New Year, True You
A new year can be beautiful; it can be fresh and clear—a clean slate. A new year can also be painful. It can feel searing and wrong, like it is moving you further and further away from what you have lost; like you are losing it all over again. Or sometimes it just feels like a let-down, a lot of lead up to a kind of fake rite-of-passage where your shoes pinch and your head hurts in the morning and that midnight make out (or lack thereof) just wasn’t that good. There’s a ton of pressure this time of year for us to reinvent ourselves. For us to finally say goodbye to all the “terrible” things we were/are, that we did/do.
Rebirth is wonderful, and transformation is essential, but shaming ourselves into CHANGE! is not a new leaf at all, and we must be careful how we talk to ourselves (and each other) about what we’re doing, and why. If we are not mindful, our resolutions can take on a puritanical, perfectionistic life of their own.
And suddenly, we can find ourselves cowering in the corner while some righteous drill sergeant of goodness shouts orders like mantras:
“NO MORE CHOCOLATE NO MORE PROCRASTINATING NO MORE NETFLIX! YOU ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH DECORATIVE PILLOWS! I CAN’T EVEN SEE THE FLOOR OF THIS CLOSET YET! AND ALSO LET ME REMIND YOU IT IS CURRENTLY THE SECOND WEEK OF JANUARY MEANING THAT YOU ARE AT LEAST 10 HANDWRITTEN LETTERS BEHIND ALREADY! IF YOU WOULD JUST MEDITATE FOR AN HOUR EVERY MORNING LIKE YOU SAID YOU WOULD, ALL OF THIS WOULD BE EASY.”
I don’t know about y’all, but I am not into that guy. That little dude in my head that this whole new years resolution racket sometimes gives carte blanche to treat me like that? Noooooooooo thank you. He’s fired. And not just because we can’t work together. #toxicworkenvironment
Because he’s really bad at his job. Like, are you motivated by that??? Does that diatribe make you want to make more “positive choices”?
Here’s what I’m doing this year. I’m offering myself (and now you!) this simple reframe:
What if my resolutions aren’t about “bettering” myself, what if they are about being (more of) myself? About embodying, realizing, and living my deepest values and me-ness? Not some abstract, new, “better” me; this one. This current-model O.G. me, but deeper, realer, more alive and less hidden. Not resolving to shine up or replace the “broken” parts, but instead to drive them around town, too, and let them be seen as an integral and worthy part of my whole.
So there it is: I am choosing
resolutions intentions that are inspirational to me, rather than aspirational. And I am choosing them based on my values. My real, true North Stars. That which is core to who I am, and to becoming more of that. So, Yay: values! Sounds like a good place to begin. But how do we define them in a way that is useful, practical, and real?
You’ve probably been in situations where you were supposed to consider, maybe even list or define, your “values”. And most of us are like, “Uh…integrity? Yeah that sounds like a value. Integrity—I value integrity.” And we can write down abstract nouns like this ALL DAY without ever truly connecting with what’s really no-kidding most important to each of us: specifically us—you, me, individually. But the act of exploring, claiming, and living in our real values??? That ish can be revolutionary. Naming our resonant (true and chosen) values vs. making a list of prescribed values—these are two veeeeeeery different things. And that’s where you want to investigate: if exploring “your values” feels boring or rote to you, THOSE ARE NOT YOUR VALUES. Or they could be, and looking them straight in the face when perhaps you haven’t been fully honoring them in your life (or felt able to) is a little too gnarly… Your own real values, I’m willing to bet, will feel juicy and generative and lead you down other rabbit holes re: what you really care about, what you’re great at, what you most admire, and what turns you on. You will probably feel sparked and motivated by them, not stymied and stuck. So, for the sake of show and tell, let’s work through an example:
Let’s say that I value honesty. (I do! We can say it because it’s true.) But for me, “honesty” doesn’t really capture it. And to be clear here, we’re talking about what associations we each have with certain words, not about their literal definition—like, what does honesty mean to me? Or more precisely, what is it that I mean by “honesty” when I say I value it? To me, honesty seems like it’s mostly about telling the truth, whereas the thing that I most value is something less about just what we say, and more about whole realness; about showing up (or showing my true self), and a desire for others to do the same. So a word that’s more resonant for me is authenticity. To me, authenticity means: “Who are you? Okay—be that then.” And the reason it’s so important for me to get down to the truest/best word or phrase as I name my values, is because that distillation process, the process of getting down to the heart of what it is that I value about that thing, that is how I discover what is most core for me. And how I deepen it and bring it forward in my life. What does it mean to be authentic? How can I put that into practice, instead of just liking the idea of it generally?
And this is where we get back around to my
dreams for this new year: what new rituals can I set up, what new actions can I take in my life, that will support me in more fully embodying this authenticity that I cherish—in myself and in others? THIS is the place from which I want my
heart’s desire master plan to be born. (Not, for example, from some shout-y, low budget gym commercial.)
Anyway, you get the idea. What, in your core, do you want to honor this year? What would it look like, in practice, to live more from that place?