New Year, New What?

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Just over a year ago, I wrote Don't wait until January to set your resolutions. That's bullshit.

This may or may not come as a shock, but my opinion of that hasn’t really changed.

I’m not someone that gets super stoked on the holidays. I often feel that holiday celebrations are forced. They can feel superficial - sometimes more like marketing campaigns than honest appreciation for something. For many (myself included), they come with guilt for not doing enough or not spending enough.

New Years in particular can have a shadow side. There is so much comparison this time of year. I see so many transformation stories that, while beautiful and exciting for those who have made progress in a way that serves them, can bring feelings of inadequacy for those who haven’t made transformations that are so obviously dramatic. The end of the year brings with it the common question - what did you do this year? What did you create? How did you grow? And if the answers aren’t immediately obvious, the self-doubt can be debilitating. Did I do enough? Am I better than I was?

Upon reflecting on that, we set resolutions for the coming year to improve in myriad ways. This idea is well-intentioned, but that shift in focus towards the ways in which we need to be better can take away from the recognition of all of the good things that we already are and have done. I also find the idea of New Year’s resolutions to be extremely limiting. Every single moment brings with it the opportunity to begin again, and when we confine our idea of starting anew to the beginning of the calendar year, we lose 11 months’ worth of chances.

I write to you now to call you forth to do two things: expand your perspective of what it means to begin again (and when that’s possible - hint: always) and celebrate what you have achieved.

You are already brilliant. You really are. I’m not necessarily someone that gushes about us all being sparkly perfect unicorns bursting with love and rainbows, but I do believe that at our core, there is nothing wrong with us. So long as you are deliberate in your thoughts, words, and actions, so long as you are staying true to who you are and who you aim to become, so long as you are letting kindness and compassion inform the way you move through life, then you are enough. If you must reflect on the last calendar year, then do so in celebration of who you are, not in criticism of who are in comparison to what you wish you were. Honor yourself in your countless merits. Even if you are struggling, even if you spent every moment of 2017 struggling, you have done something well - and if you can’t think of anything, please please reach out to me and I will help you find that something. I promise you, it’s there.

If setting resolutions is something that appeals to you, wonderful, go for it. But for each one that you set, ask yourself why that’s something that you want to do - and once you have your answer, ask yourself what is truer than that? Let’s pick a common example. Resolution: exercise regularly. Why? Because you want to be fit. Fine, not bad in and of itself, but what is truer than that desire for fitness? Do you want to look better? What’s that about? Do you want to feel healthier? What’s that about? Dig a little deeper. The better than you can understand your own desires to change, the more likely you are to be able to stick to whatever that resolution is, and the more likely you are to go about it in a life-affirming way, rather than a harmful way. If you stop at “I want to look better,” you risk a year of “I don’t look good enough yet.” That discouragement can throw you off-track to the point where you give up entirely - which brings me to my next recommendation on approaching resolutions: begin again.

Every time you set out to do something meaningful, there is an extreme likelihood that, at some point, you will lose track. You will fall off the wagon. You will doubt what you’re doing. If you don’t, then maybe you aren't reaching far enough. But when you do almost give up, when you do fall off the wagon - pause. Take a breath. Begin again.

I expect that you will experience failure, but I also expect that you will try again. It does not matter how many times you fall down, so long as you get back up one more time. Sometimes this will mean reevaluating and being realistic about your goals, maybe with a shift in method or perspective, but always always begin again. You don’t have to wait until Dec. 31, 2018 to give it another shot.

Going into this new year, have courage. Be strong in your convictions and flexible in your approach. Be proud of who you are and of who you are becoming.

We are in this together.

Yours with love and wishes for an exhilarating 2018,
Spencer