I didn't make any New Year's resolutions this year. At least, not the kind I used to make. I used to make long, detailed lists of goals once New Year's rolled around; requirements for changes I had to make, in order to become an improved version of myself. But they never really worked; instead of feeling exciting, they just felt stressful. I had a list of chores I had to do each day, or else I'd beat myself up. Eventually I'd just give up. Not a good system.
I still want to make changes, of course. I still like the idea of identifying what I can improve and working toward my goals. But this year, my approach is completely different. I don't want to make a to-do list of items I must complete in order to love myself. I want to work on loving the self I lready am, instead of working toward a fictional "best self" that I envision. So, yes, I have goals for this year-- taking charge of my financial situation and taking care of my body in ways that'll energize me-- and I'm excited about moving toward those goals. But that's just the thing: I'm moving toward them. I'm not expecting myself to already have them figured out. I'm not expecting myself to make "perfect" choices every time. I'm focusing most on enjoying each present moment, on being fully alive. And when I feel that present and alive? That's when I make the choices I'm proud of.
That's why my motto this year is "direction, not perfection". I'm not interested in attempting to be perfect; I already know it's futile, so why try? But I am interested in moving in new directions, in forward motion, in momentum. I am interested in going new places, and surprising myself with what I'm capable of. I'm interested in new experiences. I'm interested in working toward my goals-- and that includes all the hiccups along the way. Every time I repeat this mantra to myself, I feel focused and clear. I just think where I want to go, and I point myself in that direction. And I do my best to enjoy the long, beautiful, messy ride.
We often feel we have something to prove; that if we make a list of all the things we must be and do, and then accomplish them, we'll somehow prove that we're good people. But there's nothing to prove; there is nobody keeping score. There is only us, here, in our lives, trying our best, inevitably struggling. What if you're already enough, even without your list of resolutions? Isn't that a more empowered place to work from? Once we abandon the false idea of perfection, we can work from exactly where we are. We can begin from our present place in life, and position ourselves toward the direction we wish to move in. Direction, not perfection. Plus, you know, it rhymes.
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Top photo via Flickr/Moyan Brenn