Resolution-er /noun: a person that lists a set of goals and promises for the purposes of self betterment on December 31st with a tentative start date of January 1st, the first day of the new year on the Gregorian calendar. Goals are often quantitative in nature and are intended to be achieved over the course of the next 365 days (366 during a leap year) but will, in all likelihood, be abandoned by the end of January and completely forgotten of by February of the same year.
In all seriousness, I’m teasing. The reality is that I love making resolutions, not only for the goal setting component but also for the act of reflection and taking a survey of all that has changed. Taking the time to make a game plan for yourself is valuable and an exercise that more of us should participate in, whether it’s on December 31st, upon the completion of a major accomplishment, or really, any damn time you want. What I disagree with however is the strict parameter for success; if you don’t accomplish your goal on the first try it doesn’t count, or everything needs to be completed within a year to qualify as a success. It’s not to say that we shouldn’t have timelines and hold ourselves accountable but progress is gradual, sometimes it’s messy, and sometimes it can’t be contained in such a strict manner. In other words, it’s life.
Take 2015 for example, in no way could I have ever predicted that in one year I would have gained a husband, welcomed a new family member (my second dog), (finally) finished my post-graduate certificate, and found a community as wonderful as all of you but I did. What I didn’t do was get back into the shape I wanted, get published (professionally that is), or become best friends with Emma Watson (along with my current best friend, OF COURSE) and while I did make minor strides towards all those goals with the exception of the last one, one year after making those resolutions I’m not quite as close as I expected to be.
Because on December 31st 2014 as I made my resolutions, huddled together with my best friends at the cottage, I didn’t anticipate that I would unexpectedly lose my dad in a few months, experience a form of arrested emotional development, and change the way I view the world. I also didn’t expect to come face to face with grief and depression that basically made me apathetic towards a lot of things including my own physical health. I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t care at all because I did but after my dad’s death, I started to see things differently and re-prioritize my life, which meant that some goals got put on the back burner.
If we were to maintain strict accordance to the rules of success, would I count 2015 as a bust or triumph? If so, why does it have to be in such unequivocal terms?
I’m here to tell you, the answer is more complicated. People sometimes feel frustrated with their inability to reach specific goals but I figure that as long as you’ve put in an honest effort, you’ve made progress; it may not be in the way that you had hoped but you’ve done something. I used to be much harder on myself for this, thinking that not reaching my goal was the worst thing that could happen but I’ve learned to show myself some leniency. There are so many unexpected, unpredictable things that happen to us, which can cause us to deviate course, and it’s not up to us to keep going like nothing has happened; we have to re-adjust.
All of this brings me to my primary resolution for 2016 and that is learning to re-adjust. What that means for me is prioritizing my own health again by eating healthier and exercising but also going to all the doctor’s visits I’ve been putting off. It means accepting the fact that I might be struggling with my grief more than I want to admit and seeking help. It means letting go of the fear that all good things come to an end and learning to enjoy things as they are, an outlook that once came naturally to me but has chipped away over the years. It means that I can continue on with the plans I made while adapting to the realities of life. The truth is, I like the person that I am but I want to be better, and I am hoping that 2016 will bring me closer to that.