I love a new year. I love a new year like I love starting a new blank journal, the pages pristine and untouched, just waiting for new words and ideas and thoughts and experiences to fill them.
I love the promise of a new year, the feeling of a new start, a blank slate, the excitement of the unknown, that sense that anything can happen, because the future is stretching out tantalizingly before us.
It’s that same feeling you get when that new movie you’ve been waiting months to see flashes the opening credits on the big screen. That feeling as your plane takes off at the start of the vacation you’ve been planning for a year. It’s the promise of the future, the unknown, the anticipation of what’s to come.
It’s been years since I’ve made New Year’s resolutions – I think at some point the countless articles about how they don’t work created a cultural tipping point and they went out of fashion. In previous years I’ve tried choosing words that I want to represent the New Year or setting new year’s “intentions” rather than resolutions.
I’m realizing, though, that at the root of every resolution or intention is the belief that I’m not already enough just as I am, and that something needs to change in my life to make me ok.
Not fit enough, not financially stable enough, not thin enough, not successful enough, not interesting enough, not spiritual enough, not holy enough. The belief that who I am on December 31st is somehow not ok and I need to knuckle down and work harder. I need to exercise more, eat less, work harder, date more, save more money, pray more – and the list goes on – to be enough, to be ok.
This year – this decade – I refuse to let that be my story. I refuse to sign off on the script that I’m not good enough, to join in the “hustle for worthiness” as Brené Brown calls it.
So this year instead of making dozens of resolutions that are about self-improvement and then setting myself up to feel a shame tidal wave when I inevitably don’t keep them, I’m simply resolving to be two things this year: Brave and Kind.
I’m resolving to be brave with my choices. To choose the scary thing when it’s what I want deep down. To choose the risk that may not work out because the alternative is staying stuck, and life is too short and precious and wildly gorgeous for that. Also what if it does work out? How tragic to never try. There are about a million clichés about how nothing worth having every came from a comfort zone, and I want to live into that truth this year.
I’m resolving to be brave with my words. To match my insides to my outsides, to tell the truth and be authentic and honest instead of smoothing over the reality of who I am in the million ways society has taught me to smile away the rough and uncomfortable edges. I want to speak plainly and honestly and lovingly, to trust that the people who love me can handle the truth and the people who can’t sit with my authentic self probably aren’t my people, and that’s ok. I resolve to be messy and human and imperfect because in my experience that gives other people permission to be their own messy, imperfect, beautiful selves, and that is the birthplace of true connection and life and love.
I’m resolving to be kind. To others, yes, absolutely, but perhaps even more importantly to myself. Like so many of us, I am my own harshest critic, and sometimes when I catch the words I say to myself about myself I wince. I recently went for a run and my first thought when I was done was “not fast enough.” That breaks my heart. I want my self-talk to be what I would say to a friend or one of my Girls on the Run girls. “Wow, you ran 6 miles, that is an amazing accomplishment! I’m so proud of you for doing something so hard and sticking with it. What a gift that you are healthy and your lungs and heart and legs all work and you are physically able to run – so many people can’t run and they would love the opportunity. Way to celebrate the precious gift of health!”
I’ve gotten better at recognizing and stopping the toxic self-talk over the years (#thankstherapy!) but it’s still my default tape too often, and I’m really, really over it. Think of the mental space I could free up if stopped beating myself up – a Marie Kondo for the mind!
I’ve also noticed that the more kind and compassionate I am with myself, the more kind and compassionate I’m able to be with other people. When I’m holding myself to a razor thin margin of error, I’m so terrified of slipping off the tightrope that there’s not much room for me to extend grace to others to be human and make mistakes, too.
Judgement – of self and others- is narrow, tight, confining. Grace is expansive, open, all-encompassing, light. I want a life marked by more grace, more compassion, more patience – with myself just as much as with others.
Everything I want to be and everything I want to experience this year – this decade – flows from those two big ideas: Bravery and Kindness.
Those feel like resolutions worth keeping.