Many holidays bring a lot of emotional baggage, but New Year’s seems to really pack a wallop. Not only are you exhausted and stuffed from the holiday marathon you just endured, but now you are supposed to make a plan to remedy all your faults and come up with a plan for a whole new life just because the calendar changes.
Don’t get me wrong, I indulge in all of the resolutions, intentions, themes and words for the year as much or more than anyone, but oy, with the pressure of it.
It’s so attractive, this idea that you can lay out all of your imperfections and remedy each one with the drop of the ball in Times Square.
It may actually happen to some people, but never to me.
I’ve experienced enormous changes, but it most likely starts on a random Tuesday in May rather than January 1.
My theme for last year was flow and it did come in handy because I had a lot of changes and curveballs thrown my way. And I actually remember what my theme was which in and of itself is progress.
I still wigged out and spent a lot of time worrying and stress eating, but FLOW was still flittering in my mind.
So this year I’ve been thinking all week about what I want to do and change in 2018 and the list is long, my friends. Way long.
I’ve been able to distill into a theme though and it is “Be Kathryn” (flagrantly stolen from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project). Which basically means understand your true nature and accept it. You will likely not like some of the things you find out about yourself, but it’s important to accept them and not force yourself into something that, in the end, will just make you miserable. Gretchen’s example is that she’s a little sad that she’ll never go to a jazz club late one night because the idea of it sounds so cool and something that she should want to do. But the reality is that she doesn’t want to do it. She doesn’t especially care for music and being out late at night in a crowded and dark club isn’t her thing. But she still mourns the fact that she won’t do it until she accepts that about herself.
“As great minds throughout the ages have pointed out, one of our most pressing concerns should be to discover the laws of our own nature. I had to build my happiness in the foundation of my character; I had to acknowledge what really made me happy, not what I wished made me happy. One of the biggest surprises of the happiness project was just how hard it was to know myself.” Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project
I think another way to look at this is to stop shoulding over everything. “I should wake up at 5 am to write my novel, then meditate for an hour, then make an elaborate and healthy meal for breakfast, then walk into my clutter-free closet and chose something from my capsule wardrobe, then walk or bike to a job that society deems legitimate, eat my mason jar salad for lunch, work until I’m the last person in the place, then go to a yoga class, then go home and cook another elaborate and healthy dinner, have explosive sex with my husband and then read a New York Times bestselling book and go then go to sleep where I have vivid and prediction-filled dreams” (and repeat ad nauseam).
But what if you really don’t want to do some or all of that. What if it isn’t in your nature to wake up at 5 am, but rather to stay up later and write then? What if you want to work from home or salads make you gassy?
We are INNUNDATED with gurus and other media that screams to us to follow their rules to the promised land of perfection, but the truth is YOU get to decide what that means to you. No one else.
So figure out your likes, dislikes, strengths, weakness, etc. and honor that. Sounds MUCH easier said than done.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Are you an early riser or a night owl?
Are you an obliger, rebel, questioner or upholder? (Another Gretchen Rubin gem, The Four Tendencies)
Are you lactose intolerant?
What’s your love language?
What’s your Myers-Briggs type?
What’s your color season?
All of this and more can tell you more about yourself and can help you to lead a healthier and happier life.
I’m not saying you can’t change a habit or something else about yourself that you truly don’t like, but by knowing yourself, you will know how best to make that change happen.
And you need to know why you are truly doing it. Is it Oprah’s idea or yours?
That’s my plan anyway. To learn more about myself and to honor it.
Along with laundry list of other resolutions. Ha! Writing to you every day here is one of them too. Let’s see what happens in 2018.
Happy New Year, friends.