The Antidote to New Year's Resolutions
Having a long-term vision of the future and goal setting to achieve that is pointless.
Bold statement? It may sound defeatist but the truth is we don’t have control of the future. The only two things we control are our thoughts and our actions. No amount of planning or goal setting is going to get us to our desired destinations if external variables aren’t playing ball, so let’s all just chill out a bit.
I had my life all mapped out five years ago and New Year was an important time to reflect, evaluate and set goals for the following year based on my achievements and perceived failings. At that time I was in a happy relationship and career climbing to buy me the lifestyle I was striving for. Cancer was the curve ball that ruined everything – all my plans had been scuppered overnight.
I got better and rebuilt my life again but had given up on my vision for the future. I had dealt with the unwanted feelings of unfamiliarity and uncertainty that cancer brings and the experience re-shaped my outlook entirely.
“Uncertainty is where things happen. It is where the opportunities — for success, for happiness, for really living — are waiting.”
I continue to set myself short-term goals that align with who I am, what I value and ultimately what makes me feel good. Recently I wrote a blog about my struggles with anxiety and the response was incredible – so many people could relate to it – but that got me thinking about resolutions.
We’re in the midst of an anxiety epidemic that all comes down to the expectations we place on ourselves to live a positive, happy life ALL. THE. TIME.
It’s no longer acceptable to feel bad or a bit miserable anymore, and even less so to express it publicly. Everything is screaming for us to live in a constant state of happiness and if you don’t, you feel even worse.
I feel bad for feeling bad, but why shouldn’t I feel OK about feeling bad sometimes?
If we go into 2017 obsessing over goals and setting expectations that serve to lessen our discomfort with uncertainty, isn’t that going to make it worse?
My resolution for 2017 is a simple one:
To give myself a break
· Give up.
· Try less hard.
· Be wrong.
· Lower my standards.
· Care less.
"Of all the disappointments in life, there isn’t a kind more hazardous to happiness and more toxic to the soul than disappointing ourselves as we fail to live up to our own ideals and expectations."
If we keep envisaging the future and the illusion of a fairy tale ending we’re missing all the potentially new – and better - directions that might be possible in life.
If I hadn’t survived cancer, I wouldn’t have quit my job, I wouldn’t have started paddle boarding and I wouldn’t be living the life I am now. Life’s ambiguities and doubts are what living is about.
No matter how hard we try to create perfection in 2017 there’s going to be challenges, failings and under achievements for all us - because that’s the reality of life.
Let’s go into 2017 and embrace negativity and celebrate our failures, setbacks and disappointments because these will undoubtedly be the things that we’ll grow from the most.