It's mid January and we are well under way with 2014. We have shaken of the dust of last year, got out our pen and paper and are ready to go to town with our long list of New Year's resolutions. This year is going to be different, I can feel it, it's going to be the best ever (screeeetcccchhh ? insert the sound of the needle dragging across the vinyl).
Hold on. Let's take a step back and think about this for a minute. Where is your list of resolutions from last year? Does it look disturbingly similar to this year's? Maybe it's time we look at the inherent value of making resolutions at all. Sure, self improvement is a virtuous goal, but what is the cost to us along the way?
Now don't get me wrong, I have many made personal resolutions in the past. Some have worked out pretty well, while some were mothballed before the first turn. The problem as I see it comes back to our obsession with self improvement always being predicated upon the notion that something within us is inherently flawed. There must be something actually wrong with us that necessitates needing to make resolutions in the first place. This is the part of resolution making that I think could use some improvement.
What if we were able to say quietly to ourselves that "I am enough"? What if we shifted our thought processes from, "Here is a list of all the things I need to fix about myself", to "I am actually not broken at all, but here are some areas in my life which could benefit from a fresh perspective."
It is a subtle change, but it can make a huge difference in how we approach our lives.
This is not to say that we should allow ourselves to continue to wallow in destructive behaviors or to keep on with things which are not helping our situations. By all means, if something is not working it's probably time to shake things up a bit. But by starting off from that subtly different viewpoint, we remove the albatross of guilt which so often overwhelms our ability to see clearly and act on areas in our life which could use improving upon. The self improvement industry thrives on guilt. Without it we would not buy the books, the ab-machines, or the dvds that often spend too much time gathering dust on the shelf. Why not give that guilty mindset a rest and consider exercising and strengthening new thought patterns?
Let's try to look through this new lens. How about we learn a new skill simply for the sake of learning? Let's hop on a bike or go for a hike with our family or friends because it's a fun and enjoyable thing to do. Let's do some positive things for ourselves such as getting more sleep, eating better, or getting in better physical condition simply because we want to, not because we need to fix ourselves. And most importantly, let's try to remember that, even if we get to nothing on our lists, underneath it all we are actually good enough, just as we are.