In response to an earlier post, a reader asks for:
some elaboration of how you think about the upcoming year for you (personal goals/hopes/plans, etc.).
I tend to get stuck in self-improvement which at my age (71) feels like a toxic gift from the patriarchy. One year awhile back I did proclaim that to the Year of No Self-Improvement, but it is hard for me to conjure up more expansive, positive ‘resolutions.’ Happy New Year to you, and thank you for all of your posts…
I agree that, especially at a time of year when many of us traditionally make resolutions, there can be a lot of internalized and external pressure for us to do the things that society, our families, bosses, etc. think that we “should” do. You “should” be model-thin. You “should” be financially successful. You “should” hit the gym three times a week; cook your family nutritious meals from scratch (and grow some of that food yourself and buy the rest on sale from three different grocery stores); dress sexy for your mate and plan lots of date nights when you leave the kids with a wonderful babysitter and give your mate your undivided, not exhausted from work, not concerned over the sprinkler system or the doctor’s bill, attention; schedule time to connect with friends; lean in at work; get politically involved; invest responsibly; meditate daily . . . .
And we all know that when we’re trying to do something not because we really want to do it but in order to meet someone else’s preconceived notions, we generally give up after a few weeks. Even goals that spring from our deepest personal values and desires have to be reasonable. You can’t do everything at once and you can’t go from beginner to expert in a few short days. If this is the year you’re going to pay off your debt, it’s probably not the year you’re going to re-do your wardrobe and kitchen and it’s probably not the year you’re going to hire babysitters and go on date nights. It’s probably the year you’re going to get a second job.
So what about New Year’s resolutions?
I have a friend who only makes fun ones. Her theory (yes, she’s an Aires) is that the time to quit smoking is the day that your doctor tells you to and the day to start calling your brother more regularly is the day that you realize you haven’t been in touch in a while. But to take advantage of that “fresh new start” energy that comes with the secular New Year, she resolves to do something fun — take boxing classes, learn to play poker, start bellydancing, take her mom to football training camp.
Lots of people use Christine Kane’s Word of the Year to pick a word rather than a specific goal. My practice is to spend the time from September to Yule thinking about what I’ve accomplished, where I am (when I was younger and new to managing my own life, I used to use a wheel ), and what word I might want to choose for the coming secular year (I do some divination around this). I buy a calendar and write in important dates, commitments, conferences, etc. And then, come January 1st, I write a few annual goals and then monthly objectives designed to help me meet those goals.
I don’t know if this helps anyone else, but it’s my system. Also, if you’re older, recently retired, or are considering/planning for retirement, I’ll note that, when I retired, a friend gave me It’s Never to Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron . It’s really not about “beginning again,” but is more of a workbook for dealing with some of the transitions of later life. I found a lot of it helpful and may write a bit more about it in a future post.
Meanwhile, I hope that 2020 is a wonderful year for you, however you approach it.
Picture found here.