I could start today’s post by writing, “this is my last post of 2020.”
But then I’ll write another next week, and the week after, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s another Wednesday and another blog.
Of all the species on the planet, humans are the only ones who give meaning to the flip of the calendar from December 31 to January 1. The date doesn’t align with any natural event, like a solstice, so the only significance, really, is cultural.
This isn’t to say this is a bad thing, but it does put it into perspective, this annual setting of goals and marking of time.
I think it’s important for us to have these milestones, a cue to reflect and think ahead. There’s also something nice about doing it all together, knowing nearly the entire world is celebrating the same thing, which when you think about it is incredibly rare.
I’ve never been a big resolution person—I tend to make goals and evaluate as they come up for me. But, I do spend time reflecting around the new year, and some time dreaming about what I want the next year to look like. These dreams become the big ideas towards which I can set smaller goals throughout the year. If 2020 taught us nothing else, it’s how to be flexible with our goals and make sure we do spend time thinking about the big picture of what our underlying values are, so that when the world turns upside down, we can still have a core set of principles to guide us through the storm.
For example, if I’d set a goal of running a certain number of miles or losing weight, I wouldn’t have given myself the space to adapt when training was out of the picture. Instead, thinking about the importance of moving my body and nourishing myself in order to stay physically and mentally healthy and wanting exercise to be a joy rather than a burden, allowed me to take things more in stride when stress and anxiety made a strict regimen too much for me.
So, resolutions aren’t a bad thing, per se. I can speak for the United States when I say that we’re a culture that prioritizes the individual over the collective.
And so resolutions become another way of hacking ourselves, as individuals, into a better life. Resolutions seem to mirror the trappings of capitalism and supremacy—those external “things” you think you need in order to be happy (money, beauty, house, spouse, kids, career, status, fame)—and then don’t help us when we either can’t achieve or realize we’re not happy when we do achieve them.
We throw money at our resolutions by joining gyms or buying products. Then, when we fail, it’s our fault and guess what there is another product or person that you can pay to fix your failures so that you can succeed next time. But guess what? You’ll fail again (because the system is set up that way), and so the vicious circle continues.
My hope for the future is that we can collectively reflect and dream about what a better year would be for the human race—start there, and then define the individual actions we can take towards that resolution.
Maybe that means empowering yourself and others to love our bodies and treat them with care and love. Maybe that means growing your business in order to make a difference to a community. Maybe that means publishing your book in order to inspire others and make life beautiful. Maybe that means reaching out to friends and family more often to find support. Maybe that means getting more involved with local politics and reading more newspaper articles.
If we start from a place that is bigger than each of us individually, our resolutions become less of a forced metric of “before” and “after,” and instead a way to lift each other up.
After all, none of us individually need improvement. We are all perfectly imperfect regardless of how many books we read or miles we run or money we save. But the structures of our society could use improvement. Let’s start there, together.
Happy New Year, friends.
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