Archive | January, 2014

Exploring a New You in the New Year

2 Jan

newyearsI have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. On the one hand, I am obviously all about challenge and change and the practice of self-improvement. On the other hand, I feel like a lot of the way we treat New Year’s resolutions in our culture sets us up to fail. Once the ball drops, we are suddenly “resolved” to do or be something completely different. I will go to the gym everyday, I will lose X amount of weight, I will quit smoking, I will be a nicer person to strangers. Human willpower is a very strong force, but it does have its limits (and also needs to be recharged periodically), so sooner or later we will slip up in our resolutions to ourselves. As I have discussed before, much of our culture doesn’t encourage us to practice self-forgiveness. When we make mistakes we often view them as major failures and an indication that the quest is doomed to failure anyway, so we give it up.

I much prefer the idea of New Year’s paths. Things that are not as much goals but a new area to explore and learn in. Rather than a resolution saying, “I will go to the gym X number of times per week,” a path might be, “I will work on incorporating gym time into my routine, maybe try out a couple classes, see what motivates me, etc.” Now, I’m not saying that structure is necessarily bad–sometimes it is very necessary to advance within a discipline–but when you’re just starting out in something new, it can sometimes be overwhelming and hard to integrate hard-limit structure into our lives organically.

Another way to look at it is like this: we learn best through play, so shouldn’t it be better to approach new areas of learning with a playful, flexible mentality, rather than a rigid one?

I have a personal story that I think illustrates this well. Continue reading