THIS IS NOT A LIST OF RESOLUTIONS.
We people seem to nurture the attitude that a new year is a new start, a chance to transform into the person you want to be. To an extent, this is true. In the new year we can choose to let bygones be bygones and all that other stuff. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that a New Year doesn’t have to be #newyearnewyou.
I can’t say I don’t have a long list of resolutions, because I absolutely do. I also read a great blog post about what resolutions not to make this year here. It made me chuckle because many of mine were on the list.
While resolutions and positive wishes for the new year are all well intentioned and creating goals for your next stage of life is a valuable practice, sometimes these goals become too grand and the new year becomes a place of pressure. It has to start well, end well, and we make a huge long list of priorities for ourselves then immediately feel bad the first time we eat a cookie and abandon our plan to lose weight, be better, slimmer, smarter, etc. etc. Instead of this idea of a new year, and a new you, why not let the new year be a year in which you develop a new acceptance and new understanding of yourself.
There’s a quote from Joan Didion that’s been my mantra for some time now. I’ve been wanting to write about it for a while because it means a lot to me, and I think it’s perfect for the start of a new year.
She says in Slouching Towards Bethlehem,
“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”
Whether you love or hate the person you used to be, whether you think you need a “new year, new you” or not, you cannot forget who you’ve been and accept that. This does not mean that you should bask in nostalgia; memory lane can, in fact, be a dead end. It’s the nuance of “nodding terms” that attracts me to this quote and I think it’s important to engage in a process of dismissing the past year and welcoming the new, nodding and waving to both in a sense.
Maybe we should gently acknowledge what we liked and didn’t like about last year, hold onto that loosely, and welcome the possibility of the next year without expectations or rigid requirements for the progress we must make. I think that’s a whole lot of pressure to put on ourselves so early in January.
Take it easy and nod for the old, smile for the new. The year holds the promise of new experiences, new triumphs, new failures, and most importantly, new lessons.
I hope my thoughts on new years and resolutions are helpful and interesting. Feel free to share some thoughts of your own, and I hope that the new year keeps you happy and healthy and learning new things.