I hope I’m not too late. I wanted to catch you before you make any…resolutions.
Tonight, before the clock strikes twelve, whether you’re in New York, India, or our soggy Northwest, you may be tempted, as you stand before a slightly soused group of friends, to declare your intentions for the year.
Take care! Resolutions can be tricky.
(Happy New Year, by the way.)
Like a vampire, (I saw the play “Dracula” this fall) resolutions appear so seductive and appealing. But one blood-sucking bite can turn you into a powerless blob–or worse.
You start the year oh-so-hopeful. Then, your resolutions slowly transmute into yet another reason to beat yourself up for falling short of your goals.
Wanting to stay the course, you add a whopping dose of willpower, which keeps you going for another week or month. Until your body, which has taken the brunt of your folly, cries,“stop,” proving once again that it’s the keeper of good sense in the household.
Regretfully, you add another scratch mark to the scorecard of life, confirming that you can’t… (you fill in.) The vampire’s won.
There are much gentler ways to step into the new year.
If you want an “-ution,” try absolutions
Absolutions are a formal way to let go of guilt or obligation. That might sound pompous but most of us require some heavy-duty permission before we can purge the toxic-waste dump we carry of regrets, disappointments, and self-judgments. Think of absolutions as a form of old-fashion psychic slate-cleaning.
By the time you’ve reached my age, or whatever age you are, you’ve probably made a ton of goals that you haven’t met, resolutions that you couldn’t keep, and good intentions that sounded so right before abruptly going flippity-flop.
Time to absolve! Find some inner freshness. Learning from your disappointments is good. Dragging them around like Linus’ thoroughly sucked and soggy blanket is not.
Without all that junk you’ve been carrying, you’ll feel lighter. Guaranteed.
My New Year’s gift: a blessing from the universe
I know it’s a bit inflated to speak for the universe and offer you a blessing, but someone had to do it. The world situation calls for more human beings who dare to move with joy into what they’re called to do next.
So here it goes:
I, on behalf of the universe, hereby ABSOLVE you, of all shame, guilt, self-blame and excessive self-judgment, constriction, and sense of defeat caused by what you failed to do, or who you failed to be.
I give you the RIGHT to make mistakes, make goals and not reach them, fail to keep an intention or resolution, fall flat on your face and feel momentarily terrible–all in service to you being you and continually learning.
I INVITE you to joyfully take the next step in service to what calls you throughout the next year.
For the greater good of all. Amen.
Let enthusiasm fuel us
What helps me more than resolution is enthusiasm. A sense of grounded excitement about the future. A hint of meaningfulness. A sprinkle of joy. A belief that whatever is calling me is what I need to be doing. Even if it’s not fun. (I don’t pretend that all of life can be a ten on the fun-ometer)
Delight. Energy. Uplift. These give my dreams fuel.
If I were an intention, I’d be much more attracted to someone who was joyous about it, than someone who was moping around in a state of wish-and-hope.
None of the great things in life (e.g. my husband, horse, friends, dogs, dark chocolate or the program I created…) came out of a sense of willpower, desperation, or resolving.
I have friends who have given up intentions altogether. They’ve learned to float down the great river of life–which is probably a very good thing if you can pull it off.
Me, I need a life raft to go with the flow.
Which is why you’ll still find me setting a few intentions, goals, and visions for the future. But not out of a sense of duty.
Add more delight to your dreams
Maybe this week, I’ll head to my cabin, pull out a large sheet of sketch paper and a set of pens, and mind-map (or doodle) ideas that appeal to me. The plan: dream, then draw. Delight, then do.
Henriette Klauser wrote a book called Write it Down, Make it Happen. I’m not keen on the word “make,” but I enjoy her writing, even if she forgot to talk about absolutions.
Why do any of this if you can’t celebrate what you can do and forgive what you can’t?
Adding “should” to a batch of intentions is like adding a rotten apple to a bag of clean ones and waiting for what happens. (I harvest lots of apples and can assure you it’s not pretty.)
I had an opportunity to visit Santa this December when he was at the LeMay Car Museum. He asked me what I wanted, and I said, “world peace and a sustainable environment.” He said he’d work on it, but I didn’t leave convinced.
With big aspirations like world peace, and, in my case, finishing a draft of my book, I’ll need plenty of spark.
So as you think about your new year, please chart on more fun and delight. The world needs your lighter heart, skipping down the path towards much-needed change.
May your new year be merry and bright.