It’s a strange time for New Year’s resolutions.
My reading is that culturally, there is a general sense of powerlessness after several years of upheaval. There has been so much loss and grief – loss of life, quality of life, canceled plans (and more recently flights) and disappointment. That doesn’t even touch on what it feels like to work during a pandemic and the ensuing mass burnout, or what it means to be a parent — or a child — right now.
In the face of so much uncertainty and following so many disappointments, the lack of enthusiasm for decision-making is understandable.
Generally, what I read about resolutions ends with a collective exhalation, like we’re all simultaneously sighing at the idea of another new year. Along with this is the desire to hope for something like security and grace, as opposed to change and commitment.
I see myself as a dog turning around in his bed trying to figure out where I want to settle down.
On the one hand, I totally understand the general cultural sentiment away from resolutions and more towards something like setting an intention for the coming year. I share this.
But I’m also a fan of New Year’s resolutions.
Although the change of calendar year is artificial, we agree on it. Sure, time is a construct, etc.—but it scaffolds much of our lives and how we approach and navigate the world, individually and collectively. The idea of a “new year” and a fresh start is appealing. There is nothing unique about the moment itself at the time of its occurrence, except the meaning we give it.
And I do. every year.
[12 ways to feel better in 2023, one month at a time]
One of my favorite activities at the end of the year is focused self-reflection. No one will be surprised to learn that I have a Google Doc with prompts that I copy from the previous year and review as I go, before deleting my previous answers in a new doc to start over.
Prompts include: “What was great about this year?” “What wasn’t so great about this year?” “Looking back at my highlights of the past year … what themes emerge? Are these themes really important to me?” “What goals or habits can I set to create highlights for the coming year?” and more.
Throughout mid to late December, I begin to flow consciousness in response to these requests. I’ll remember more as the month goes on, and sometimes by early January. I open it as many times as I want to fix it. For example, I recently realized I forgot to list the whole “Sold Our House” thing as part of the big events of 2022 – it’s always interesting to see what takes off and what doesn’t.
This year, as in many years, I am building on the achievements of previous years and the lessons learned. Where I’m settling is a happy medium between intentions—the ways I want to experience life, the world, and being with others, versus fixed outcomes/plans—and goal setting. I’ll leave the latter a bit open to interpretation, not locking myself into anything completely yet so I can see how the year goes.
I think it’s a reminder and my experience of where I see us as a culture in general in our approach to the 2023 resolutions. When it comes to my usual level of determination, I’ve given up in favor of choosing activities, activities, or perspectives that help me make my life better and more fulfilling, whatever that may be.
My word for next year is “easy”. I don’t expect my life to be easy – far from it, in fact – but I think I can live it in easier and smoother ways. I have tried to fully internalize the Serenity Prayer, especially in recognizing what I cannot change. Accepting that helps me go with the flow, even when and especially when life throws its inevitable curveballs.
When it comes to being outside, it’s my platform for joy and presence for the rest of my life. I don’t need to make too many decisions there.
That being said, this year I want to continue the decisions and intentions of the past years in the open air. I share them here in the spirit of openness, but also as ideas for anyone else who, like me, is still settling on their approach and resolution for 2023.
Goals for 2023:
• Be present in many outer spaces and moments when I am lucky, using all your senses. Don’t fast forward, ruminate, or find an Instagram caption right now. Pay attention to its appearance, feel, smell and sounds.
• Try new things. Say yes to opportunities as they arise, even if change exhausts me (true – but I know that change energizes me in the long run by making me feel empowered).
• Find opportunities to play. I don’t have to go for a run for exercise to count. Chase my friends’ kids around the yard or push them on the swing. Find a trampoline or go to a trampoline park. Splash in a pool. Go sledding
• Socialize outside the home. Swap the meeting for a beer for a walk. If possible, have walking phone meetings. planning for a walk; Have a picnic
• walking. Just make simple movements every day. I don’t need to pull or remove layers to go and walk.
• Be creative outside. Write. color it Create a scavenger hunt and do it. Whatever it looks like – use scenery as a launching pad to create for creation’s sake and (see above).
We live in difficult times that are changing so fast – so fast, it often seems impossible to make solid plans. But in this, I believe it is still possible to change the chart. This year looks different than last, with a new level of consistency required to pursue a solution.
[6 simple steps to build an exercise habit]