with the remnants of her life,
collected from all her past years.
In front of her was an empty canvas.
She used her resolve to cut,
and her determination as the glue to
to follow the plan sketched out by her passion.
With a hint of excitement, she began again.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a resolution is defined as “an answer or solution to something.” Resolv-ing is “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.” New Years Resolutions, therefore, imply that we are solving or writing the answers to the problems that were left behind from the past year. That’s not entirely helpful, is it? After all, we still have to do something with those answers!
Last week, my friend Aubrey and I sat together and reflected on our past year. Initially, I thought we would create our New Years Resolutions. However, when we invited another good friend of ours to the meeting, her comment was, “Oh, I never make resolutions. It’s because I never accomplish them.”
Aubrey’s reply to this was, “Well, they’re not really Resolutions. I think of them more as year goals.”
It made me think of another conversation that I had with someone a while back. He told me, “Don’t make goals. Otherwise, when you don’t reach them, it destroys your self esteem.”
So, if we don’t accomplish Resolutions or goals, then why make them? What are we doing them for? And, if we don’t make them, then how do we move forward? I’m afraid that I don’t have the answer to these questions, because I’m such a goal-oriented person. I think the word “resolution” is problematic, though, because it means that once we write down the answer, we don’t have to do anything more. ie. “My problem is that I am heavily in debt.” Resolution: “Get rich in 2016.” See? Where’s the how? The why? The when?
Maybe, instead of a list of Resolutions, or even goals, we start with a “To Do” list. At least, that’s how I see it. I do To Do lists every day, and the act of crossing off things on my list motivates me to move forward. The other nice thing about a To Do list is that I write little “sub” to dos” on it – smaller, doable steps that help me get the big TO DO accomplished.
For example, one of my big 2016 TO DOs is “Get Comps Finished.” I can’t just leave it that way, though. Beneath this TO DO is a sub-list – a timeline of when to get things done – personal deadlines as I reach certain milestones. For example, “Finish outline by 1/4. Begin writing on 1/5. Finish intro by 1/7. Turn in draft by 1/31 LATEST.” Having a plan that breaks things down means that not only can I accomplish things in smaller steps (without feeling overwhelmed), but it also means I’ve accomplished SOMETHING, even if (and that’s a big if) I don’t finish my draft by the 31st. At least I know I’m making progress. For me, making progress motivates me to help me finish. It also solves the dilemma of, “What if I don’t get to my goal? It’ll hurt my self esteem.” Making progress, even if it’s a little bit, says, “I’m doing something about it. Here’s what I’m doing!”
As I write this, I also think about Dr. Omid Safi‘s warning about “doing” things all the time. In his blog post, “The Disease of Being Busy,” he warns us that the “I’m so busy” state of being isn’t exactly healthy. This post spoke to me, because I’m ALWAYS busy. I’m the type of person whose mind doesn’t shut off. In his post, Dr. Safi reminds us that humaning happens when we are fully present for both ourselves and for others. Self examination, transformation, and self actualization do not happen when we are answering the mountain of emails in our inbox. It comes during the quiet moments of meditation and contemplation, or in those spaces of when we have deep, rich conversations with another human. Instead of being a “doer,” we should think about simply being. …and being doesn’t happen without paying conscious attention to our hearts, and the hearts of others. In blog, he says to ask (and pay attention to) how our hearts are doing.
When I added this to my annual To Do list, I realized that my list suddenly became something different. Instead of Resolutions, goals, or even To Dos, my list now includes, “Things I must never, ever forget. Thinks I must remember to do often, and every day.”
Today, I added one last thing to my list. It says, “Don’t forget to show love, each and every day.“