This time of year doesn't sit that well with me, though. Everyone is busily rejecting their weight, their habits, their indolence, their smoking, and any number of other things about themselves. There's a massive industry dedicated to helping you cut away the parts of yourself you don't want.
I'm not just talking about the weight loss industry, though it profits the most from this time of year. We're decluttering, downsizing, streamlining. We pick out something we don't like about ourselves, like financial irresponsibility or a habit we haven't previously been able to kick, and we build a huge plan to defeat it. We declare enemies (sugar is the devil, laziness is weakness, Netflix is a trap), and gird up for battle.
Few people seem to remember, when they're declaring enemies, to declare allies as well. I want to be stronger, sleep better, and spend more time doing the things that are important to me. My love of working out is an ally; if I indulge it I'll hit the first two of those. If I get stronger, I can hike more, and take more pictures, and create beautiful things. If I get more sleep, I have more energy during the day to get necessary tasks out of the way early and go do things I want to do. My tribe is an ally. They support me and love me and reach out to spend time with me, creating fun and wonderful experiences. They encourage me to grow, cheer my victories, and commiserate with my losses and failures. They love and value me, keeping me grounded in an understanding of and appreciation for the person I am right now.
Right out of the gate, a lot of people fail because the plan relies on them already being the person they're trying to become. They want to be the sort of person who gets daily exercise, so they exercise every day until they strain a hamstring and then never go back to the gym once it heals. They want to be the sort of person who contributes enough to their 401K to retire early, so they double their payroll contribution on the assumption that they can cut down on expenditures, and put off new shoes or car repairs until they're emergencies that end up costing more. Then, when the big plan fails to pay off because they weren't ready to start living it 100% of the time, they get demoralized and give up altogether.
You're not the person you want to grow up to be yet. You're the person you are, and that person has an entire gorgeous rich life that has formed you. Everything about you is an evolution, a culmination of generations of lives that came before you and years (if not decades) of decisions you've made for yourself and your life. You're a whole complex being right now, and setting goals for that person as if they were a stranger is never going to work. To be effective, a goal is a map from where you are to where you want to be, but maps are no good if they only list a destination and no other points of reference.
If you've embarked on a new plan or a new goal this year, let me ask you: what are you keeping? What is it you love about yourself, that fits in with the person you are right now and the life you want to have? Have you also resolved, in addition to all your changes, to keep your empathy and your good sense or your optimism and your self-care habits? When you took stock of your life, to decide where change needed to happen, did you mark out, as immutable boundaries, what you're preserving in yourself because it has value?
For those who make resolutions each year, I hope that you'll stop and lay out, for each thing you've resolved to change, something about yourself that you love enough to preserve. I hope you'll look at your allies and how you can help yourself reinforce your goals and dreams. I hope you'll be able to embrace the person you are now as valuable and worthy instead of regarding yourself as just an ingredient in some finished product.
Because I have a sad secret: if you can't love anything about yourself now, you won't be able to love the new you either. Life's not a set of Cinderella shoes you'll be able to fit if you just cut off the right bits and pieces of who you are. It's a long messy process of hurling yourself towards death and hoping to find enough joy and beauty on the way that you're not wasting the trip.
I love you all.