For writers, there's something about a blank page. Clean and unblemished, it can inspire or it can invoke paralysis. It's the same thing with a new year. Full of still unformed possibilities, a new year can be both exciting and intimidating when you're standing on its doorstep.
I used to make New Year's resolutions. I don't anymore. I do, however, use this time of year to refocus goals and desires that already exist. My partner does something similar, and calls his process the annual navel gaze. Perhaps it's semantics, but the word "resolution" reminds me of the many (failed) times I desperately grasped for a goal I thought I "should" want at the turn of the calendar. Lose 20 pounds. Save more money. Get that promotion. Start doing yoga. You know, the typical stuff.
I wobbled under the heaviness of these things, the things I thought I "should" do. I was like Atlas trying to hold up the world, but the psychological weight brought me to my knees. By mid-January I often felt like a failure, crushed by my inability to champion my new ambitions.
Instead, now I use the shift from one year to another to reflect back with gratitude (I get so caught up making plans that I often forget to do so), and look forward to some intentions that genuinely excite me. Whether I get there in this year or the next, I'm headed in the right direction.
A friend and colleague of mine, Ari, sets a broad theme for her year -- what she calls "infinite qualities" that she'd like to focus on. Last year her theme was "playful discovery" and this year it's "wild and free." I am in love with this idea. She made this resolution thing her own.
We have a crisp, unblemished, year laid out before us. Like a writer with a blank page staring her in the face, we can let it intimidate or inspire. I challenge you to choose the latter. Do not be paralyzed by the epic potential or browbeaten by the many "shoulds."
With the many externalized pressures we face -- which, let's face it, are really self-imposed pressures to fit in, be liked, etc. -- it's easy to feel as if you're simply experiencing life rather than directing it. So, here's to a year of writing your future on your own terms. After all, you are the author of your own life, not just the protagonist.
Happy New Year!
Published at Careergasm.