In the next few days, as 2016 comes to an end (not too soon for many of us) and 2017 begins, many people will make resolutions – or at least think about making them.
One definition of resolution is “a firm decision to do or not do something” but, as many of us know from past experience, resolutions are hardly firm. Another part of the definition is “the action of solving a problem.” Yet, can we be honest, how many problems do we solve with New Year’s resolutions?
So instead of looking at the problems we need to solve or the things we do not want to continue to do, let’s look at how we want to see ourselves.
A man in one of my downsizing talks asked me, “Do you have a vision?” and I thought what a great question. He was asking about a vision of a less cluttered life; do the steps we take make more sense if we have a vision of what we want our homes to look like. But it’s also a question about life in general. What if we looked at our vision, the end goal, what we want our lives to look like, rather than at the steps or resolutions we need to take to get there.
For the new year, I would like to set goals for myself, goals that will help me meet a vision of myself that is more positive. Goals like having more kindness in my life, being more minimalist – yes, more of less, and having more gratitude for each day. I want to have a vision of myself as a better person.
Here are five areas where I envision a better version of myself.
*I would like to be more positive.
And I definitely want to be less negative, less anxious, less stressed, less judgmental and less of all the other things that I usually am. I want to take to heart the wonderful words of Gandhi.
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
*I would like to be more thankful.
The quality of being thankful has been defined as the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. As someone wise said, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” In a previous post I wrote about the wisdom of gratitude.
*I want to work forwards rather than backwards.
It helps to think of “ought” as the operative word according to Harold Schulweis, an author and activist who said, “Is faces me toward the present; ought turns me to the future.” It’s not what I am doing but what I ought to be doing. A great insight for New Year’s resolution makers.
*I would like to realize a dream.
Someone said childhood dreams never leave us, but we leave them. What would we do if we knew we could not fail? Lily Tomlin had it right when she said, “I always wanted to be someone, but now I realize I needed to be more specific.” Can we be more specific? What is one task or project or dream we have been putting off and what is one thing we could do to get started?
*I would like to be an even better friend.
Friendship, the coming together of people I value greatly, has meant a lot to me these last few years and I want to continue to be a good friend to my best women friends, my group of women, my extended family of friends, the men and women I work with, and the people I volunteer with.
So I will take a deep breath – or better yet do some yoga breathing – as I look forward to working on a more positive me.
As we approach the new year, I would like to share with you wise words from Susan Sontag in her Vassar College commencement speech in 2003.
“I haven’t talked about love. Or about happiness. I’ve talked about becoming – or remaining – the person who can be happy, a lot of the time, without thinking that being happy is what it’s all about. It’s not. It’s about becoming the largest, most inclusive, most responsive person you can be.”
A happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year to all.
≈Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and food, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.
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