The first few weeks of January are an optimistic period. Fresh starts dominate. Goal setting ensues. Minds are aflutter with dreams and expectations.
I know the feeling of unbridled enthusiasm for New Year resolutions. In years gone by, I’ve written down goals and worked hard — at least for a while — to achieve them. Although some plans reached fruition, others faded away in the twilight of good intentions. Overall, step-by-step and year-by-year, positive strides have been achieved. Progress, though slow, is progress nonetheless.
This year, however, I’m doing things differently. Instead of pensively striving to contemplate tomorrows, I want to meet the future without tethers or ties. I have no printed list of proposals. No resolute statements or carefully mapped out plans. I want to see what it’s like to experience the next 11 months unleashed from a list of grand promises and ideals.
If it sounds like an excuse for not making New Year resolutions, maybe it is, but for a planner like me it’s also a scary proposition. I’ve always considered goal setting an essential part of personal growth. In my mind, plans and accomplishments go hand-in-hand. Without hard work and determination, I’ve always believed dreams stagnate and aspirations dwindle.
For decades, the beginning of January found me writing down a list of goals for the year ahead. I would review them regularly, dating and placing checkmarks to indicate when expectations were met.
And yet, there comes a time in life when it feels right to take a break. Instead of working so hard to have more — more material objects or more achievements — it seems important to work harder at enjoying what you have. That’s what I want to do in 2016. I want to do less and enjoy it more. I want to be listless in the sense of being free from expectations and penned-out plans. At the same time, I want to be open to whatever opportunities and experiences come along.
This year, I’m taking a break from tradition. I’m allowing myself a little leeway and letting go of expectations. If you are among the multitude making New Year resolutions, I applaud your efforts. I hope you attain as many of your objectives as possible and for those resolutions that fail to thrive, I hope you don’t fault yourself harshly. It’s important to remember that sometimes we learn as much — if not more — from our failures as we do from our successes.
As for me, I’m flying free for the first time in years. The first few weeks of January are an optimistic period and I’m excited to see what each new day brings.