Every year around this time, we look back over the previous year, evaluate our successes and failures, and we resolve to improve ourselves. Around this time of year, if you don’t see NEW YEAR, NEW YOU somewhere, on a magazine cover, or as the headline of many articles, maybe you don’t know how to read.
But can we ever really hope to be different? Can people change? Or are we kidding ourselves and wasting all of this New Year’s motivation?
Can we really be different this year?
I want to say to myself and to you, “Of course we aren’t wasting our time.” Hoping to be better people is one of the things that makes us human. And if adding one to the number of the year makes us rethink things, get perspective, set goals, strive for more, then, God bless it!
But I do think there are pitfalls in resolving to be different. I have definitely fallen in before.
The Pitfalls of Resolving to Be Different
- Discounting our previous successes, and
- Setting ourselves up for failure.
So how can I avoid those?
The trouble with resolving to do things differently in the New Year is that it suggests that no matter how many great things we’ve done in the past year, it’s somehow not enough. WE are somehow not enough.
To send myself a healthier and kinder message, I am doing this:
List/Mindmap 2014 Wins
Find a way to take stock of 2014’s wins, and appreciate them. Write them down in your journal, and once they are there, re-read them. Then highlight them, maybe draw a mind-map about them. I am updating my list as I think of more wins. Then, when I feel it’s a nice long list, I can take a look at it. Breathe in some gratitude about all that. Remind myself that if I just did as many amazing things as I did last year, I’d have a great 2015.
Reframe the Tough Bits
But what if you look for those successes in 2014 and you have trouble finding them? Not all of us had our greatest year, and that’s OK. If that is you, then, fair enough. Remind yourself that you made it through 2014. When life is tough, muddling through is hard. And it is an accomplishment. So try to make an adjustment inside yourself and see if you can simply be grateful for that. Simply be grateful for being here. Great things can start from the place you are now.
Setting Yourself Up For Failure
I’m prone to these things that I’ll list. Maybe you are, too:
- Committing without examining the consequences or letting my very good instincts do their job.
- Just plain overcommitting. Trying to do too damn much, which leads me to another biggie.
- Setting unreasonable demands on myself. That leads to…
- Denial about all of the above. And that, eventually, leads me to…
- Seeking oblivion in shopping, eating, drinking, daydreaming, and awfulizing.
What is Awfulizing?
It’s a weird addictive process in which I start thinking about how other people and other groups of people do many bad things. I focus on all of that, and I can use it not to look at myself. In this way, I can avoid unpleasant truths about my own bad behavior. Or, if ‘bad’ sounds too, well, BAD to you, then I’ll just call it behavior that doesn’t get me where I want to be.
The thing about awfulizing is that it keeps my mind off me and my responsibility for creating the life I choose to live.
So How Can I Avoid All These Set-Ups for Failure?
I have a few ideas. Let’s see how these sound to you:
- Delay committing to anything until I can sit down and consider the consequences. A key tool in this quest goes something like this: “Hold on, I’ll have to check…with my husband…with my calendar…with my spiritual advisor…with my Tarot deck…with my Higher Self…with Obi-wan Kenobi’s ghost…with my cat.”
- Pick one thing as my primary principle. So for me that would be this: Remind myself that this is the Year of Writing for me. So yes, I want to lose weight. I want to run lightly, like Atalanta before she went after the Golden Apple. I love buying makeup. I love seeing theater, and I love traveling. I love lots of things. But this is the Year of Writing and Full Commitment to Writing. So all other commitments must be judged by this measure: How does this serve my Year of Writing? Will this interfere with my Year of Writing?
- Set fewer goals, no more than 3-5 major goals, for example:
- Write an average of 1000 words per day
- Finish Second Novel First Draft
- Get to 140 lbs and love reclaiming my skinny self wardrobe. Hipster black jeans, here I come!
- Gather more writer friends into my world. Let’s all become awesome and published and giving our full gifts to the universe!
- Clean out the Hoarders Blue Room (don’t ask).
As I resolve to be different, I’m going to keep those guidelines in mind.
I hope this was helpful. Personally, I feel good about all this. I’ll check in with you around the Spring Equinox and let you know how it’s going.
Thanks for coming to my site and reading this post!
Please let me know what you are thinking about in the comments below. Share your wisdom! Ask questions! Free associate!