The holidaze is/are mainly over, though I imagine that some still may be recovering from the late (all) night debauchery of New Year’s Eve. Granted, the twelve days of Christmas aren’t over until January 6th’s “The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” While the lingering days of Christmas are important in some Christian traditions, for most folks tis the season to get back to normal. The decadence delights of December are exchanged for the less alliterative ordinary routines of January.
Except a lingering liminal spirit remains in the air. Right now, as people slide their lives back into the daily groove or grind, depending on your perspective, they are making (and already breaking) resolutions, goals and commitments for the coming year. They look at what has been, at what is and imagine what might be. I like the subjunctive flavor spicing people’s conversations.
What if I . . .
It is true that many of these resolutions are about losing weight and gaining money. Many resolutions, motivated by guilt or self hate, intend to sacrifice a “sin” as atonement for past misdeeds. A few prohibitive resolutions come from a calmer place in which the resolver understands that s/he has to let go of some things/behaviors to make space for other things/behaviors.
What if I didn’t . . .
Appropriate to the season, there are lots of articles about what separates those who keep their resolutions and those who don’t. To save you time, I give you the gist. Focus on fewer resolutions. Create measurable goals with due dates. Break large goals into sub-goals. Break the sub-goals into small, do-able daily and/or weekly tasks. Expect set backs and conflicts. Be willing to adjust. Avoid all or nothing thinking/doing. Periodically assess your progress. Give yourself rewards for reaching goals – small and large.
How can I . . .
To those who mock the high failure rate of people embarking on new resolutions, I would offer that most resolutions are thought experiments, not plans of action. Being a rather theatrical person I like the subjunctive tense. I think it is good for our brains to spend focused time imagining different possibilities- whether by watching a play or dreaming up resolutions. I also enjoy the profligate quality of our resolutions; making one leads to making another which leads making to twenty more. I also think it helps, from time to time, to let our hopes be greedy. To dream big and wide and wool gather our way to new ways of being/doing.
What if I got my dream job . . .
If you want to change something, eventually you have to make choices and deal with real world limitations and often enough accept that you do not have control of all, or even most of, the variables; frustratingly enough this includes your own body and mind. You cannot do or have it all. This realization may make what you end up doing/having/achieving even sweeter. To get there from here requires focus, commitment and daily actions.
But for a few days more, I ask you to let yourself dream a little dream, float on a sea of possibilities. Imagine what could be. After a few more days of what if, then you can ask yourself now what. But until then, be gloriously greedy for yourself. Be greedy for the world.
What if everyone was well fed, well educated, well housed, well clothed, well loved, well taken care of, and had good work that made communities into thriving, sustainable places. What could I do . . .