How many of you have resolutions planned for tomorrow? Now, be honest. You may not technically have written them down, but I’ve bet you set some goals, formulated some loose parameters for growth and development, or declared passionately, “I’m definitely not doing XXX again!” Am I right?
I think resolutions are crap. Not just because they never seem to work, but because they are always the same: a symbolic effort to be “better” that is never actualized in any meaningful way. It reminds me of my days as a Catholic, giving up chocolate for Lent every year (especially when already on a diet). Looks good on paper, but in the end what difference did it make?
Resolutions seem to focus on issues one isn’t fully invested in changing. Sure, somewhere inside I definitely do think blogging every day would be a great achievement… but I have other things that are at the top of my list (art, eating healthy, keeping meaningful relationships, and working my day job). So why bother making that my “resolution” in the first place? I’d be setting myself up for failure, only to take stock of 2012 in a year and feel disappointment.
Setting New Year’s resolutions are easy. Really they are. Here’s the drill: set up an impossible goal. Give it the college try for a week or a month. Slowly fizzle on the task by February at the latest. Forget you were doing it at all. Six months later remember the goal (bathing suit season anyone?) and decide that you gave up on it because it was too hard to do with your schedule. Resolve to set a better resolution next year.
So now that we have gotten that out of the way….
Why not make 2012 a better 2011? Easiest way to do that: take stock of 2011 and build only on the things that uplifted you. Those are the actions you’ll be thrilled to keep taking in the new year ahead.
Below are a list of questions to answer critically. Be honest. Be specific. But be nice to yourself. We are all works in progress. (Better at writing rather than thinking? Click here to download a word doc so you can print it out and post it on the fridge or something).
I’ll make mine public by jotting down some answers (in italics). Maybe it’ll give you ideas – or if you don’t care you can just breeze past my jabbering to the questions in bold!
What were the biggest personal events of 2011? (Star which of these events were in my control – as compared to those that were due to unforeseen circumstances, i.e. illness.)
Kickstarter fundraiser for Be Nice., six art exhibitions, press interviews, curated my first art exhibition, first major career interview, artist talks and presentations, placed into leadership program at work, made a wonderful new friend, found Yoga, found a terrific community at Collar Works…
What difficult situations presented themselves and how did I handle them?
Major feeling of rejection with not being hired for an amazing job opportunity…. handled it by seeing the positive learning experiences from it, and the excitement from getting so close to being hired. Being pressed for time with a lot of events in a short amount of time…. handled it by asking for help and prioritizing. Also sadly let yoga slip in the process — feeling like I had to choose between my art or my wellness. Not prioritizing my health – but always treating art as THE priority created a conflict there. Didn’t handle so well – yoga stopped. But the desire is still there to rekindle the practice of yoga, so I know I will succeed at some point.
What can I take from these experiences into the future?
Hard work does pay off, but sometimes things aren’t meant to be. Don’t focus on one negative when there are so many positives right in front of me. Physical and mental health must come first before all else. If I can get that close to a great job in this economy, imagine what will happen when the economy recovers and when I have even more experience!
What did I accomplish that I was proud of? Nothing is too small.
Curating a great exhibition with positive feedback/reviews. Using administrative skills at the gallery and seeing new opportunity there. Yoga on a regular basis for three solid months. Successful Kickstarter project (thanks again everyone!!)! Eating salads for dinner twice a week = lost five pounds. Oatmeal for breakfast instead of cereal. Helping make my sister’s wedding special – including embroidering a gift for her. Officiating my friend’s wedding! Making it home to see my family. Sending art opportunities to friends and them successfully getting some of them. Some vacation time alone with my husband to CT – love that ocean over there!
What did I do that I wouldn’t care to do again (because I didn’t enjoy it, because it didn’t go very well…)?
Staying overnight at a hotel in Pennsylvania. Not a fan of that part of I-90 any more! Health insurance appeals – pure nightmare.
What did I do that I would like to do again? How can I build on these experiences?
Go to Iowa. Curate another exhibition (I love doing it – but it is time intensive, so maybe doing it on a smaller scale would be good so I can focus also on my art work). All the art stuff – shows, talks, etc. YOGA! That’s a biggie. I’d like this to become a “lifestyle” for me… but I’m running into road blocks. I’ll need to work on this. Visiting friends in down-state and up-state NY. Get to NYC more often-see more art.
What have I been doing regularly that I would like to continue? This might be smaller things – like flossing every day.
Listening to the news. Reading and advocating on political/social/environmental issues. Flossing daily. Eating healthy and no night-time snacking. Applying skills from leadership training into my life at home and at work.
Personally, how have I evolved over the last year? What were my big “lessons?” Am I still learning them, or do I feel like I am in a place to learn new things this coming year?
I’ve grown to be kinder to myself and like myself a bit more – especially my appearance. I’m a bit more lenient – not so militant about my eating. I feel I am more educated, and learning a great deal about office relationships, about my capabilities (art, professional) and where I’d like to go with them professionally. Still learning. Letting my activities support my interests – being very selective/strategic. Understanding “drama” for what it is: a distraction and petty. Evolution with family dynamics between my mother and myself. Big growth there in how we communicate. Still unlearning old unhealthy behaviors there.
What would I like to do more of in 2012 that I maybe didn’t do enough of in 2011? Why do I want to do these things? How will they benefit me (and others in my life)?
Yoga yoga yoga. Art art art. Because they make me feel good. Because they make my body/emotions/mind all work better. Because it supports my career aspirations. Because I like doing them and they are both a never-ending challenge that rely solely on my independent progression and development.
What am I grateful for?
Where would I begin? The things I shouldn’t take for granted are at the top of the list: being a free woman, health, family, husband, friends, job, insurance, car that works, a home that is awesome, landlord I hold dear, community of people whom I love and support and receive in return, student loan repayment flexibility to fit my income/situation. Music. Charity. Hugs. Warmth. Forgiveness. Laughter. Smiles. Sincerity.
How happy I am with myself as I am right now?
I am very content with myself and the things within my control. Just a few tweaks here and there. Happy with my process – pleased with my direction and attitude.
How did I surprise myself last year?
I care more than I realize sometimes. And as usual, I am always surprised when I do things well and they work out. Standards are so high for myself that I never expect success – just desperately hope for it. And when it happens: YAY!
Bring it, 2012. I’m gonna kick your ass.