I have always loved New Year’s. I remember my father grumbling once about this “pagan, arbitrary celebration” and interjecting my appreciation for celebration of an end of one thing and a beginning of another, for a sense of accomplishment and promise. Sometimes the accomplishment is just surviving; sometimes the promise is that the next year won’t be quite as miserable. Be that as it may, I like the ritual.
I am, however, a New Year’s Resolution agnostic. Oh, I’ve made them. I’ve been that person at your gym. I lasted ’til April or so, then fell off the wagon, then tried again in August. I love the idea of setting an intention, of making promises to myself–but I am in the skeptical camp on account of my own failure at the gym. Change–real change–takes a fair amount of studied analysis of what’s working and what’s not working, what motivations are competing, and so forth. I wish to lose weight, save money, and simplify my schedule; but those goals, thus articulated, are not that useful. I could make them smarter–and I will–but that’s not what I’d like New Year’s to be about.
I was spending time with a cluster of sweet girl friends today, and one of them brought up this other way of thinking about New Year’s resolutions, wherein one considers the whole of her life and chooses a theme word or phrase. While the social worker in me wants my goals to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound, the poet in me–arguably the dominant voice, let’s be honest–loves the notion of the theme that permeates everything, the guiding metaphor. So that is what I’m going to do.
When I start thinking about my obstacles to change for losing weight, saving money, or simplifying my schedule, I notice that I breathe a little faster, raise my shoulders to my ears, and feel almost claustrophobic. I immediately start thinking about the next thing on my list, how I don’t have enough time to do everything that I want to do. I eat unmindfully because my head is crammed with deadlines; I spend money for convenience for the same reason. I rarely slow down. That’s why I think this year’s theme will be Taking My Time.
I like the language of Taking My Time for a few reasons. It obviously invokes slowing down, which could apply to my propensity to jump to conclusions as much as it does to hurrying from Point A to Point B. It also suggests that my time is mine. I often feel guilty for taking time for myself or saying no to something that will overwhelm my schedule; consequently, I don’t do much of either. I also like how it is reminiscent of taking it a day at a time and living in the moment.
To that end (and not contradictorily!), I have chosen a very small, very doable 365 project of drawing one mandala each day as a mindfulness practice. And I have other goals (SMART ones, even!) that I think I’ll take a month at a time. January’s goals focus on food routines in our home–something I’ll talk about another time.
Happy New Year.