I’ve always had mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. As a lifelong perfectionist, I don’t need another reason to push myself to a breaking point, or something else to beat myself up about if I don’t do it perfectly. So, for many years, I didn’t set New Year’s resolutions.
Then, a few years ago, I changed things up and decided to do a riff on resolutions. Instead of making specific goals, I chose a word to embrace. 2016 was “bravery” and it was awesome. Any time I felt afraid to take a risk, I framed it as working on bravery and felt so proud when I did it. I did things like saying I love you first, starting a monthly Ted Talk-style event at work and asking for a promotion. When the year was over I told myself, “OK, you’re brave now.” And I truly believed it.
After that was “self-love” (2017) and “cut corners” (2018 — because cutting a few corners is the perfect antidote for an organization junky).
I’ve come up with my word for 2019 and asked my co-founders for their thoughts on resolutions, too.
Sarah’s resolution: Be authentic.
This year, I’ve decided my word is “authentic.” After a travel-filled fall, I hit a point where I had almost no energy left for social interactions. I’ve always thought of myself as an extrovert, so this was jarring. But I’ve realized over the last few months that it’s not interacting with people that wears me out, it’s the expectation I put on myself to act a certain way or please others. For example, it’s easy for me to slip into thinking that I always have to be in a good mood, or at least act like I am, and contribute to conversations even when I’m not interested. And I just don’t. My true friends will love me when I’m in a shit mood and don’t have a smart or funny thing to say.
I’d also like to speak up more often when something seems wrong (racist, sexist, whatever). I sometimes feel uneasy doing this, but the truth is I don’t have much to risk other than some potential discomfort — I don’t fear being assaulted or fired or arrested for saying what I think. People of color have it WAY harder as they often have to code switch (change the way they talk and act) to fit into and survive in our white-dominant culture. Partly because of the amount privilege I have, I want to let go of excuses I make to not speak up about things that don’t sit right with me (plus I’m brave now, remember?).
I like the idea of being truly honest with people and spending most of my time doing and talking about things that really matter to me. At the very least, I’m determined to put myself in fewer situations where I feel like I can’t be me.
Jen’s resolution: Be intentional.
I like to make resolutions on my birthday in May instead of in January. I can never seem to find the inspiration or energy for resolutions (or for anything at all) in the dead of winter, but the beginning of my own personal new year falls in the spring, which my eighth grade English teacher would tell you is symbolic of new beginnings and rebirth anyway. So there you go.
However, in the spirit of this article, I will embrace New Year’s resolutions and also copy Sarah by picking a word because, like I said, I’m short on inspiration this time of year. In 2019, I want to focus on intention: setting intentions, staying true to my intention — all the popular turns of phrase around intentionality.
I often let things happen and then make my decisions based on the circumstances that fall at my feet, instead of first determining what I want and then pursuing that. An example would be some of the jobs I’ve taken over the years just because a recruiter contacted me on the right day. So this resolution is about deciding what I want, making decisions and following through. Pursuing clients I want to work with. Finishing stories I’ve started to write. Setting and holding myself accountable for specific goals. Maybe even taking real risks if I believe in the outcome. I’m OK with failure if it’s for a good reason.
So that’s it: In 2019, I resolve to leave less of my life up to chance.
Alyssa’s resolution: Don’t make resolutions.
Similar to Jen, I like to make resolutions on my birthday (which is January 3, so more a procrastination technique in my case). I used to keep an Excel spreadsheet with color-coded three-, six- and nine-month goals that all built upon each other. I would print the spreadsheet, meticulously cut out my goals and place them in the back of my pocket-sized black Moleskine to carry with me everywhere I’d go. The business school student in me was so proud! I’d take them out on planes, trains and buses to track my progress. Yes. I was THAT person. And proud of it.
In 2019, I want to challenge myself to skip the resolutions, be more present and try not to shape my life so scrupulously. In 2018, I learned you can’t plan for everything (your husband getting a job in a new city, getting burned out at work, starting a blog with three amazing women), and who I am in moments of uncertainty can shape me more than my career, my relationships or even my meditation practice. Plus, constantly checking in on goals — one of my responsibilities at work — can be exhausting. So, in 2019, I’m resolved to resolve less. (And yes, I’m aware this is a resolution in itself.)
Amy’s resolution: Achieve three specific goals.
I’m still deciding whether or not I want an overarching resolution or mantra for 2019. In the meantime, I’ve set some specific goals for myself. They are to:
Use my 2019 LifeTracker Planner, and not just for the first two months of the year. I’m notorious for starting planners and journals with gusto and then abandoning them because I don’t work them into my daily routine. This year I’m going to try something different and actually schedule 15 minutes every morning to work in the LifeTracker.
Cook one new recipe with my husband every month. We have a bunch of favorite cooking websites (like Sprouted Kitchen and Serious Eats) and dozens of cookbooks (I got “How to Eat a Peach” for my birthday and can’t wait to try it) that we rarely use. We make the same handful of recipes all the time, and I miss being more adventurous and creative in the kitchen. Cooking something new for ourselves once a month will be a fun stay-at-home date and feels like a realistic time commitment. To make sure we stick to this goal, we’ll pick a recipe at the start of each month and schedule the night we plan to make it.
Kick up into a handstand daily. Before I had my 10-month-old, I spent a few minutes every day practicing handstands. Positioning your head below your heart (i.e., “inverting”) stimulates your circulation, giving you a quick boost of energy. Handstands are also a fun and challenging way to activate muscles all over your body. I’m really out of practice and would like to make it a daily ritual again. Committing to doing this daily is more practical right now than saying I’m going to make it to a yoga class X times per week, given my work and mom schedules.
Readers: What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions? Are you making any this year? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.