We’re always trying to mark the passage of time. We’ve defined a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a month, and a year to keep track of the rising and setting of the sun, to quantify our inhale and exhale, the beating of our hearts. We celebrate when a fresh human being clocks in and when an old-timer moves on from the here and now. Our birthday parties are records of our continuing existence and our age, among other things, defines us. In a culture which prizes the beauty and strength of youth, many of us try to keep the number of our days a secret through hair dye, wrinkle creams, trendy clothing, fitness, plastic surgery, and furious denial. If you don’t want others to know your age, I suggest you hide your photo albums when your friends come over or you’ll be providing them with before and after photos. From time cards at work to the renewal of our driver’s licenses, we’re reminded that time is passing.
Now that we’ve partied in another year, I’d like to wish you a Happy More of the Same! Putting the word new before the word year would imply that there is going to be something fresh or different about 2018 or even that there is a difference between December 31 and January 1. At least we hope there is. We want the day we sit down, pen in hand or fingertips poised on the keyboard, to plan an overhaul of our less-than-glowing lives to be nothing short of magical. We need what help we can get, after all.
Many individuals have given up on the New Year’s resolution arguing that most people who make resolutions become trapped in a circle of failure. They make earnest promises on New Years Day, quit the program three months in, and make the same resolutions nine months later. I’ve been ralphing on my own resolutions merry-go-round for years and, yet, I believe that resolutions are important. As a human being and a member of society, we owe it to ourselves and each other to be the best people we can be, but how do we turn resolutions into realities? These are my thoughts:
1) Write your dreams down and be outrageous. Don’t censor yourself. Be open to exploring your deepest desires. Imagine you’re a painter who has an abundance of vibrant colors to choose from. Splatter the canvas with goals to nourish and enliven your body and soul and be specific. Vague notions will never come to fruition.
2) Prioritize. Ask yourself, “What really matters to me?” Pare down to the imperative. No matter how gifted, wealthy, and free we are, most of us have limits. Too many resolutions will obscure your focus and deplete your resources. Once you’ve plucked the gems from the pile, chunk them up into the steps you’ll need to take to reach your destination. Then, get moving.
3) Be realistic and gentle with yourself. Change of any kind is hard. It takes time and patience to create something or acquire a new skill. Ditching unhelpful behaviors is especially difficult. Bad habits are like pesky farts that stick to our butts. Those who escape the prison of their negative patterns are heroes in my eyes. Don’t dwell on your slip ups. Celebrate every entry in your agenda you’re able to cross out, recount every day all those things that you do right. Rewards are motivating. Do the hard thing and then follow it with something you enjoy. If encouragement from others isn’t forthcoming, DIY! For awhile, before I went to bed, I would say, “Congratulations, Polly. You didn’t eat yourself into a coma today!”
4) Take care of yourself. I’ve acknowledged all the ways I abuse and ignore myself. I expect my body to run on inadequate or substandard fuel. I don’t get enough exercise. I fear the day my family will be unable to distinguish me from the couch. If we can put a man on the moon, surely I can wash my face before retiring at night. Self care is an essential ingredient for success of any kind. When you neglect your own needs, it hampers your ability to think clearly, erodes your self-esteem, and dampens your energy level. Let yourself go and you’ll be good for nothing.
5) Take care of others. Our resolutions should include others. We were meant to share the good goods we’ve been given. What will you do for the sake of others in this new year? You won’t need to look far to see need, but don’t burn yourself out. Do what you can with what you’ve got.
6) Resolve to resolve on a regular basis; make New Day resolutions. Remind yourself of the value attached to your commitment and re-commit over and over. A well-conceived proposal will be shredder fodder, if you never refer back to it. Monitor your progress, identify what isn’t working for you, and consistently update your plans.
7) Ask for help. Tell a trusted friend what you hope to accomplish, someone who’ll surely annoy you by pestering you about whether or not you’re following through. Don’t underestimate the power of having a sounding board, a muse, a collaborator, and a cheerleader. When you realize your dreams, you’ll have someone to celebrate with.
I could spout that old cliché, “today is the first day of the rest of your life”, but that doesn’t work for me. Maybe that whole “rest of your life” stuff overwhelms me, so I’ll just say, today is the day. One day, one standard serving of 24 hours. Don’t spend more than a few minutes lamenting yesterday’s mistakes. Don’t worry about what may come tomorrow. Focus on this day and what you can do to make it peaceful, joy-filled, creative, and life-giving. Happy New Day, my friends, and many more! 😀
Complete the experience. Listen to Avalon’s “It’s a New Day“.
Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram @pollyeloquent. 🙂