Raise your hand if you can relate: January finds you refreshed and invigorated, and making a long list of all the ways you are going to better yourself. Eat less crap. Exercise more. Buy fewer things. Take up yoga. Be a better spouse/friend/sister. Read more books. Travel. Save money. Practice patience. Swear off social media. Volunteer. The list of things that will finally make you happy goes on. You rise each day with a new-found “Can-do” attitude. THIS, you say, is going to be my year.
But then February rolls around and you’re lucky if you managed to sneak in one trip to the gym (and that was only because it was conveniently located next to Chick-fil-A). Half-finished books are piled on your nightstand, and the only volunteering that’s happening is for happy hour with the girls. By the time March hits you’re feeling pretty bad about yourself for not following through, and sink into a kind of slump cured only by a row of Oreos. “What happened to my drive?” you think. “I was doing so well at first! What happened?”
We’ve all been there. I used to make long lists of resolutions that were going to turn me into the ultimate version of myself. I was going to conquer the world and dazzle it. And then I would achieve absolutely zero of them. I’d be great for a week, but then it was one cookie, then two, then suddenly where did the bag go?! I’d wonder what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t form better habits. What was holding me back?
In the past few years I haven’t made New Years resolutions and for some reason, the year ends up better as a result. Why is that?
I was in a yoga class this week and the instructor shared something she’s been contemplating: Resolve means to fix a problem. You are not a problem. You are not something to be fixed.
It’s an interesting concept. Maybe that’s why so many resolutions don’t stick, or why I always felt like a failure when I didn’t achieve my long list of ways to improve. The difference between listing ways we want to be better and listing ways we think we suck is subtle. But I think it could be powerful. You can want to improve without telling yourself that the current you is a total failure. So I can resolve to read more books without judgment of how much I currently read. A shift in thinking from “This is the year I’m going to fix (insert vice of your choice here)” to “I’m not something broken to be fixed” could be the difference between falling short and actual growth. Maybe giving ourselves room to be imperfect is the solution to unattainable resolutions.
So this year there will be no laundry list of my faults. No picking myself apart. No telling myself that in order to be happy I have to be different. No, instead I will pause to appreciate everything I have and everything I am, and make space to grow. I will cultivate compassion for myself. Because boy oh boy do I beat myself up all. the. time. And where is the growth in that?
What do you think? Will you take some time for a little self love? Maybe let go of the things you think you need to achieve in order to be a better person? Because guess what – you already are worthy. You are not broken. You are strong. And you’ll only get better from here.