I’m not really a fan of new year’s resolutions. If I’m being totally honest, I think they are kind of silly and mostly useless, jumped into with an excitement only to be forgotten within two weeks.
I’ve never been good at them and yet, most years, I still find myself considering what I might want my new year’s resolution to be. I get sucked into the idea that maybe this year it will be a good thing to take on the challenge of a new goal created based on the change of numbers on a calendar.
Those goals though, feel limiting and somehow artificial. I often hear things like, “no more coffee” or “no more ice cream” but the thing is, I like coffee and I like ice cream and I don’t want to head into a new year by limiting myself.
I’ve decided to approach this year a little bit differently. Instead of finding something to give up or change in order to be healthier over the next year while ultimately not having a clue what the year will bring, I’m taking the route of reflection.
The past year has brought with it a laundry list of changes. Pregnancy, childbirth, a cross-country move, the purchase of our first home, starting my own business and starting a new job top the list. With all of that change, I find myself wondering how I could even know what to expect for the year to come.
I do know that the past year has brought with it great happiness, joy and challenges alike.
In the past I’ve tried assigning a word to my year. I’d heard that is a thing that people do. They choose a word to motivate them or to connect with, providing some kind of anchor to them for their goals.
I’ve tried that. It’s more successful than ditching pop and candy. I chose three in particular a few years ago that have somehow stuck with me over time.
Patient, kind and gentle.
Those are three things that I think most of us can always work on. I like the approach of choosing a word to assign to the year as a way to reflect on the past year and subtle changes we can make going forward.
What were the threads of kindness throughout my year? How can I be a kinder person? Was I patient? What can I do to be a more patient mother? Spouse? Employee? Was I gentle in the way I handled my everyday life? In my responses to challenges? How can I be a more gentle person on a daily basis?
Somehow reflecting on my past year, not on the fact that I’ve probably eaten too many pieces of cheesecake and somewhere along the way have forgotten that I used to exercise regularly, but rather reflecting on who I have been as a person, how I’ve treated the people around me and how I’ve approached my day to day life is allowing me to consider how I can become a kinder, gentler and more patient person in the years to follow.
I never know what to expect going into a new year. I never know what changes will come alongside the change in numbers on the calendar but I do know that everyday is a work in progress at being a better person. I’m still going to eat a second slice of cheesecake if I want to and I’ll drink more coffee than necessary but I am certainly going to enjoy those cake slices and coffee without any twinge of guilt that I broke that new years resolution four days into the year.