Let me describe something to you, and imagine this plan is being applied to someone you love…
Step 1. Identify things I don’t like about myself. Things I think I fail at, that I don’t do well or that I don’t do well enough.
Step 2. Make an arbitrary decision about how to make that failing a focus in my life.
Step 3. Make an equally arbitrary decision about how to eradicate that failing from my life. Forever.
Step 4. Do something to address that failing on a schedule that probably doesn’t match the way I actually live my life.
Step 5. Feel pretty good about it for a short time (maybe days, maybe weeks), but also maybe not. Maybe feel shitty about not succeeding at the previous 4 steps.
Step 6. Totally forget about the plan or obsess about the plan or get angry about the plan.
Step 7. Feel bad about not living up to the plan, add that to the list of things I don’t like about myself.
Step 8. Repeat January 1 of next year.
Why do we do this to ourselves?? Why are we as a culture so obsessed with self-improvement that we set ourselves up for constant failure with negative reinforcement, unclear, non-specific plans (or super-specific, unachievable plans) and a general lack of love for ourselves and everyone else?
As a movement teacher, I hear A LOT of this kind of talk in January.
“I need to get back to class. I’ve been so BAD over the holidays!”
“I need to start watching what I eat. I was so BAD over the holidays!”
“I have to get my sleep back on track, I was really BAD about my bedtime over the holidays.”
This year, let it be resolved that there will be no negative resolutions!
I do, however, love the idea of time to reflect and to set my intentions for the coming year. Lyn Christian, founder of SoulSalt Inc, shared a wonderful series of questions to ask as I reflect on the year past and the year to come. I included it in last year’s post, when things were pretty stressful in the world, and it was a helpful way to choose joy and persistence as my framework for the year.
My daughter and I spent an afternoon going over the list to choose our themes and we returned to it a couple of times over 2017. We will make a pot of tea and do it again tomorrow!
Here’s the list (with a couple of my answers for this year).
Completing and Remembering The Previous Year:
What was your biggest triumph this past year?
What was the smartest decision you made this past year? To give myself time and space for spontaneous growth and to stop rushing things!
What one word best sums up and describes this past years experiences?
What was the greatest lesson you learned in the past year? Patience
What was the most loving service you performed this past year? I spent time helping my sister, who I love, with her twins, who I also love!
What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in this past year?
What are you most happy about completing this past year?
Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life this past year?
What was the biggest risk you took this past year?
What was the biggest surprise this past year?
What important relationship improved the most in the past year?
What compliment would you liked to have received this past year?
What compliment would you liked to have given in the past year?
What else do you need to do or say to be complete with the results of the past year?
Creating A (Bad Ass) New Year:
What would you like to be your greatest triumph in the coming year?
What advice would you like to give yourself this coming year? Create what you love!
What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in the coming year?
What would you be most happy about completing this new year?
What major indulgence are you willing to experience this coming year?
What would you like to change about yourself in the coming year?
What are you looking forward to learning this new year?
What do you think will be your greatest risk in this coming year?
What are you most committed to changing about your work and improving during this year? Adding to my online presence in a consistent and sustainable, less scattershot way.
What is one undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in the coming year?
What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in your life this year?
Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving this new year?
What one word would you like to have as your theme in the new year? Creation
(Borrowed from Robin Blanc Mascari)
To set you off on your journey, here is a list of possible words you could explore:
Joy (I used that last year)
Persistence (I used that last year too. Couldn’t limit myself to one!)
Creation (I’m happy to share!)
Imagine having one of those beautiful words (or one of your own of course) as a lens through which you examine your choices and actions. Everything becomes an opportunity to help you grow and inhabit your self, your body and the world in a way that honours you and your theme of the year. No self-punishment or judge-
Look at the difference:
Resolution Self: I said I was going to go to the gym 5 times a week (even though I never do that and don’t really want to) and I didn’t! I am failing, so I might as well just give it up. Clearly, I have no self-control and I’m never going to get it together. (sinks down into sofa feeling sad and frustrated)
Theme Self who chose Creation: I want to do something that gets me moving but I don’t like the gym. How do I create something that achieves that? Oh! I’m going to invite some friends to go dancing! I love dancing, I love music, I will create energy and community. Awesome! (saunters off feeling great about self and friends)
What word is going to represent your choices in 2018? Post a comment below, email me back, give me a call, hang around at the studio and have tea… I would love to know where you go with this!
As we move into another turn around the sun, I wish you all peace and love, energy and resilience, courage and fierce conviction. Happy new year!
Do you want to keep chatting in the new year? Subscribe to the newsletter for the blog, the freebie videos and resource library and the latest updates on teaching cool stuff. You can also hit me up with a request to join the closed Facebook group! xo
(Photo by Cristian Escobar on Unsplash)