It’s that time of year when there is talk about New Year’s Resolutions. The object is to take the new blank year and focus on some goals to make our lives better. I gave up making them years ago because they were not a motivating factor for me.
As I think about why that is, I have realized that typical New Year’s Resolutions are things like lose weight, keep a cleaner house, keep a clean car, exercise more and of course, join a gym. All these are sensible goals to improve one’s life. All of them are easier said than done. (Gym memberships soar in January but participation decreases each month after.) These are goals that are aspirational based on a person’s specific situation. If a doctor advises some change in behavior, it is wise to follow the doctor’s advice. Not because it is January, but because you have a health condition that requires attention.
Other New Year’s resolutions fall in the general category of doing something nice for someone. You might make a resolution to help out at a shelter, or become involved in animal rescue, or visit a shut-in once a month. Again, these are all good ideas, but they do not require the weight of a Resolution or the month of January.
The problem is that when we make New Year’s Resolutions and then fail to follow through for whatever reason, we tend to heap guilt on ourselves, and we still don’t make the changes. New Year’s Resolutions become a chore, not an opportunity.
The other problem is that many of these ideas mentioned are self-oriented. I need to lose weight in order to look like I did thirty years ago. I need to become a perfect housecleaner because that is expected of me. I need to join the gym so I can look fabulous and attract attention.
What if a New Year signaled an intention to look beyond self? What are some of the things you value? I can think of some: Nature’s beauty, joy, laughter, kindness, star-filled skies, love, contentment. What if we used the New Year as the beginning point to pay attention to where we find these things? What if we framed our New Year in gratitude for all those places where we have seen and continue to see nature’s beauty, joy, laughter, kindness, star-filled skies, love, contentment? It’s worth a try.