Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet? 2013 is the year you’ll lose that 10 pounds, quit smoking, finish the novel?
We’ve all been there (we’re there now). And there’s one main reason why you shouldn’t make New Year’s Resolutions.
Resolutions won’t make us thinner, famous, or rich. And here’s why.
Resolutions are a burden. Not only do I want to achieve a goal, but now I’ve got this self-imposed pressure to follow through on it. Suddenly there’s this extra weight on my mind.
If the goal is to lose 10 pounds then that means no ice cream or chocolate cookies. At first we jump on the treadmill. We load up on carrots and mesclun.
Then all that working out makes us tired. Or we get stuck working late and don’t have the energy when we get home. We crave the cookies and eat twice as many as before. We feel guilt. More struggle.
So what do we do?
There is a better, easier way to achieve our goals and improve the lives of those around us.
Think Outside the Box (And Yourself)
Resolutions are often centered around personal goals. My challenge to you is to think beyond yourself: try this, and the “resolutions” take care of themselves.
Instead of resolutions, we can choose to be generous with ourselves.
We can start by noting that those of us in the Global North are incredibly privileged. We have running water, food, shelter, clothing.
We have freedom of expression.
We have freedom, period.
Thich Nhat Hahn writes, “We already have everything we are looking for, everything we want to become.” His advice is perfect anytime, but especially this time of year:
Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just be.
We don’t have to wait for resolutions to be “achieved” to feel fulfilled. That moment of fulfillment is now.
What this doesn’t mean is sitting by. Action is needed: in small and large ways. There is tremendous suffering in the world. As Thich Naht Hanh counsels, it is “our responsibility to bring peace and joy into our own lives, even though not everything in our body, mind, or environment is exactly as we would like.”
Is there someone you know who has experienced personal loss, or is looking for a job? Could they use a helping hand, a piece of advice, or simply someone to listen and talk with?
Is there a cause that’s important to you? What can you do today, right now, to help?
We can improve our society, and ourselves. This is something we can do for ourselves every day. And not just on January 1. When we don’t focus on our own “resolutions,” things get done and change happens. Why? Because only in that moment are we free.
Sounds counterintuitive? Yes, and that’s why it works.
How to Get Things Done in 2013
Let’s say you choose to volunteer one night a week. Suddenly you’re not sitting in the front of the TV eating chips. You’re helping people or contributing to a cause that’s important to you.
Meanwhile you’ve created a little peace and liberation.
Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, try asking yourself, “how can I become a refuge for others?” (And watch those pounds fly off. Well, you know what I mean.)
Which resolutions will you not be making next year? Please leave a comment below!
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