Hey Family and Friends,
As you may (or may not) know, I like to start every year with a set of New Year’s Resolutions and some theme that should set the tone of happiness, wholeness, wellness, and joy that would beatify the rest of the year. I usually pick 10-15 things I hope to accomplish or do in the next 12 months. Usually 8-12 items on the list are repeats from the year- or the years– before that were not accomplished. Some might say that my New Year’s Resolutions are really a reminder of things that I haven’t been able to achieve. For instance, am I really ever going to get back down to the weight I put on my driver’s license? Honestly, I lied about that weight on my driver’s licences. It had been at least 2 years since I actually weighed that number when I applied for my license. Which makes me think- are some of my goals impossible and unattainable?
But I digress…
But of course I have to do something for this year. I love list. I make list about list. The New Year’s Resolution is the cornerstone list that all my future list will proceed from for the entire year.
Drumroll please…*insert drumroll here*
This year’s resolutions will not include things that I hope to accomplish. They will not be the quintessential SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-specific, Time-bound) goals that usually dictate the year. I realize I often attach success with some sort of external achievement marker or milestone. But don’t we all do that? If you had read any of my previous letters (shameless plug here) you would see that every month in some way or fashion I come to the conclusion that the external things that I seek do not fix the internal issues I grapple with. That’s like giving a person a warm jacket to help lower their high blood pressure. Yes, the warm jacket is nice- and possibly needed- but it doesn’t address the internal need of controlling the blood pressure.
My undergraduate advisor once told me that what we do is not who we are. This occurred during a conversation after I just got a “D” grade, during my senior year, in one of the courses that was required to graduate. I had felt like my entire life had been a complete failure becuase of the grade I received. Yes, that had been a tiny bit dramatic, but I’m not the only one who lets life’s bumps in the road question my value to life.
In the same spirit of mistakingly thinking that what we do is who we are, sayings like, “New year, new me” appear in January’s common lexicon. It implies that something is inherently wrong with the “old” you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to be a better person, but there is something unsettling about wanting to completely change the person who you have been for the past however many years.
Remember on shows like Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones where the person who was the high school nerd wants to come on the show to parade that they transformed into this business savvy vixen. The show’s sybaritic guest will say that they have their own business (which was code for something in the porn industry) and that they are so happy and successful. But if they are so happy and successful, why are they coming back to confront a bully from 10+ years ago? I think it is because they were still insecure internally and hoping that an approval or reaction from a former classmate (who usually didn’t remember that person) would ameliorate their insecurity. It may have been a new year with a new wardrobe/ circle of friends/ “business”/ whatever… but the same old insecurities and need for external validation existed.
This year, my resolutions will not be anything along the lines of “new year, new me”. I’m going to take a strength based approach in starting a list for the year. I’m keeping the “old” me, but refining what I value in life. I wrote 16 “I am” statements that I hope to internalize and fulfill so that they will carry me through the entire year. For example,
In 2016, I am:
- Deeply loved by others and I freely express unconditional love in return.
- You didn’t think I would put the entire list up, did you?
It was a challenge to define what things I truly need out of life, relationships, and my own personal growth this year that have nothing to do with external circumstances. My resolutions had nothing to do with traveling to a new destination (which I still hope to do), or getting back down to my high school weight (which will never happen), or do something awesome like fly in a jet plane (which I have no idea why that ever reached my New Year’s Resolution to begin with). I hope to set the bar on meaningful things instead of things that keep me busy. The other day, my friend, Micah, said something along the lines, of “ When we forget what our purpose is we start missing the mark of how we should measure our failures and successes”.
Take a moment and read that again.
When we forget what our purpose is we start missing the mark of how we should measure our failures and successes.
It’s like when people tell you how amazing your life is and you just think, “If only they knew what really goes on in my life”. Yes that is true. Your life isn’t perfect and you go through things you so can learn how to grow through future turmoils. In the same breath, sometimes you don’t appreciate the fruits of your labor because you are too focused on the few weeds and the patience and labor it took for you to bare the beautiful fruit in your life. You will always feel like a failure if you measure your successes and mistakes to by someone else’s ideas and standards that are not true to your purpose and holistic wellbeing.
Back to the New Year’s Resolutions.
This year’s theme for my life is: Be like water- fluid, reflective, and always tending towards stillness. As always, I don’t know what that means in real life practice. But, it sounds good, right? I would love to hear from you about what that means to you. Better yet, are you considering a theme for your year? I would love to hear about. Again, each month this year I will write something on that theme as I try to figure out life.
So, I’m going to go ahead and wrap this letter up. It’s getting kinda long. I will leave you with this quote: The richest treasures of all lie buried within you.