New Year’s Eve began in typical fashion — with an early morning run with Sue. We met at the gym to take a spin on the treadmill and chat on the last day of 2010. The topic of the changing year came up and Sue explained that she doesn’t make resolutions.
“I don’t want to make a resolution I can break,” she said. “I want to make lifestyle changes. Those last.”
Point well-taken, but it seems New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. We think about how long we can keep our resolutions, as if we need to white-knuckle our way through the things we want in life. It’s kind of like Lent only without a definitive end date and probably with more fudging of the truth of how long we lasted on our bid to give up bad habits/take up good ones.
But there is something hopeful about New Year’s Eve. It’s probably why it’s my favorite holiday of the year. I enjoy the whole New Year’s experience not because of party invitations or big, boisterous plans (although I admit I am a fan of champagne) but because of the possibilities it brings.
A friend remarked on Facebook that evaluating a year as “good” or “bad” depends solely on what we choose to focus on and the same applies for resolutions for the next year. If it’s worth doing is it worth doing right now? Sure. But some things don’t come to us instantly. Some things need time to sit in our heart, to take hold in our consciousness until they are no longer ways we want to be, but ways in which we simply are.
Perhaps it’s the word “resolution” which gets us tangled up and the way corporate culture has pounced on the word to market all kinds of products and services this time of year.
Maybe it’s better to think about “intention.”
What do I want for myself in 2011? How do I want to feel? How do I want to be?
Start with the intention and the specifics will follow. And by focusing on the intention, it allows for the specifics to change and morph, rather than be hard and fast rules which, when we fail to achieve, leave us feeling worse instead of better.
So what are my intentions for 2011?
Try new things. Challenge myself. Find adventure both big and small. Do the things I love. Spend time with the people I love. Continue to let go of fears. Embrace my dreams without insecurity or reticence.
What might that look like? I set goals for living my intentions, examples if you will of how I might live out what I’m wanting for my life:
Run a 4:30 marathon. Travel to one new place. Try horseback riding. Go snowshoeing and ice skating. Host a dinner party. Finish editing and publish my triathlon memoir.
There are other things on my list, some vague some specific. But it’s not so much the details that matter. It’s not necessarily about checking things off my version of some bucket list. It’s about connecting with ideas and people who bring me joy. I may not run a 4:30 marathon. The time will not crush me. And the time is not what matters. The training and the race, instead, will bring me in line with my intentions of challenging myself and doing things I love. Maybe I don’t get horseback riding this year, but try my hand at ice fishing instead. Maybe I don’t get to travel to a foreign country or a new state but experience a new town or city or venue within a 100-mile radius of my humble dwelling.
Already I’m off to a smashing start. For the first time, I went to downtown Buffalo to be part of the annual ball drop and fireworks display. It was something new and different, and a smidge out of my comfort zone with the crowds. Give into the kitsch factor (also known as being in the moment) and it was fun, entertaining and a great way to symbolize new beginnings in 2011.