It’s a new year, so it’s about that time where everyone is running around frantically trying to get their resolutions jammed into already busy lives and feeling the mounting disappointment and panic that accompanies the inevitable downfall.
Yes, I said it. The inevitable downfall.
The way we make resolutions is stupid. I’m just going to lay it out there like it is. It isn’t efficient, logical, helpful, motivating, and they certainly do not make us feel good. The intention is there, but the action is missing. The understanding is absent.
I was deciding this year to not make any firm resolutions. I just wanted to assess what I had learned in 2017, and take those lessons to build myself a strong 2018. This ended up being a few very simple, but still challenging goals.
Put in the level of work I do for other people into my own projects.
That was it. But I realized, these have been my goals for a while. Every year I say these are things I’m going to do, and while I do make progress (because a lot of learning these things is the unlearning of other things) I don’t feel that progress is made actively, consistently, or even on purpose.
One of my housemates and I, on the cusp of NYE, were talking about what we were giving up. What we just weren’t going to put energy into anymore, thus freeing up energy instead of trying to manifest more to do more. I liked this idea of acknowledging how much we have to give and being accountable for where we give it. But she one upped that.
“Wanna see my New Years Resolutions?”
She pulls out her phone and hands me a list titled “2018 Struggles to Fulfillment”
This seems… not quite right. But I go with it. And as I read, I start to understand the brilliance of what she’s just put before me:
2018 Struggles to Fulfillment
- Get in shape: the struggle to getting in shape is going to yoga consistently, minding that I eat and following through.
- Get off the neverending victim treadmill: go talk to someone. That simple. You are not special. These problems aren’t unique. There is help.
- Get over not everyone liking you: not everyone has to like you. Not everyone does because you don’t (duh). This includes your mother. The struggle to fulfillment is simple: put energy in relationships that consistently push you to achieve your best
- Move forward in your career: congratulations! At 23 you became a manager of a program for a position that no one’s done before. Work is supposed to be stressful (sometimes). Put in work to get shit done which includes the following:
- Plan something you’ve never done
- Social media. Use it idiot
- Schools schools schools
- Play nice. Despite tendencies, everyone has your back
- When you feel lost HAVE THE AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS
- For the love of God you have nothing but time. Stop procrastinating and use it wisely.
- Start having some fucking confidence: The struggle to fulfillment is simple. 2018 will be the year you will not give up on yourself. No more bullshit.
At first these struck me as classic resolutions. But as I read more I realized that she had been able to nail what always evades us in creating these.
We need to acknowledge why the things we want to do, but don’t, are challenging.
That’s it. It’s that simple. We look at the things we want for our lives but not the roadblocks. We push ourselves up blindly against the things that hold us back and look so hopefully at what we want we don’t realize why we can’t truly have it.
There are a multitude of things that really block us, and it turns out the hard part isn’t the path to get to what we want. The hard part is facing the things that we are avoiding or trying to blindly overcome by setting these goals. You’re not going to make it to the gym 3 times a week for the entire year if you don’t acknowledge why you want to go, why you haven’t gone in the past, and what might stop you in the future.
“I want to lose weight but I don’t have time to go to the gym and I’m a bad cook so I can’t make healthy food taste good!”
Guess what? You’re spending hours on pinterest anyway, may as well look up some recipes and some 15 minute work outs that you can do at home. You are choosing where to spend your time and energy. Genuinely assess this, and then assess how you feel about it. Look the bullshit in the eyes, and make changes.
Second: MAKE IT MANAGEABLE
We lack plans of action!
You don’t need to schedule out every minute of your day. The compulsion to have a completely set schedule, especially in the new year, is often what causes us to fail. Changing all of our routines and habits at once gives us nothing to hold onto when things are challenging or we can’t meet those expectations. Often, we fall off the pedestal we’ve crawled and screamed our way onto, and after shaking up there in terror for all that we expect of ourselves we eventually get tired and fall down. Down to the lowest parts of ourselves that host the habits we don’t deal with; binge eating, staying up too late or sleeping in too late, eating out, losing track of our budget. We “indulge” in these things we find comforting because we ultimately expect ourselves to be disappointed by our efforts to achieve something outside of what we know.
Here’s the thing – we need to be realistic. We need to know what we are capable of. If we want to go to the gym 3 times a week, but only have 2 hours free available then we need to assess where that time is coming from and why it’s important to make the switch. We need to acknowledge why it’s hard, and then why it’s necessary. We need to be real about how long it’s going to take to set a routine, to feel comfortable in the tasks we set out to do, and in how much time and brain power we can allot to these things.
We need be accountable for our time. When we get used to blaming people, circumstances, and life for our mishaps and downfalls it makes it easy for us to not get back on the train because these things keep happening and will keep happening. Once you realize that, and you accept that life can effectively get in the way of any of our goals, then you can realize that we choose what we put energy into. We choose what comes to fruition.
Fourth: BE REALISTIC
Don’t bombard yourself with expectations and goals. If you have 10 resolutions, then maybe you need to find what the common theme amongst them is and work with that. We spread ourselves too thin, and expect too much of ourselves. Once we simplify things and start from the base up, then we effectively make positive changes in other areas of our life as a result. You don’t need to have a detailed map of how every little thing is going to create a domino effect in your life. Giving yourself the tools to be successful – including not overwhelming yourself – is the best thing you can do in setting yourself up to see out your resolutions, and really any goal.
Resolutions should not dissolve your will. They should motivate you to see how your life can grow and be better. They don’t all need to start at once, either. Maybe you implement one and once that has a solid foothold in your life you start working on another. Learn to flow. To be accountable. To understand, acknowledge, and then change those things that you struggle with in your growth. And watch your life bloom once you give yourself breathing room from oppressing expectations.