With the new year now fully underway, the perennial avalanche of articles, Facebook updates, blog posts and podcasts about resolutions has taken the internet by storm yet again.
Which resolutions you should make this year. Why you shouldn’t make them at all. Why you should. Why you’ll fail, or how to be sure you succeed.
How to be more confident. What to do to be healthier. Ways you can become happier. Things to do to be more organized, have less stress or save more money.
Seeing all of this talk about habit-forming and self-improvement and how to live a better life has led me to contemplate not so much how exactly I will do so myself this year, but rather how much I learned about how to do so over the past year.
As much as the planning, worrying, future-dwelling Olivia is looking forward to the many goals and milestones that 2016 will undoubtedly bring, I can’t help but reflect on the lessons I learned in 2015 that will help me to achieve them.
Last year, in a lot of ways, is the year I learned the most about myself. I did a lot of new things, sure. I went back to school. I got a great job. Moved to a bigger place.
But the real lessons for me came from starting to live differently; approaching life from a new perspective and interacting with it in a new way.
These changes weren’t born of a resolution or plan of any kind. I did not consciously decide to make this shift. But as challenges and choices arose, I began to see that, in order to proceed, I really only had two options:
To struggle my way through on shoulds and ought tos; on guilt and obligations; on uncertainty and self-doubt.
Or to go with my gut and not apologize for it.
I’m trying really hard to do the second one.
So I’ve made hard choices. I’m learning to say no. I’ve had to end some friendships, but I’ve been able to rekindle others and begin still others. I’m forgiving. I am insisting and persisting my way to improved health. I ask a million questions. I’m creating boundaries. I stopped eating grains, sugars, dairy and other things my body isn’t a fan of. I’m taking an ongoing break from alcohol. I really try prioritize my needs. I’m staying home when I want to and making plans when I want to, and trying not to do either of those things when I don’t want to. I’m meditating and practicing yoga. I’m working on being more accountable with my money.
Going with my gut has changed the way I think, act and feel every day.
But I’m not doing this as part of some big, elaborate resolution scheme. I’m not doing it as part of a detailed, multi-step plan. I’m not doing it because because I feel like I have to.
In fact, it’s the opposite of each and every one of those reasons. It just sort of happened, and it’s still a choice I have to make daily. But most of all, it just honestly feels really fucking good to actually listen to myself.
I’m more confident in my decisions, more secure in my relationships, and more healthy than I’ve felt in a long time. I feel more peaceful and optimistic than I have in a while. I’m… working on stressing less. But ultimately, I feel happier, prouder and more authentically myself than I ever have.
Of course, these things are all a work in progress. I’m looking forward to feeling even better with time (and lots and lots of practice). And I’m sure that’s what 2016 holds. Resolutions or not.