It never fails. Every January the world goes crazy for New Year’s resolutions. The bandwagon is more like a bullet train filled with big ideas, high hopes and bustling aspirations. For many, it is a clean slate from a year that may have been bogged down in some really bad stuff. For others, it can be an agent of change; an overhaul of the body and mind. Better eating, better living, checking off bucket list items, regaining health, finding new jobs, repairing family and friend riffs, nurturing new relationships, i.e. anything new that will catapult one into a different stratosphere of life.
The first week of the year, I have terrible resolution FOMO (millennial short for Fear Of Missing Out.) I wonder what self-improvement I need, how I can change my eating/drinking/exercise program to life a longer/better life, how can I effectively get rid of everything in my house that is superfluous, what type of professional and personal goals should I work toward to make me feel like I am a productive member of society. Before I know it, I am on that bullet train and I am speeding over the limit for approximately a week, sometimes even a month. Until I crash. Hard. With the kind of disappointment that one receives when not picked to dance at a camp social. I get slightly depressed, and revert to do nothing for an extended time period. It’s as if making these resolutions pushes me backward, off the track that I was currently on when I was doing just fine.
So what is so wrong life that we have to give it an overhaul? And why is it so different from March, June or September? The truth is there is never anything so dissimilar that makes me need to make drastic changes on January 1. Life happens all year-long; some of it good, some of it awful with a lot of moments of awe in between. Loved ones get sick, friends get divorced, family members do bad things to each other all year-long. I gain a few pounds in the winter; I lose a few in the summer. I go to awesome family events and take fun trips. My life is a rollercoaster filled with outstanding ups and seriously suck-fest downs. I attempt to ride both the crests and bottom waves as best as I can by being true to myself and a decent friend, parent and partner. I don’t always hit the mark, but at least at the ripe old age of 53 I can say I give it my darndest.
“Every day you wake up in the morning is a gift,” says Boston Soulcycle instructor James Lewis on during his Saturday morning class. “It’s not about striving for perfection or getting one million followers on Instagram, it’s about the little things that you do. So tell me now,” he shouts above the music to his loyal followers. “Who are you? Who you gonna be?” It could be a July beach day or Halloween, James Lewis doesn’t need to preach solely on January 1; he believes we are striving to be better all year long.
I can understand the want to push life’s restart button on January 1. After a long holiday season when many have fallen off the reality wagon, it feels like a good place to get back on track. Goals are good; goals are concrete. Making a bucket list and trying to check it off is a wonderful idea. Doing all on a schedule sets us up for failure. Life comes at us like a hurricane all year long. It sweeps us away. We don’t always react in a positive way. We mess up. We make bad food choices. We get in arguments. We get sick. We face natural disasters. We lose jobs. We lose friends. We bruise and fall down. But just as quickly as the undertoe of life took our breath away, comes the unexpected triumphs. We fall in love. We watch our kids grow up. We laugh uncontrollably. We take an exotic trip. We find a new career. We get a clean bill of health. We turn 50 and 60 and 70 years old. We find gratitude so bountiful that when the next tragedy strikes, we are a bit more prepared. And that is what living is all about.
I concluded 2017 with a perfect family vacation. We came home in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve with some of the people I love most in this world. I broke two dishes that morning; one that belonged to my grandmother and the other that purchased as a newly married couple. Ying and yang inside of 24 hours. Life at its best – the sweet with the bitter, the good with the bad. So once again I’ll opt out of making resolutions. Instead I’ll wake up every morning, count my fingers and toes and figure out who I’m gonna be for the next 24 hours.