Today is the first day of a new you. Isn’t it? January 1st, 2018. It’s a brand new year. New year, new you. That is the promise that you made yourself. Wasn’t it? That despite the fact that you woke up on yet another January 1st with a champagne hangover and remnants of glittery makeup down your cheek that this year would be different.
New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us swear them off – citing sources that tell us that most of us will fall back into old habits by February. These people tell us we should be bettering ourselves every day of the year. They tell us that New Year’s Day is just another day. For others of us, a new year is an exciting invitation. For them, the new year is a chance for a fresh start. New Year’s Day, for them, is a day when change feels just a little more tangible, when their motivation is just a little stronger. I fall into the latter category.
I love the new year. I know that every moment is a chance to be better than you were the moment before but there is something about setting goals for the new year that feels more productive. I know that change is just as possible in March or October as it is in January, just as change on a Wednesday is just as possible as change on a Monday, but there is something about a new week or a new year, that’s more exciting, more promising. And each year, as we move deeper and deeper into December, as the holidays come and go, I start thinking about my resolutions for the year to come. The few days before January 1st each year are spent preparing myself for this new lifestyle I am sure to carry out this year. This year, I tell myself, I’ll finally get it right.
As I reflected on my year these past few days I focused on all of the things that had gone wrong. All of the things I needed to fix in 2018, all my messiness that needed tidying. Sure, I thought about the things I had accomplished, the things that had gone right, the things I was proud of, but dwelling on that seemed unproductive. Focus – I told myself. Focus on the things that went wrong and figure out how to fix them this year.
Figure out what you need to do to be perfect this year and do it.
Writing it out, it sounds harsh. I realized this year that I was going about New Year’s Resolutions all wrong. I have spent past years bullying myself into my goals and feeling overwhelmingly disappointed in myself when I fall short. I have spent years telling myself that I would get it right in the new year by convincing myself that the past year had been done completely wrong. That last year was a bust.
There has to be a middle ground. There has to be a way to set goals for the new year without discrediting the entire previous year. This year I hope to find that middle ground of striving to be better and remembering that better does not mean perfect. Perfect is not possible. It is okay to have unanswered questions. It is okay to not have everything together all the time. It is okay to be messy, to need fixing. It’s a part of life. Imperfection is an irrefutable condition of existence. There is beauty in your questions and in your imperfections. And embracing your messiness, embracing your failures, does not mean that you’re moving backwards.
I was reading Mark Manson’s blog awhile back and came across his article titled Happiness Is Not Enough. In the opening paragraphs he describes a person he calls “Jon” and says that Jon appeared to be “a person who somehow managed to walk between the raindrops”. I think at one point or another we have all strived to be Jon. I think at one point or another we have made New Year’s Resolutions with the hope of becoming Jon – someone who has it all figured out. My question this year though, is why anyone would want to walk in between the raindrops when they could dance in the rain? Sure it might be nice to skate through life without a care in the world but wouldn’t you rather face adversity and win? To be challenged and grow stronger? Wouldn’t the year be better if you gave yourself the wiggle room to fail? Would it not make more sense to go into the new year knowing you’ll get rained on but that you will rise to the occasion?
Wouldn’t you rather dance in the rain?
I made resolutions this year but for maybe the first time ever I am going into the year fully acknowledging that they probably won’t play out the way I intend them to. It’s not that I’m aiming lower this year, it’s just that I am being more honest with myself. I know that life will get in the way this year. This year I will still have questions, things will still need fixing, and things will still be messy. And that is okay. It’s still going to be a great year. This year will not be perfect. Nothing ever is. And if two weeks or a month or two months from now you aren’t where you thought you would be, aren’t where your New Year’s Resolutions promised you would be, that is okay. It can still be a great year if you choose to dance in the rain.