Already Ready to Leave Your Resolutions Behind?

Photo courtesy of  Weekly Snaps

Photo courtesy of Weekly Snaps

I originally wrote and published this story last year on New Year's Day. As I looked back at it, I felt as if maybe it was time to share it again on the new website. Thanks for taking a second look. -Jeannie

I try to deny it, but I can’t. I love a new start. From a new year to a school year to opening a crisp new journal (which happened this morning), it gives me a thrill. As I a cracked open the new journal, I began to wonder why we seem so eager to turn over a new leaf?

I’m not alone in this passion for a new start. Forty-five percent of Americans usually make resolutions, typically in one of these four areas: self-improvement, weight, money, and relationships, according to Statistic Brain. But, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why are we so eager to run away from our old life and into a new, better, brighter tomorrow?

In his book, The Four AgreementsDon Miguel Ruiz sheds light on why, as humans, we might be in search for a reprieve from the past:

How many times do we pay for one mistake? The answer is thousands of times. We make a mistake, we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves. If justice exists, then that was enough; we don’t need to do it again. But every time we remember, we judge ourselves again, we are guilty again, and we punish ourselves again, and again, and again.
— Don Miguel Ruiz

But not on New Year’s Day.

No, on this day, we are offered a free pass to forget yesterday in hopes of what we’ll create in the New Year as we move judgment-free into tomorrow. And with all that freed up space in our minds, our hearts and our suitcases where we carry our “baggage,” what do we do? We fill it up quickly, with lofty ideas of the perfect weight, the perfect job, bank account balance, home, relationship… the list goes on and on.

Just take a look at the Top 3 Resolutions for 2014, according to the same study:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less, save more

We are in such a hurry to fill the space offered by the grace of a New Year, a fresh start. This grace we rarely grant ourselves or others. A place where misgivings are forgotten and we are offered a clean slate. Hurriedly, we fill it up with so many resolutions that a sense of failure is certainly only days away. Did you know that only 8% of people who set resolutions are successful in achieving them?

With our prescription for a perfect future in hand, along with the high-likelihood of failure, we feel more like ourselves. And that’s what we do, as humans, we consistently choose what’s familiar, rather than risk the discomfort of moving towards what may actually bring a brighter tomorrow.

But there’s good news. It’s a New Year.

And we could choose to do it differently. We could challenge ourselves to embrace the wonderfully uncomfortable feeling of all that space created by the grace of a new year. We could leave our hearts, minds and lists of resolutions free and clear. Instead of rushing to fill the void, we could just be present – without the reminders of past mistakes or the perfectionist vision of our future.

What if, instead, we used all that free space as a buffer between what we REALLY want and what society is telling us that we want: a slimmer body, a fatter wallet, and a new love?

I’m going to ask a question now, but don’t answer it. I repeat, don’t answer this question – just ask it:

What do YOU want from your life?

Answering it leads to all those resolutions. Instead, ask the question, tuck it in your pocket and become a curator of moments. Choose wisely moment-by-moment, day-by-day to invest in the experience of your life rather than a list of achievements. Fill the spaces slowly and with smaller commitments that bring you joy and, over time, results.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that I’m one of the 47% that usually makes a resolution. In spite of the data that indicates my failure at achieving it, I simply cannot resist the idea of a new start. This year, I’m resolving to become a curator of moments and let go of any prescription for picture-perfect future.