things I was already doing or hoping for but enjoyed writing down as a reminder. I've dubbed 2017 the year of "bloom" because while it is important for plants and flowers to grow, there are other actions they can take during their life cycle. This theme was set with the intention of creating space: space to enjoy moments, space without a constant pressure to improve or change, space to be flexible.
These things felt good to me. They also felt like things I wanted to do andnot forced to do by way of a little red dot.
Happy 2017. Make the changes you want when you are ready.
Questions? Loves? Goals you'd like to share? Go for it!