At the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, I tend to become very philosophical, and a little supersitious. That’s when you’ll most likely find me reading the previous month’s Astrology Zone, making lists in my diary, or cutting inspirational photos and phrases out of magazines.
I’m a big believer in the power of intent, and I sincerely believe in making New Year’s resolutions every year. It’s something I’ve been doing for years now, and as I’ve grown older my list of resolutions has become shorter and more realistic. Instead of making a list of ten resolutions with vague instructions like “lose weight” or “write a book,” I’ve whittled it down to five goals that come with concrete ways to achieve them. I also used to publicly declare my resolutions to friends and family. Not anymore. Now I prefer to keep them to myself until I’ve come close to realizing my resolutions.
I know quite a few people who decry the practice of making New Year’s resolutions. “Why January 1? If you really want to change, do it any other day of the year!” “New Year’s resolutions are stupid. Nobody ever keeps them. The practice is ultimately meaningless.”
I’ve heard it all. But still, I believe. I believe in resolving to be a better person, whether it’s on the first of the year, or your birthday, or the Fourth of July. I believe in setting goals, creating realistic and achievable benchmarks, and the satisfaction that comes in saying “I did that,” when you’ve earned the right to do so. January 1st is the beginning of our calendar year so I think a sense of new beginnings is only to be expected.
This year I’ve made resolutions for my body, my mind, and my spirit. I’ve started working on a vision book (inspired by this Necole Bitchie post), and it’s immensely inspiring to take the time to sit quietly and map out the hopes and dreams I plan to fulfill in the next 12 months. I’ve got some exciting travel plans around the corner and this year is already moving fast. The beginning of the year is a great time to get organized, learn from the mistakes you made and regrets you have from the last year, and to strategize new ways to make your dreams a reality. I’m all about it. Are you?
PS: I recently had a conversation with a family friend who was feeling down about her accomplishments and unsure about the next steps to take in her life. She was stuck in a mental rut of looking down on her own achievements, and feeling competitive. It happens in schools, it happens in the workplace, it happens amongst housewives vying to have the perfect lawn. We beat ourselves up, instead of celebrating our own victories. I quoted Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata to her and much to my surprise, she had never heard of it! Bellas, if you haven’t read this poem before, I encourage you to take the time to read it. It speaks such essential truth about the way you can live a happy life, and wasn’t written by a prophet or mystic — just a writer and attorney from Terre Haute, Indiana.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
— Max Ehrmann, 1927
Happy New Year, everyone!!!