“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” — Karen Lamb
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.
Not-doing resolutions has been a time-honored tradition for me; I stopped making them in my 20s and have held fast to that non-practice for decades. I always felt like I was setting myself up for failure, and in recent years I’ve discovered the reason for that: Most New Year’s resolutions focus on things people want to “fix,” perceived (or real) flaws they want to correct. Resolutions usually focus on shoulds:
I should eat healthier food/lose 20 pounds.
I should exercise at least three times per week.
I should quit smoking/drinking/complaining.
I should find a better job leave that partner find love become more spiritual be more compassionate save more money spend less be less judgmental domorehavemorebemore…
Yeah. There are good reasons we don’t keep our resolutions. They’re suffocating, demeaning, self-defeating. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Don’t should all over yourself!”
But there is still value in wanting to grow, in stretching for things just out of arm’s reach. There’s still beauty in becoming, evolving, unfolding — as long as it doesn’t start with should. Because should starts with unworthiness, and unworthiness grinds to a halt all the momentum our desires might otherwise fuel. If we start from our own inherent worthiness, if we believe we deserve what we want for ourselves — not from a place of entitlement, but from the belief that it’s all right to be happy — then all we need to do is begin.
Starting today, I’ll have more fun, smile more.
(I want to feel happier, freer, kinder.)
Starting today, I’ll wake up to watch more sunrises.
(I want to experience the wonder of the start of a new day.)
Starting today, I’ll write a little bit of that book that’s inside me.
(I want to experience the challenge of telling this story, sharing it.)
The difference is qualitative. It’s about knowing what we want to feel, then figuring out ways to create and support that feeling.
And so: Starting today, I’ll note with gratitude what I already have so that I feel the abundance in my life. I’ll define what I want to experience, not what I want to own, so that I feel the joy of discovery. I’ll make more time for stillness and reflection so that I feel more deeply connected with the experiences I have. I’ll look for ways to be more fully present so that I feel less stressed about the future and more energized by the moment.
Starting today, I’ll stop wishing I’d started yesterday and take whatever small steps I can toward living the life with which I’ve been gifted.