Tag Archives: contentment

There’s A Thin Line Between Making New Year’s Resolutions & Feeling Like A Failure

11 Jan

“2011:  another 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 52,600 minutes, 3,153,600 seconds of struggle, growth, progress, and experience” – TumblrSays on Twitter

I saw this tweet the last week of 2010 and my first thought was, Great.  Another 3,153,600 seconds of struggle.  Can’t wait! But that was shortly followed by relief.  Because it described something so real:  a year of ups and downs, goods and bads, struggle and progress.  A year of a whole-wide range of experiences.

This sounded so much better than trying to make 2011 THE BEST YEAR OF ALL-TIME!!!  I’ve seen a lot of talking/tweeting/Facebooking about making this year THE GREATEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE!  And full disclosure:  I may have once written a post that mentioned having a big year.  But I’m over it.  Now the mere thought of trying to have a big amazing year just makes me want to take a nap.  Until December.  Why does this year have to be FABULOUS and BIG and THE BEST?  Why can’t it just be regular and real and experience-filled?

For many years, I read and did the goal-setting exercises in the book Your Best Year Yet! where you wind up with a plan for your year (to make it the best one yet!) that includes your top ten goals.  In the past, I enjoyed a lot of things about this process.  But I had no desire whatsoever to do it this year, or to make any kind of BIG resolutions.

Last year, as I always do, I typed up my ten Best Year Yet! goals in pretty fonts and cheerful colors, and posted them on my bulletin board.  In September, I looked at them, and realized that I had only achieved one sub-point each on three goals thus far.  Goals that had A LOT of sub-points, so one on each was not statistically significant.  Since I was not on track with my goal-achieving for the first 3/4 of 2010, that meant that I’d have to make it my best October-December yet!  Instead I ripped my bright and cheery goals off my bulletin board and stuffed them in a file folder.  In the back of my file cabinet where the sun don’t shine.

I will come clean and say that I sat down a few weeks ago with my notebook and wrote out a few goals.  In black pen.  No pretty fonts or bright colors.  These goals are very small.  They are micro-goals.  Things I can do every week.  I am thinking of them as non-oppressive goals.  Doing them won’t make me have the BIGGEST, BEST, MOST AMAZING YEAR EVER!!!  But not doing them won’t make me feel like an abject failure.  And hopefully they will do what goals at their best do – give me direction and focus and spark enthusiasm.  As someone who loves a hearty To Do list, they will give me something to write down on my list and check off, week after week.  When I read them over, I felt excited and enthusiastic and not oppressed, which is a good sign that I am on the right track.

This post is not meant to be a criticism of that book.  The problem I have is with a society that constantly bombards us with messages that we and our years and our lives have to be BIG, BETTER, THE BEST, which leads to feelings that anything less, anything regular and simple and ordinary, doesn’t matter, doesn’t measure up, doesn’t even count.

Looking back at 2010, I had a year of…experiences.  Some joyful, some painful, and a lot of in-between.  In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown writes, “Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments.”  2011 doesn’t need to be my BEST YEAR OF ALL-TIME FOREVER AND EVER!  I just want it to be a year of experiences.  I hope to have more good days than bad.  I hope to experience more moments of contentment and peace than of depression and anxiety.  I hope to be able to spend time doing things I love, feeling engaged, excited, and enthusiastic.  I hope for curiosity, learning, healing, and growth.  I hope for connectedness and community.  And I hope to let go of chasing down brightly colored extraordinary moments, so that I can be blissful surprised by bursts of joy in the most ordinary of moments.