January 3, 2013

New Year's Revolutions

As we settle into these first few days of 2013, everyone is either making their traditional New Year's resolutions (and publicly, thanks to the wonder that is Facebook) or resolving not to make resolutions because I guess that's hipster or Dadaist or just actually not a half bad idea because, let's face it, who keeps their resolutions past January?

Me, I'm a little torn between these two camps. Ever since I was old enough to write, I loved making lists and setting goals down on paper. However, experience has taught me that the excitement of creating a "new me" ("and I mean it this time!") is usually not enough to carry me through the months of patience and dedication most worthy goals require. I'm not trying to be the Scrooge or the Grinch of the New Year here, I'm just wondering how we can translate the inherent enthusiasm for new beginnings into real and lasting changes.

First of all, for me, it has pretty much everything to do with involving God. He is the master planner and organizer, and given that He has orchestrated the salvation of the entire human race and every individual therein, I'm sure He has a pretty good idea of how 2013 should go down and what it will require. Not only that, but He stands willing and ready to help me make positive changes. If I ask, He will even help me catch the vision He has for me and my life. That is nothing short of a miracle.

My other insight about this has to do with a typo I almost made yesterday when typing the phrase "New Year's resolutions." The error? (which turned out to be not-such-a-mistake-after-all?)

New Year's revolutions.

That's right! Let's start a revolution (and hope it ends better than it did for the young folks in Les Mis [too soon?]). If I had to revolutionize this season of goal-setting, it would be in favor of conceptualizing our most authentic selves―not the versions of ourselves favored by the media or the unforgiving demons inside of us (you know the one: she has a "perfect bod," an unrealistic work schedule, Olympian strength and endurance, out-of-this-world success and fame, and she eats nary a brownie). Our authentic selves might sleep in a little, miss a day at the gym, or watch some television in the evening without any shame. Those same selves, though, will want to be healthy and have energy, they will want to do honest work, they will take time for the things they really love (which usually have nothing to do with television and everything to do with writing or creating or singing or running or cooking or serving other people). 

A couple months ago, I was talking with a friend about what happens when you just let yourself do what you feel like, almost like intuitive eating. Sure, your body may think it really wants Oreos for about three days straight (been there), but before long, you'll actually crave salads and apples and blueberries and salmon and so much water. Likewise, if you just do whatever you want for a few days, it will start off with a whole lot of Netflix. Sooner or later, though, you can't help but start tinkering at the piano, cracking open a book you've been meaning to read, or calling a friend who hasn't heard from you in a while. Maybe it really is that simple. 

New Year's resolutions can give us some start-up momentum, but unless we're doing those things because we love them and because we love ourselves, they will never stick. I see so many people (myself included) making these goals in part because we hate ourselves. Start a revolution and overthrow the oppressive part of yourself that lords over your every look in the mirror, your every perceived failure. Learn to love yourself, learn what that means (you might spend a lifetime on that one), and do the things you love along the way. Over the summer, when I had a pretty sterling record of going to the gym regularly, I realized quickly that doing so because I should, because I made a goal, because I wanted "X" results in some future date was never enough. I went because I liked it, because it became part of my day, and because I realized it gave me time for myself and energy to make better use of my days. I had to make it real for myself and I had to do it with love.

In short, do things because you like to do them and because your authentic self is asking you to do them―not to be thinner or cooler or more successful, but to be happy and genuine. Be good to yourself. Love yourself, which always always always starts with loving other people. Be the truest of true to the youest you.

Happy 2013, you revolutionaries.

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