Many years ago now I gave up on New Year’s resolutions. It wasn’t that hard to do. Basically I was giving up on the annual festival of setting myself up for failure, and what’s not to like about that! What prompted me though, more than just the desire to avoid failure and the subsequent self-flagellation, was a deep sense that if something was worth doing, it was worth doing properly. Ergo, if something needed to be changed, then that change, by necessity, started now – you didn’t wait until the 1st of January.
When my dad died in March I understood this truth on a whole new level. It presented as a question – “Do you need a life changing event, to change your life?” To which the answer was, no.
We are often changing long before that transformation has surfaced for the rest of the world to see. Sometimes before we have even acknowledged it ourselves. We are constantly unravelling and reshaping, gathering and letting go, beginning and ending. We are in a perpetual state of ‘becoming’. Which, in itself, is a thing of beauty.
When I gave up on New Year’s resolutions once and for all, I wasn’t walking away from the opportunity for personal development, but rather towards a state of conscious growth. New Year’s resolutions had become too focussed on the superficialities of life – losing those last few pounds, quitting being such a potty mouth, giving up sugar, not drinking during the working week (madness), eating clean, reading more, etc. etc. I was struck by how much of what we resolve on New Year’s Eve is ego centric or influenced by what’s trending at any given time. And so, the integrity of our resolutions is marred by social expectation – including that at New Year’s you need to make resolutions… and then break them with a public flourish.
Instead of New Year’s resolutions then, I committed to acknowledging the differences I needed / wanted and then effecting that change – then and there. Committing on the spot to embracing the process that had begun to occur the moment I became aware of what my heart wanted. I started making ‘Life Resolutions’.
Never one to do things by halves, I jumped straight in at the deep end. My first Life Resolution was to ‘live life without fear’. This wasn’t about feeling the fear and doing it anyway – in what I describe as ‘cliched living’. This was about cutting out the fear entirely. Of course, once I made that commitment I was confronted with the truth of just how fearful a person I was. Which surprised even me. I had always thought of myself as a bold adventurer, living outside of the box, steering my own ship – but apart from a lot of travel, I had little proof of this. And once I had laid down the gauntlet, fear slithered its way out of every nook and cranny, demanding to be heard, recognised and fed.
I did all bar the last. I listened to my fear – to better understand it. I recognised it for what it was – false evidence appearing real – and thereby denied it of power. But I didn’t feed it. Instead I found myself asking (with increasing frequency), why would I not do this? And if the answer was only ‘fear’, then I forged ahead. And I soon came to understand that without fear to cloud my judgement, I was always where I was meant to be.
My commitment to doing forty-three things this birthday year is very much Life Resolutions on steroids. I’ve transitioned from letting them evolve and come to me organically, to seeking out the changes that will hopefully make me a better person.
As I write this there are less than two weeks remaining in 2014. On a personal level it’s been a tough year emotionally and physically, and frankly I’m looking forward to seeing the back of it and welcoming in 2015. The events that unfolded in Sydney earlier this week, only strengthened that feeling. But it also reminded me, as so much has this year, of just how fragile our relationship with others is and of the importance in nurturing and cherishing the connections we make throughout our lives. Of taking nothing for granted and being grateful for all that we have.
So while you can rest assured that I won’t be making any New Year’s resolutions anytime soon, and that I won’t be asking you to either, I do plan to let go of the old and welcome in the new. And even more importantly, I want you to know, friend or stranger, effective immediately, as per the way of Life Resolutions –
When you talk, I’ll listen. When you grieve, I’ll stand with you. When we are out together, I won’t check my phone or take calls from other people. When I pay you for my coffee, I’ll look you in the eye. When you compliment me, I’ll say ‘thank you’. When you’re not feeling like yourself, I’ll help you reconnect. When you’re lost, I’ll be your map. When I see you sitting on the street with cap in hand, I’ll buy your lunch. When you are feeling rushed, I’ll help you find more time. When you’re heart is breaking, I’ll help you hold it together. When you are laughing, I’ll share your joy. When I visit you I wont judge you for your sweats or the dishes in the sink, but embrace your life. When you are fearful, I’ll shine a light on the false evidence.
Whether we are together or apart –
I will be present.
Life Resolution #3 Be Present