There was a time when New Year’s resolutions meant everything to me. This is how it typically played out:
- In December I begin to create a list of goals impossibly long and non-specific
- By mid-January I’m inching toward failure
- February arrives and the goals and aspirations I imagined for myself in December are forgotten
- Guilt ensues
I’m not alone. By February most resolution loving humans have become fickle wrecks, rationalizing all the reasons why the promises we made to ourselves were broken. Why no amount of good intention was enough to realize change.
After many decades of repeating this pattern I decided resolutions were a fools errand and stopped torturing myself. Until now. This year, 2021, is different. I’m not certain why. Perhaps the chaos and commotion of 2020 has left me feeling untethered and the only way to anchor myself in the present is to build a framework for the future.
I’ve read that one of the reasons why our resolve fails after a few short weeks is because the goals we set for ourselves are not specific enough. For instance, it’s not enough for me to tell myself “In 2021 I want to be published.” What does ‘be published’ mean? Do I mean a letter to the editor of my local newspaper or a feature in O Magazine? It’s more helpful for me to set this intention: “In 2021 I want to be published in the Readers Write column of The Sun.” That still may not happen, but the specificity of the intent allows me to create a plan of action that moves me forward toward that goal.
In the past, like many, ‘lose weight’ and it’s sidekick ‘exercise more’ has made an appearance on my list of resolutions. Even when my weight was well in the realm of ‘average’ and I was hitting the magic number of steps. It landed on my list this year but I had to wonder why. And so, it’s been helpful to take time to consider what I actually mean when less weight and more exercise land on the list. It hasn’t taken long for me to realize these goals are really not about weight loss and exercise. They’re about health and wellness. They weren’t about fitting into the embossed leather pencil skirt a friend outgrew and passed on to me. They’re about living life with vibrancy. With clarity. Besides, can you see me teaching yoga in an embossed leather pencil skirt?
So how do I find vibrancy? Where is the clarity I seek?
Last year began with the death of my mother. She was an alcoholic. As was my grandfather. Two months after the local post office lost and then recovered my mother’s ashes (it could only happen to my mom) we shut down and the life we knew became The Before Times. Overnight we were strategizing new coping mechanisms.
My coping mechanism was wine. What became a glass or two on weekends morphed into a couple of glasses on weekend nights and a glass or two over the course of the work week which eventually morphed into a glass or two every night of the week. Every now and again I took a break for a few days – just to prove I could – but the next COVID graph would send me back to the Pinot. The amount I was drinking was more than I should but I was convinced my nightly habit relieved the pressure of coping in the weird time in which we live. And besides, I only poured the Pinot as a nightcap before climbing into bed. When I started climbing into bed at 7:00 PM I had to ask myself, ‘how much drinking is too much drinking?’
And the cheap Pinot was not supporting the vibrancy and clarity I want for my life. And so, here I go, walking into this new, amazing year as a non-drinker. I’d like to say this is permanent but I don’t know if that’s true. I want it to be true but I’m just a humble and flawed yoga teacher. So we’ll see.