Thursday, January 3, 2013

On Sort-of Resolutions

from the last new year

I've never been big on resolutions.

At least, not in the traditional sense. One year I decided to write something at the beginning of every month for 12 months, a way of marking where I was, but that started in November. It worked for me. New Year's resolutions always seemed like a bit of an excuse: pick a flaw, a weakness, something you wanted to work on or aren't comfortable with...and almost arbitrarily create a way/excuse/motivation to address it, rather than committing when you're ready. Maybe your new year starts in June. Maybe in starts in September. Maybe it's the end of this month.

They also tended to seem unrealistic. I'm not big on planning out life. I've been shown a few too many times it how it can go off track, and I'm certainly not where I thought I'd be last January. Maybe you won't lose 10 pounds. Maybe it'll be because you gain some laughs. Or a new life. Or maybe a culinary degree, or maybe even some muscle. Maybe it's just too easy for me to feel like I've failed if I haven't met this set goal or don't feel like I'm working towards it adequately. Maybe we all need reminders and permission to forgive ourselves sometimes.

But this year brings a lot with it for me. It needs a bit of work; some purpose. Even just a little bit of structured sanity, you know? Talking with a loved one, he brought up this idea of monthly resolutions. Instead of committing to one, big, year-long adventure, we thought about tiny ones. Manageable ones. Little positive goals. A way of bettering ourselves that could be seen and represented and felt in some form, quickly (or relatively so). Things that are hard to commit to for a year, or intimidating on large scales. Things that, if they maybe didn't go as well as you wanted, would be followed by another new, good thing to try. Maybe it's not practical to exercise 3 times a week for a year, but maybe just a few weeks could improve your habits. Maybe you won't become a great musician, no matter how hard you practice. Maybe you'll meet somebody new. Maybe you'll shake up your life. Maybe I'll try, too.

We've been brainstorming lists for ourselves, goals to place in a jar or a cup and pull out the beginning of each month. And commit to trying that one thing. To find something fresh. Something good. Something of ourselves in the process.

Here's a bit of what we've got so far:
  • buy yourself flowers
  • look at the stars
  • do something physically
  • try/bake something new
  • search for pieces of joy
  • write every day
  • perform random acts of kindness
  • reach out to someone new
  • paint
  • go someplace new
  • cook something for other people
  • treat yourself to something you normally wouldn't
  • build something
  • learn about something new

Here's to the new year. What are you looking towards?

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