I really don't make New Year's resolutions, but I was put on the spot by my youngest sister on New Year's Day. I had called her to wish her a Happy New Year and then she asked what my resolution was going to be. I blurted out the first thing that came to me--Stop Drinking Diet Coke. The time of this resolution was 3:15 pm. By 4:45pm, less than an hour and a half later, I was drinking a glass of Diet Coke.
It's not that I don't have will power-- or maybe it is--but rather that this wasn't really a true resolution for me. My younger sister bought Diet Coke for me, especially, for New Year's dinner. I didn't want to seem rude and not drink it. There is always a rationale for breaking resolutions. This one fell in the "I'm just being polite" category.
Later when my two sisters were talking on the phone, my lack of will power came up in conversation. According to them I had made a pact and then broke it. I have no will power, I cave in too easily.
This may be true on the surface, but what I really did was follow my true resolution.
I have one tradition that I follow every New Year's. I read a travel book. This year's book is South: the story of Shackleton's 1914-1917 expedition, by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton. I find the metaphor of Shackleton's ship the "Endurance" trapped in the ice floes of Antarctica eerily similar to my feelings of entrapment in these last few weeks.
I have gotten into the habit, the rut, of saying "No" to everything. In the six months I have been laid off, I have turned into a bit of a hermit. I have not felt like doing anything. Those first heady days of freedom, of having all the time in the world has fallen away and left me with the feeling of frozen suspension. That feeling of entrapment has manifested itself in unexpected ways. The main one is that my first reaction is to say "No" to everything first. I have gotten used to saying "No" because it is easier. No demands are placed upon me when I say no. I do not have put myself out there, I do not have to engage. I can protect myself. No harm will come to me, if I say no.
I don't make New Year's resolutions. I find that I make resolutions throughout the year, as the need arises. I don't need the hoopla of New Year's to remind me to make more restrictive, self-deprivation demands upon myself. I tend to treat New Year's as a time for making wishes.
I wish that I would go to bed earlier, get up earlier, write more, read more, watch less television. These are my wishes for the New Year. I look at the New Year as a time for realigning priorities.
At the end of the free-for-all that is the Holiday season, priorities get pushed to the back burner as spending time with family, those sugar cookies that your sister only bakes at Christmastime, the hectic pace of shopping, the joy of wrapping and unwrapping present-- all of these wonderful, magical things take precedence over the priorities you have previously set. The New Year is a time to realign priorities.
I don't think in terms of New Year's Resolutions, but rather in New Year's Introspection. The New Year is a time to reassess the past, find out what is working and, more importantly, what is not. The New Year brings with it a chance for rediscovery. A chance to put those things that matter most to you first.
New Year's is not about deprivation--like my resolution to Stop Drinking Diet Coke-- or about the self-loathing that comes when a resolution fails you, but rather a time to set priorities for the New Year.
Yes, I have broken my one and only resolution already. But I am okay with that. The New Year is about larger goals than what I eat or drink. Or in this case what I don't eat or drink. The New Year's goals are about fulfilling promises to yourself, realigning priorities, finding your true path. In that spirit, my goal this year is to start saying "Yes" more often. I want to break the ice that has formed around me, trapping me, sheltering me. I want to change my life. I want to change how I live my life. I want to start the New Year by saying "Yes!"
Yes to new adventures, yes to new experiences, yes to living.