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Resolutions are for Screens
and RESOLVE is a carpet cleaner
Hello, Happy New Year, 2023, blah blah blah. In the spirit of positivity, to set the new year off RIGHT, let’s talk about…
Something I despise!
If you’re anything like me, the past two weeks have been a bombardment of messages, newsletters, Facebook posts, Instagram stories all about NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS, RESOLUTIONS, RESOLUTIONS.
Even if you didn’t post your “resolutions” publicly, my guess is you’ve thought about what changes you’d like to make for the New Year. I have too. It’s been ingrained in us to do this. It’s a tradition! A “This Is What We Do” every December 31st! Where we think about our lives and get READY! To CHANGE!
Those of us who are frequently tuned into the Radio of Self-Betterment ™ are ardent connoisseurs of this type of input all year long. For my own part, I consume books, podcasts, and content centered on exploration of the Self like I consume my kid’s Halloween candy. (Another similarity between these two things: I do both in secret while they are sleeping).
Through these channels, I’ve heard chatter of a different movement, the SUBVERSION of such “New Year Resolutions.” According to this school of thought, to set resolutions means you are buying into the idea that you’re currently operating from a deficit. In other words, to want to change something means there’s something that needs changing in the first place. To these people, This Is Simply Not True!
To this I say…
Just as with the “Resolute Resolution-ers”, this methodology is also bologna.
AND THEN! There are those who question the idea of a “New Year” at all… the ones who say that January 1st is just another day; that to treat it any differently is merely an arbitrary grab for meaning. “Why not April 17th? Why not December 2nd? Don’t you people understand that “dates” are just the whimsy of CAPITALISM? *SCOFF*
At this juncture, I am picturing a dog being beckoned by multiple owners at one time: perhaps recent ex’s who both want custody of the family pet. They call poor Fido at the same time, whistle, call out a jaunty “here, boy!”, and the dog gets confused; doesn’t know which way to turn.
People who spout Knowledge ™ packaged in a specific methodology or system of beliefs are all very similar. Their “knowledge” in and of itself will inevitably contradict someone else’s “knowledge,” and they are all beckoning us from the sidelines. They are all trying to get us to go to them when called, to pledge our loyalty to their way of thinking. (That is not to say that all ways of thinking are inherently created equal. Absolutely not. But we are not going into that in this particular newsletter.)
So what happens? We end up feeling confused, just like poor Fido, who doesn’t know which direction to turn.
And then what are we left with? As us Regular Joes and Josephines stumble into what is supposed to be the “new beginning” of 2023 (while most of us are simultaneously sporting an intense emotional hangover from the amount of “family time” and needing a break from our break), how do we know how to proceed? Here we are on January 1st, 2nd, 3rd… gearing up for the next 360-ish days where we will attempt to Do It All: Embrace The New but still go back to our Old jobs and Regular lives and burn our calendars because this will somehow make us more in tune with the natural world and consume more healthy fats and decrease our caffeine intake and increase our productivity at work by 1000% while petitioning for a four-day-work-week and take up a hobby that will turn into a multimillion dollar business all while earning our doctorates and STAYING POSITIVE at all times and parenting the next Albert Einstein.
The calendar pages all fall off the wall. We make our way through 2023!
THERE WE ARE: a year from now, a little older, maybe in a new top with a new phone, and having done none of these things, not really. So what do we do? We gear up for 2024 because THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT. We set NEW New Year Resolutions. THIS TIME IT WILL STICK!
So, given what I’ve just said, we are essentially left with two options, two methodologies to govern our year:
Yes, we should make changes
No, we should not make changes
But both of these “ways forward” are not, in fact, ways forward, because this is a false dichotomy. You see, Dear Reader, every single thing that we are told to do, the traditions we grew up honoring, all of the ways in which we try to make changes in ourselves or intentionally REJECT the idea that we have changes to make… both of these ideologies have something in common:
they always place the focus on the end goal.
I WILL IMPROVE means that we will meet a goal of improvement and I WILL NOT IMPROVE means that we will meet a goal of specifically, intentionally continuing the status quo. Yes, maintaining the status quo is also an end goal.
Having objectives is not a detrimental thing in and of itself. We certainly need to be able to set concrete goals if we are to make something of ourselves and explore what life has to offer us. If we did not set our sights on the future, if we had no aspirations, we would all turn into potatoes.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be a potato.
I am not going to sit here and profess that I HAVE THE WAY FORWARD, because if I did, I would merely be adding my voice to calling poor Fido, and I’m not trying to do that to you.
All I’m proposing is to think about what it means to move the focus from intending to achieve a goal, to being INTENTION-AL (see what I did there?) about the process, instead, whether your ultimate goal is to achieve something new, or your goal is to NOT achieve anything specific.
Here’s a weird little graphic for you:
For visual people like me, pretend the pink Starburst below represents emphasis of intention. When it rests on the RESULT, the result is our focus, our reward.
This is how most of us live our lives: thinking about the future. The house we can buy once we save up the down payment, the look on our boss’s face when we are promoted above them, the 5 carat diamond on our finger when we FINALLY get engaged, the pants we keep in our closet that are two sizes too small because I’M GONNA FIT INTO THESE AGAIN AND LOOK SO FRIGGIN’ HOT, DAMMIT.
The end goal is THE THING.
But now let’s shift the Starburst to “Doing the thing.”
What does this do? This makes the process the reward, not the result. The result can still be achieved, but the pleasure and the intention behind something is actually DOING the something, not what you’re going to eventually attain.
It’s like that quote, the one featured on Pinterest boards the world over:
However cloying this quote may be, there is some truth to it.
By focusing on DOING THE THING instead of on the RESULT OF THE THING, we are living our lives with more intention by default. We are more present, we are more focused, we are more mindful of where we are spending our time and who we are spending it with.
Everyone wants to share their take on this new year, but MAYBE it’s not about “NEW YEAR NEW YOU” at all. Or hell, maybe it is.
Whichever way forward you’re choosing and however you kick off this year--To RESOLVE or NOT TO RESOLVE, THAT IS THE QUESTION--or even if you’re rejecting the idea of a New Year in totality and burning your clothes and moving to the wilderness, when we focus more on intentionality instead of the end goal, what ripples are created?
What “GOALS” are you setting for yourself this year? What does it look like when you shift your Starburst to your process, instead?
Alla prossima, tutti!
Love, light, and sugar rushes,
If this writing made you chuckle, or made you hang your head in exasperation, or made you DO ANYTHING AT ALL, consider sharing it with someone!
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