THE SURPRISE SUCCESSES: Unfulfilled New Year's Resolutions
“How was your 2018?” “Are you setting any New Year’s Resolutions for 2019?”
As the end of the year draws near, these questions have infiltrated my life from well-meaning friends, family, and colleagues. Rather than glossing over the questions with a half-assed, disingenuous answer, I have tried to think honestly about my responses. And while I can genuinely say that I had an absolutely wonderful 2018, as I began contemplating my resolutions for 2019, I thought it wise to first take stock on how I did with my resolutions for this year.
In my ruminating, I took to a journal I keep at home that I documented my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions in, and instantly felt a pit in my stomach, knowing that the fact that I had to consult my notes to remind myself what my resolutions were was a pretty strong indicator that I let them fall by the wayside.
And, sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed.
I did not keep a single of my New Year’s Resolutions.
In my journal, I wrote: “Practice yoga every. Single. Day.” I did not practice yoga every single day. I could go on about the myriad of reasons I did not keep this resolution, but I won’t. Because I know that I am fully capable of spending even just five minutes on my mat every day, and I simply chose not to make the time.
I didn’t make it to my mat every single day, but when I was on the mat, I was present and I pushed myself, physically and mentally, to places I hadn’t been before. I felt the rush of hang time in tripod headstand for the first time, and subsequently, after getting comfortable with tripod headstand, experienced the struggle of going from tripod headstand, to crow, to chaturunga (some times more successfully than others). I pushed through the frustration of trying over, and over, and over to make my way into hurdler’s pose before finally feeling the magic of my back toes floating away from the ground.
I didn’t eventually explore my way into these shapes that I was previously too nervous, too intimidated, and too trepidatious to try because I am any stronger on my mat than before; I finally made my way into these shapes because I am braver on my mat than before. I stopped caring what others would think if I tried, and failed, to get into these shapes, or if my physical practice didn’t look like the photos in Light on Yoga. I simply relinquished my fear of trying on new shapes, and made then made them happen despite failing to make it to my mat every single day.
My 2018 New Year’s Resolution failures weren’t limited to just the realm of yoga, either. In my journal, I wrote “Read one book a month.” And, as much as it shames to me say, I read one book . . . this year. Despite this embarrassing admission, my most dismal track record to date, and falling eleven books short of my resolution, I have been doing more writing than I have in a really, really long time. I have reignited the spark for something I genuinely love to do, that until 2018, had fallen severely by the wayside.
I made a New Year’s Resolution to take more baths in 2018; I think I took two over the course of the year. Though I didn’t make time for downtime in the bath, I did a much better job recognizing my limits and stepping back when my mind and body needed a break. I broke my usual cycle of going nonstop, burning myself out, and recognized that it’s okay to cancel plans every now and then, and that it’s okay to take a personal day from time to time. While it might not have been in the bath, I honored my mind and body’s cravings for stillness when they called.
“More music, live and otherwise,” was on my 2018 New Year’s Resolution list; I believe three shows was the grand total. But, one of those three shows was a three-day, country music festival. Those who know me well know that I have never been a big country music fan, and that is putting my feelings towards country music lightly. So, when my country-music-loving significant other proposed we go to a country music festival, it took nearly everything in me to silence my inner judgement and protests and to instead, simply go with the flow. I went to a country music festival and had the greatest, loveliest, most epic adventure. I didn’t see a ton of live music in 2018, but I relinquished my judgements and pre-conceived notions about a genre of music, and in a larger sense an experience, that I would have previously said “absolutely not” to, only to make one of the most beautiful memories to date.
Continuing down my list of failed resolutions, I began to notice a recurring theme; I may have fallen short in meeting many, nay most, of the resolutions I set for myself, but in each failed resolution, I found the growth, passion, space, and experience that I truly needed. The perspective I gained in 2018 was not so much driven by the resolutions I made and didn’t keep, as it was driven by the resolutions that manifested organically, and that I actually needed most.
I didn’t make it to my mat every day, but I grew braver in my practice. I didn’t read one book a month, but I revived my love to write. I didn’t take more baths, but I recognized my limits and made space for me. I didn’t see more live music, but I dropped my judgements and broadened my horizons.
How was your 2018? Are you setting any New Year’s Resolutions for 2019?
Can you ask yourself these questions, and resist the urge to answer using a knee-jerk, impulse, one-word answer, pretending, just momentarily, that the words “good,” “bad,” “hard,” “okay,” are not in your vocabulary?
Take a moment to truly reflect on the past 365 days and, rather than focus on any one particular event, or person, or moment, or resolution, try to dig a little deeper and contemplate you. Your successes. Your strengths, and how you can continue to grow them. Can you reframe your perception of your “failures,” to that of a mindset of opportunities?
Perhaps Lara Heimann said it best when she said, “We are not our best when we try and work on our weaknesses. We’re better off capitalizing on our strengths.” When we reframe and retrain our brains to hone in not on where we’re lacking, but where we’re abundant, we make more room for self-love and self-acceptance, and less room for self-loathing and self-doubt. And, while I can’t speak for anyone else, I know that more self-love and more self-acceptance are two constants on my New Year’s Resolutions lists year after year.
Regardless of which resolutions you did or did not keep in 2018, and regardless of which intentions you choose to set for yourself in 2019, a new year brings a new start. Here’s to more self-love, more self-acceptance, more self-exploration, more growth, and of course, more yoga, in 2019.
Thanks for a kickass 2018! We’ll see you on the mat.