A new year and no resolutions

It’s a new year and I’ve been reading everywhere all about fresh starts and being better, healthier, and happier. I really don’t feel the novelty everyone always talks about after the New Year. Except for a digit in my calendar having changed from a five to a six, I feel the same; I’m struggling with the same challenges and working on the same projects as in December.

No, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions and I never make any. A friend posted a picture on Facebook that said, “I can’t believe it’s been a year since I didn’t become a better person”, and somehow, although it was supposed to be funny and I did get a good laugh, it really summed it up for me. On many levels.

Fresh starts are good, but for them to actually happen they need to be the result not only of a real need, but also of an epiphany and an understanding that change is absolutely essential. It takes planning and commitment and you have to be systematic. No wonder very few spontaneously made New Year’s resolutions actually make it past January. In my research, I’ve seen that no matter how much people want to do things differently in life, they don’t unless they experience something that provides them with a sense of urgency. And that can and should happen any time during the year, not just on January 1st.

But maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe that’s not what New Year’s resolutions are about. Maybe they’re about dreaming, about imagining a better you, and that even though you’re not actually prepared to do anything to get there, they sort of give you energy, inspiration, and why not hope? Because dreaming is important, where there are no dreams, there is no hope.

Writing this, I’m actually starting to feel a bit like the Grinch of New Years. Maybe the whole point is not to be so sensible all the time. Maybe our musings don’t always have to lead to action, progress, or success. Maybe they can just be for the sake of being.

Having said that, there are a couple of things I would like for 2016:

First, I need to learn how to chill. Although much of what I’ve been doing during the past year has been new and exciting, it has also been pretty exhausting. This is one of the side effects of opting out and in, you find yourself outside your comfort zone, doing many things for the first time without being able to fall back on previous experience. I need to remember to breathe, to trust myself and my abilities, and to give myself a break every now and then. And also literally take a break so I can spend more time with family, my parents in particular. Because that’s what’s important in life: the people you spend it with.

The other thing is to figure out what my next step is going to be. I find myself, at least mentally, with one foot in the academic world and one in the business world. I actually really like it that way, because there is so much in both worlds that really does and doesn’t work and they complement each other in many ways. I’ll save the details for another post, but until then I can say that it is becoming all the more clear to me that my opting out and in journey is exactly that – a journey – and I’m nowhere near the finish line. So during 2016 I will focus on figuring out what that next step is, and on taking it. I have to remember to stay in the driver’s seat though. After all, that was the whole point of opting out to begin with!

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