New Year: New resolutions


Photo courtesy Khánh Hmoong/Flickr Commons

Photo courtesy Khánh Hmoong/Flickr Commons

This post is going to make a liar out of me. Early New Year’s Day my girlfriend asked if I made resolutions. I said rarely, or if I did, I kept them mostly to myself.

This has been mostly true in the past. When I decided to lose weight, I began logging meals and calories, started running and I did.

When I resolved to run a marathon, I found a program and trained for a half marathon by myself. After that, I signed up for a marathon training group. I will say on that one, like most people training for their first marathon, I did talk about the runs non-stop. I was nervous and excited and incredibly proud of myself at the time for just making the attempt.

But mostly, what I set my resolve toward, I approach with a quiet determination. And I’m an advocate of not making big promises to myself because of the New Year. If it’s important enough, the resolution should start immediately, be it in June, April or January. And I try to not make them big deals.

That said, I have been thinking about big things I want to change. A lot of it is sparked more by thoughts about age than time of year. I’m going to be 39 soon. I don’t necessarily have any more “answers” about life than I did at 19 or 29. I don’t feel any more settled. With age I once thought I would have “arrived.” I guess the only answer age has given me to that bit of expectation is that I’m probably only going to “arrive” on the day I die.

And if age has made one thing more concrete and clear it is that yes,  I will one day die, perhaps sooner. Maybe later. A litany of sad stories recently about those who have died, has also reminded me time is a finite gift.

So, my resolutions going into 2015 have more to do with me being more comfortable being me, doing things that actually matter to me, and to spend my precious time more thoughtfully. Basically, I want to be more mindful and fill my life with a little more meaning. I don’t want this to be self-obsessed process either, where the meaning is all about only caring about “me.” I want to guide all of my decisions about how I spend my time by a principle of kindness, both toward myself and others.

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A statement from a stranger that I used in a story I recently wrote gets to the heart of what I’m trying to say.

“Once we are our authentic selves, all the junk fades away. Those around me will tell you how much better of a human I am now because I am authentic.”

Rather than wasting my time trying to please others for the sake of approval, or to avoid discomfort, or because it’s just what I’ve always done, I hope this year to be able to pause, and say, “Is my heart really into this? Is this really what I want to spend my time doing? Or at the very least, is there a better way to do it?” And maybe, seeing what does matter to me, I’ll succeed more and judge myself less for failing to meet the expectations of others, which I typically do because I commit to doing something I really don’t care about.

I’m sure some of this change will involve a lot self discipline, and doubt. In that regard, I hope to return to a regular practice of meditation, of actually setting some time aside to digest and ponder where I am right now and if where I am is really where I want to be. I also hope this means taking the time for more writing, the type of writing I want to do. But again, time and discipline. Do these things and I’m going to need to figure out places where I stop doing other things that don’t matter quite as much.

And then there’s the component to keep me from being way too self-obsessed about this and insert kindness. I need to find somewhere to volunteer again, and soon. It’s been more than a year since my last commitment. I never know if I am actually doing good when I volunteer to help others or an organization. Maybe I am just doing it just to feel good about me. Maybe the only thing that matters is that I try, because it does make me a better person. And maybe I do add a little more goodness and kindness to a world that often seems sorely lacking both. So, I will add that to the plate as well, or try.

I’m not sure these make good resolutions or not, but that is where my resolve lies at the moment. Perhaps that will change tomorrow. And maybe there will be something more measurable and concrete I will try to do to reach these goals that I will share here. The year is young and right now there is still time to figure some of that out.

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