I make New Year’s resolutions. I love them. But not everyone feels the same way. For many people, resolutions feel forced, silly, or doomed to fail. I get that.
This website is the result of a resolution that stuck back in 2008. However, I’m not always so lucky (or dedicated). What I’ve come to believe is that the important stuff sticks like vermicelli noodles. The less essential, half-hearted, or nice-in-theory-but-not-in-practice resolutions can fall away (usually by the month of March).
The resolution to start Om Gal led me to leave corporate gigs in marketing at a glossy magazine and, later, a media start-up and finally strike out on my own as a solopreneur yoga teacher and writer. My commitment to the blog morphed into a book deal. (Admittedly, this was the plan I always had and could never speak aloud). These were life dreams, and I clung to them like Rose Dawson to that piece of wood floating in the ocean at the end of Titanic. No one writes or makes music or creates art to pay rent. We do it because we must. It is essential to who we are.
Also, we must floss. One year, my resolution was to floss more. That one stuck, too, thankfully. Teeth are pretty essential.
I did not read a poem each day for the 365 days of 2012. I started strong. I read a lot more poetry that year, but, honestly, it was never essential to my being. It never became habit. So, I flunked daily poetry reading. I’m OK that.
I also flunked giving up sugar. That was a pledge of mine many years ago, likely after reading too many glossy magazines quoting the likes of Madonna and famously regimented celebrities with staffs of personal chefs, nutritionists, trainers, etc. That’s not me. My life requires a certain quota of dried mango and chocolate covered caramels with sea salt to function. I know this about myself now.
Some people hate resolutions or at least prefer that we all admit that the jig is up. I respect this approach, too. Being a yogi or happy human requires that we know ourselves. Who we are. What makes us tick. What doesn’t. How we want to feel. When we don’t know this stuff, we feel unsettled. We’re itchy, bitchy, or sad. We distract ourselves– with alcohol, the Internet, or, in my case, resolutions to read poetry every day. It goes without saying that none of these things are bad, independently. They’re just counterproductive when we inwardly know we’re using them to dance around the things we really want or need in life.
Which brings me to a favorite exercise I started doing last year (in addition to making resolutions). This quick moment of self-reflection and awareness can help strengthen your in-progress resolutions, or it’s a nice way to forgo that whole charade (if that’s how it feels to you) and proceed directly to what will matter most this year: how do you want to feel? What do you want 2014 to be? If you can focus on that, verbalize the words, crystallize for yourself what it might look like, and clarify how those feelings would feel in your body, you are far more likely to get there.
Here’s what you do:
On a sheet of paper, in a journal, or in a fresh memo on your smartphone, write the following: I want this year to be… Then, make a list. Don’t scrutinize. Don’t censor. This list is only for you. Set those desires in motion by putting them down in black and white. Make them your spiritual GPS. When you falter throughout the year, revisit your list. Like the ideal resolution (one that sticks), the perfect non-resolution is not a thankless chore but a good habit you’d be happy to have, not a rule to make you feel small and inept but a raft to hold you up. A light to guide your way. A way of being that cannot be found in a magazine or on a scale.
You know what you want this year to be. Go make it happen.