You May Need to Adjust the Resolution

I’ve been mostly telling people I don’t really want to do resolutions this year.

That’s half-true, like most truths. I have been reading a lot about zen and mindfulness, and a big part of that is how we live in a kind of world we construct through the stories in our heads, and how those stories get in the way of genuinely engaging directly with our lives.

I don’t know if it’s true for other people, but it’s certainly true for me. I spend a lot of time in my head. I’ve always been an over thinker. And while occasionally that thinking is useful, just as often it can be harmful or self-defeating.

I haven’t done a 2014 wrap-up because I find it hard to summarise my year. Maybe my head isn’t clear enough. But also, I feel like the moment I attach a story to it, I’m already oversimplifying. My year was a lot of things, but it wasn’t a narrative. I don’t know. As soon as I start writing about it I feel like I’m smoothing off the edges that make it real.

And resolutions are another kind of story, sometimes, too. We tell ourselves that there are things we want to achieve, and then we assess our success or failure against how well we’ve done it. And then we feel good, because we did the things we said we would, or, more frequently, we feel like failures because we couldn’t live up to the standards we set, in our minds.

It’s complicated, though, because it’s not like it’s bad to have goals. Even giving up goals is a goal, isn’t it? *Explodes in logical contraction*. So what’s the difference between a goal that’s freeing and empowering, as opposed to one that’s constricting, self-flagelating or claustrophobic?

Maybe the difference is in how lightly we hold on to them.

There are a lot of things I want to do, want to work toward. A lot of them are long term things I’ve been working on for years. Some are personal; I want to be calmer, less stressed, less angry, happier and more present on a day to day level. Some are creative; I want to find ways to re-engage and re-enthuse myself about art again, find ways to make writing enjoyable and rediscover the love for it. Oh, and finish my f*#king novel.

I want to sleep properly, eat healthy, drink less caffeine, exercise. All that shit.

But what I don’t want is to engage with the storyline that tells me I need to achieve those things. That it’ll somehow make me happy if I can achieve what I set out to achieve, that carrot hanging perpetually just out of my grasp.

I want to not beat myself up when I fail. I want to accept life more for what it is, instead of always wishing things were different. I want to listen less to the voices in my head, when they tell me stories, about who I am, about the ways I’ve failed, disappointed, about the things I feel like other people think about me. It’s all just nonsense, sound and fury, etc.

Do those count as resolutions? I’m not sure. Maybe ongoing, amorphous, non-binding resolutions. Who cares, anyway? Like I’m gonna be bothered scrolling back through my blog in a year’s time to check! Who knows what I promised! Look, this year I’m gonna create a cow from the body of a chicken. Take that, future me! Reconcile that goal!

I seem to have gotten distracted.

Happy 2015, anyway.

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3 Responses to You May Need to Adjust the Resolution

  1. I like to think of it as an ‘outlook’ for the year, rather than resolutions. I truly hope you have a good year, Ben.

    Also, I always look back on my outlook and review for the previous year… I love re-engaging with past me and seeing how I’ve changed (or what went pear shaped – or not) over the year. It’s one of the reasons I bother to write my year in review and outlook posts. 🙂


  2. girliejones says:

    I think the thing I am trying to focus on is it’s not the goal that’s the point but the journey and life/habit change required to get to that goal. The happiness should come from working towards it, not having it. If that makes sense?

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