A few days into 2016, I pulled out my journal, sat down at my desk and, almost from instinct, wrote my New Year’s resolutions. When I set my pen down and pushed my chair back a half an hour or so later, I was somewhat surprised at what I had written. For the first time, I hadn’t said things like “eat healthier, stick to a workout plan, try to be nicer, manage my time better.” In retrospect, the experience of writing my 2016 New Year’s resolutions was my first real brush with setting life-affirming intentions. I didn’t just think about what I wanted to do, but how I wanted to be.
This list of ten goals, of ten affirmations, has become somewhat of a framework by which I try to live. Call it a secondary mission statement, maybe. (You can check out my primary mission statement here. It all fits together.) When January of 2017 rolled around, I thought about sitting down to write a new set. I did sit down, in fact, but nothing more came. I couldn’t outdo what I had written last year. Inadvertently, 16 months ago, I defined a set of my values that, today, require no revision. The things I was trying to do and be 16 months ago are still relevant to my life today. I guess this isn't all that surprising. Making a paradigm shift takes time, so if I’m being honest, they will probably still be relevant in 16 months. Or 16 years. Maybe. Who knows? What I do know is that - right now - they feel pretty damn good. I often refer to them when I’m trying to make a decision or if I'm experiencing some doubt. I ask myself: does [this thing I’m thinking about] fit my ten resolutions in some way? Does this thing line up with these other key things I’m trying to invite into my life?
These ten resolutions have become a crucial piece of my experience and pursuit of intentionality. Whenever I’m faced with something that feels like a dilemma, I worry less about the individual decision itself, and more about the implications of what the decision says about who I am as a person. I have wasted a lot less time hovering in procrastination and indecisiveness since taking this approach. Focusing less on what you want to do and more on who you want to be makes the action that much easier. It is the perspective shift from outcome to process. I’ll write more about that another day, but in short, if I view myself as the kind of person who gets things done, then I get things done. If I want to be the kind of person who gets up with the sun and drinks warm lemon water, does some gentle stretching, and meditates to prepare my mind and body for the day, then I’d better get my ass out of bed and do it. I can’t be the kind of person I claim to be, or want to claim to be, unless I do the things that that kind of person would do. It’s a subtle shift, but for me, it’s been very effective.
I believe that the first step on that resolution/affirmation/intention path was, for me, this list. Since writing it, I have come to believe that saving resolutions for the new year is absolute bullshit. It’s that “ehhh I’ll start on Monday” mentality. Let me give you a little spoiler alert: tomorrow never comes. It’s an idea. That one junk drawer in the kitchen where you put things you feel like you should keep but don’t really want to deal with. So pardon my tough-love approach to this (or don’t, I don’t care), but enough with your tomorrow’s and your next year’s. Don’t wait until January of 2018 to set your intentions. Do it now. Write a manifesto. Write one down every night before bed. Write down what kind of person you want to be and what that would look like and then every day, strive to live in accordance with what you’ve written. If you forget? Begin again. It doesn’t matter if today you were rude and impatient and ate too much pizza. Right now you can drink a glass of water and stretch and go to bed on time.
Tomorrow never comes. Practice being the person you daydream about being right now.
You already have everything you have ever needed to be the person you’ve always wanted to become.
With that in mind, here are my 2016 New Year (Life) Resolutions:
1. MARRY MYSELF: I might even throw a party to celebrate the commitment. I will love myself and support myself and take care of myself. For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. Richer or poorer. I will congratulate myself on good days and lift myself up after bad ones. I will be proud of myself. Honor myself and keep the promises that I make. I will be honest and open, patient, kind, caring, generous, supportive, respectful, true. I WILL LOVE MYSELF.
2. NEW THINGS: I will reject the nature to be a “creature of habit”. I will distinguish between ritual and practice and complacent habits. I will embrace newness on all levels and at every opportunity. From things as simple as trying something new on a menu or turning down a new street, to more daring things like attempting new ways of thinking or shooting for new levels of emotional growth or travel to new lands. I will embrace a true spirit of adventure. “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” (Chris McCandless)
3. WISE AND BOLD: I will act with wisdom and fierce conviction. I will be daring without being rash. Adventurous without naivety. I will call on both my ferocity and intellect to make decisions.
4. MAKE NOISE: I have words of value. I will see them heard. I will not swallow the important things I have to say. Sometimes spoken, sometimes sung. I am a being of music, and this year, I will make it.
5. RELEASE: There are things in my life that no longer serve me. I will let them go. I will also release some control. While I am a co-creator of my reality, I am not the sole creator. Some things are beyond my power. I will let them go. I will release negative emotions. I will no longer harbor ill-will. I release some people, some memories, some feelings. There is freedom in letting go. Like a leaf in autumn, I will have no fear as I release my hold on the the things that hold me back. I will never know that I can fly if I’m too afraid to fall.
6. EDUCATE: It is my responsibility to educate myself. It is my calling to educate the people who cross my path. I will vigorously pursue new knowledge. I will take online classes, read books, talk to strangers. I will take in new perspectives and broaden my horizons. I will sort through the infinite amount of information available to me and seek truth. I will use it to filter and explain my experience, and so help shape the experiences of other people. I cannot contribute to the world if I know nothing about it.
7. HONOR: I will honor myself. I will honor the earth. I will honor every being that I encounter. With great humility, I will respect the interdependence of everything. I will revel in the glory of all things.
8. RADIATE: I cultivate my energy so that I may share it. I will fill myself so that I may help to fill others. “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases from being shared.” The greatest good that will come out of the soul work that I do will be to bring that same work to other people. Pay it forward. It is my goal to uplift the people I encounter simply in encountering them. I will radiate compassion and lovingkindness. If I am to put anything out into the universe, let it be positivity and light.
9. WALK THE TALK: I’ve been on about these life-affirming practices, this conversation about mindful living, for ages. I’ve been slowly incorporating these things into my life, but this year I’m going to ramp it the fuck up. I’m going to escalate. I will practice what I preach. I will live in a way that I can be proud of. I will accept the consequences of being myself. I will live deliberately. I will engage. I will un-clutter my space and my mind. I will treat my body well. I will treat my heart well. I will develop practices that suit me and my goals, and I will stick with them.
10. BE: Sometimes, I will give myself permission to just be. To just be alive. To step back from the self-analysis and just immerse myself in my existence.
Propel yourself in the direction of your dreams. I'm rooting for you!