I’m not one of those people who like making New Years resolutions. At least, not in the traditional sense. Because resolutions are often goals in disguise and my relationship with goal setting is a bit sordid. Although I think it’s incredibly beneficial to have a direction in life goals can sometimes represent dangerously unrealistic expectations we create for ourselves based on what we want in the future. If the future doesn’t match up, which often it doesn’t, then according to our goals, we are failures. But we can’t actually see into the future, so why do we do this to ourselves time and time again?
I came to understand my distaste for traditional goal setting when I started working on Pressbound full-time. I needed a clear direction with the business so therefor I set very clear goals for the year, month, and week. Whether they were SMART goals (those super corporate-y sounding goals that are supposed to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused and Time bound) or re-labeled as “intentions” that were based on a set of core values—I always underestimated how much time, effort or focus it would take to accomplish what I wanted. I would get too hung up in planning mode, trying to figure out all the actionable steps it would take to achieve my goals, imagining what I wanted the future to look like instead of spending my time in the present moment, growing, experiencing, and creating quality work or relationships. If I wasn’t planning for the future then I was analyzing the past successes and failures. Literally. In my notebook I would split the pages down the middle and list my progress and set backs for each intention for the month, quarter and year. It was definitely good to keep track of what I did and where I was going but it also made me feel completely overwhelmed and miserable.
So last year I decided to quit goals, intentions, resolutions or whatever else you’d like to call them. But I also didn’t want to flail around aimlessly either. Instead, I chose one thing to focus on throughout every aspect of my life for the year. And although I never declared it in a blog post or even talked about it much out loud, 2015 was the year of mindfulness. I had no idea what that would entail when the year started and gave myself the freedom to explore this concept in whatever way made sense. As a result I became more mindful of the foods I consumed, the way I treated my body and mind, how I ran my business (and chose to take a break), the way I earned an income (and started a new job) and my relationships with friends and family. It influenced the books I read, the media I consumed, and how I interacted on social media (a lot less!). This made a huge impact in my overall physical and mental well being and left me feeling much fuller by the end of 2015.
Now that is what a resolution should be all about!
So this year I’m going to try it again and declare 2016 the year of creative exploration. Like last year, I’m choosing to leave it open and not really define what this means clearly for now. It is an exploration after all and I don’t want to be rigid about it. So far I’m noticing it influence the way I cook and what I’m reading (hello Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert!).
Maybe this is a bit too whimsical or vague a method to accomplish much of anything for other people. I prefer things to happen organically, knowing that I’m present and growing as a person throughout the process rather than putting my head down, aiming straight ahead for a goal and not looking up until I accomplished that specific something or other in the future that may not add much value to my life anyway.
Because life is all about the process, not the end result.
So, ask yourself, if you had to chose one value to live fully in every aspect of your life in 2016, something that would help you grow and feel more present, what would it be? Now go make that your resolution!