It’s a New Year! Resolutions are flying fast and furious. People are flocking to the gyms or to buy a Peloton. New gratitude journals have been opened, classes signed up for, and subscriptions to healthy meal plans bought. And all of that is wonderful. New chapters are exciting, the energy of change can be exhilarating. But what if it doesn’t work out? What if a month from now you’ve slipped back into all your old habits and you realize… nothing’s changed?
My newest favorite phrase is “Pursue passionately but hold lightly.” Dr. Steven Hayes said it in one of the Being Well podcasts, and I’ve been using it (probably too much) ever since. Why? Because if that isn’t a phrase to get you through life I don’t know what is.
I’ve been really excited about 2023. Throughout December I set about planning some very realistic, attainable, smart goals for myself and my family, both personally and professionally. Jan 1 was the day it would all begin! Throughout the holiday I waited with such anticipation to get back home from visiting family in NH so that I could begin the new chapter. And then what happened? Biscuits.
My husband and I have long intended to get a dog, even before our son turned out to be as obsessed with them as I am. We were planning to get one next Christmas, but have kept our eye out just in case something came along we couldn’t resist. Whelp, it happened. Too cute to handle 9 week old Bernese Mountain Dog puppies. For a multitude of reasons, we went “just to see them”, and 24 hours later Biscuits joined our family.
Most of those plans of mine? Out the window. Gone in a puff of fluffy adorableness. I had my moment of meltdown, of incredible frustration. And then I took a deep breath and said “ok”, and began to pivot. And that’s why I’m writing this newsletter- to remind you all that Life Happens. Sometimes we get a curveball that we voluntarily choose, is super sweet even though it pees on the floor, and brings joy on the regular. Sometimes we get the more difficult kind- loosing a loved one, unexpected career changes; health concerns. And really that’s where the rubber meets the road- in those moments where all the plans and goals and intentions you have are met with a curveball. That’s when you get to decide how you want to move forward.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” Abraham Lincoln
When we “fail” at our resolutions, it is so important to remind yourself that it is not YOU failing, it’s either the uncontrollable winds of life making you need to adjust your sails, or the structures in place to support attaining your goal were faulty in some way. It sounds like semantics, but how you speak to yourself about it actually matters a great deal. “I’m failing” hits your subconscious differently than “Something about my plan isn’t working, let me figure out what it is.” The only failure here is if you don’t learn, pivot, and move forward- pursue passionately– your original intention. Hold the process lightly. If you hold it too tightly, you eliminate the flexibility that is so often necessary for us to succeed in any endeavor.
Most importantly… don’t forget that life is meant to be enjoyed. All these goals we set- if we hate every minute of them, of course they won’t be sustainable! We are designed to move towards pleasure and away from pain. So you said you were going to exercise for an hour every day and by the end of that hour you’re miserable and you stay miserable. Stop it! Just stop it! Shift, switch to doing 30 minutes that maybe you have to push through but at the end you feel good and positive. Same with healthy food choices… if you take every ounce of what you enjoy out of your meals, what is the point of eating?! Add in something that’s better for you, even if it’s just for one meal a day to begin with. So you want to get up at 5am so you can get things done first thing… well if you’re used to waking up at 7am that’s a big shift to go for right out of the gate. How about gradually changing it, so that you don’t just give up Week 1? If something isn’t working- stop, figure out the pain point, and change what you’re doing so that you can pursue your goals passionately with joy.
As for me? I’m figuring out a new plan this week. Seeing exactly how much I need to shift of what I’d intended. Letting go of a lot of “shoulds”. And soaking up every moment of watching my son play with his puppy.
Happy New Year!