Resolutions: Guides, not Goals

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It’s December 31st. Not the time for new year’s resolutions; no, it’s the time when many of us mock new year’s resolutions. I  get it. Resolutions are often overly ambitious, unrealistic, too numerous, repeated (unsuccessfully) year in and year out. I’ve rarely reached a point where I could say with utter conviction, yes, I accomplished [insert lofty, overly-general goal here].

But if I look back at my resolutions in recent years, haven’t they helped me get to where I am now? Haven’t I benefited from them, even if they served as loose guides through my path in life, rather than as end goals that can be checked off a list for completion?

In 2013 I took on a new, challenging job with intimidating responsibilities and better pay/benefits in a different town. I have more money in savings now than I did this time last year, though it could be more, and a budgeting system that works, though it could be refined. I moved into a new place I like and continue to enjoy decorating and organizing. I started using natural cleaning products from time to time even though I don’t have it down to a science (or an art) yet. I improved my professional wardrobe, even if there are still gaps. I went to all the recommended doctor and vet appointments, paid all my bills on time, sent gifts to my friend in time for her baby shower, called family members on their birthdays. I created a notebook for all my important paperwork and condensed my photographs into a few small organized boxes and donated a ton of stuff and sold some other stuff. I tried out some different ways of thinking, tested some new strategies for managing my emotions (sometimes successful, sometimes not), read some books, planned a fun trip out of town. Just this week I’ve cooked at least three things I’d never made before; yesterday it was a healthy Moroccan lentil soup.

I don’t know, I guess my point is that, I’m doing okay, you know? My life is not nearly as picture perfect as I would like, but generally–and I’ll only say this once–I do, at some basic level, have my shit together.  Like, I have probably developed good habits I’m not even aware of that enable me to be a functioning member of society. And if, say, my college self saw me now, perhaps she would realize I’ve grown and developed new strengths and skills I don’t even notice now, as a result of my day in and day out efforts at being a better adult. Many of which are reflected in these silly annual resolutions.

I have many, many goals, large and small for 2014: spend less time online, read more books, spend money less impulsively, sleep and rise earlier,  go to yoga and the gym, travel, listen to new music, volunteer, meet new people, cultivate more inner confidence, etc., etc.  I’ve been trying to decide if I want to do monthly challenges, or create a list of concrete “action-items,” or how else to approach these resolutions. Maybe I still will do something along those lines. But right now I want to try to get at the essence of all of them. I think my resolutions, this year, are about spending more time doing my own life and creating an environment that inspires me organically. Less time leaning on my crutches. Less time seeking external inspiration from the endless sources “out there” (cough, internet). There’s more to it than that, but I guess I’ll stop there.  I’ve hit some kind of groove and I’m ready go get up and do.

P.S. – Here’s an excerpt from another post I really enjoyed about New Year’s that kind of goes along with my thinking; read the whole thing at Ben Pentreath’s blog.

I think that all of this might, just might, be my resolution for 2014: To remember that a voice is more real than an email, a drink together is more real than a text message, and that reading a book is more real than endlessly surfing the net (I am an endless surfer of the net). (You might also say that a visit to Rugby Street is more real than a trip to Amazon.com).

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