Two weeks or so into the New Year many may be ruefully reconsidering their new year’s resolutions, even if only in the privacy of their own thoughts. A number may have already “failed” to keep resolutions and/or decided that they are too ambitious to achieve. These first days can be heavy with determination, often too much so. The fifteenth was a potent day astrologically: a New Moon and solar eclipse as well as the day that Mercury turned direct after its last bout of retrograde motion. A number of astrologers noted that it felt like the true beginning of the year, so one may use that as an excuse for getting a late start on the goals for 2010 and mark one’s progress from then.
I have a general strategy to suggest for dealing with the stress of falling off the wagon in regards to resolutions. It is one that I try to employ myself when I am feeling weak in resolve – or at least a rationale that I use in retrospect, facing my own shortcomings. Consider your resolutions, especially the ones that have you chafing, and choose to break them - some or all - deliberately. If you can I encourage you to enjoy doing so, relishing in the bad behavior or habits. It is OK. Show yourself that the worst can happen, you can wallow in the state of being only human. You can still return to your new practice, get back on the horse. You may find that you have already begun to lose the taste for that which you decided was not good for you. Or, perhaps, you might realize that your resolution is one that you do not really desire or one that you need to refine. By breaking your new rule at the outset you can test your resolve and strengthen it. By forcing “the worst that can happen” you can start again with a clearer sense of whether your goal is suitable for this moment in time, how ready you are to undertake your planned changes and what it will take for you to move forward. Maimonides is famous for noting that true repentance occurs when one finds oneself in the same situation and does not repeat the same behavior. His point is that one has to face the same temptations and not repeat the same mistakes. With him in one’s ear it might be easier to forego the ice cream, keep oneself from shouting or haul out of bed for morning exercise. This strategy of mine offers a variation on that scenario, with a more forgiving twist. We humans tend to rely on our foibles and feebleness in order to excuse ourselves when we fall down on our intentions or high idealistic standards. Much personal growth literature would counter such weakness or fallibility with the kind of advice that I am offering, albeit with the truism that one can reform at any time. All too true, but I would add that the importance of experience as education and the pull of one’s intuition suggest that being drawn to old behaviors may also be purposeful; you may have something else to recognize or realize from succumbing. So do so, enjoy it, but pay attention to what you learn about yourself up until that moment and the changes that are already underway.
I went to Barnes and Noble over the weekend and was surprised that the sale table of calendars contained none of the business-looking datebooks or planners that Barnes and Noble publishes. What were left were wall calendars and page-a-day ones. Were all of the ones that I was looking for sold out? I find that unlikely and so this absence is a mystery to me. Wondering about it led me to think about all of the different kinds of available calendars and how they help us shape the plans of our daily lives. What would one look like if it was focused on helping us measure our goals and desires, how much we see ourselves improving and what steps we feel we need to take next? Lately I have also found myself having myriad discussions about how to self-motivate, especially important for those of us whose work lives are not typical, an increasingly growing group. More and more I describe the importance of making fun, creating a game and figuring out what sorts of counting and accounting motivate you. Improving and evolving need not be a chore and it is a process I think well worth documenting, even if just to yourself.
©2010 Leah Strigler