Another year, another swarm of resolutions, gym memberships, and eventual disappointment come mid-January (or early February, if you’re really dedicated!)
… this is never how I want to see my New Years Resolutions going, but another year has come and gone with zero goals met once again. I’m guessing if you’ve glanced at what your ambitious pre-2017-self wrote down last year, you’re asking yourself the same question: what went wrong?
My 2017 began in an ideal setting – my family was in the Cameron Highlands (a highland area in Peninsular Malaysia) for a quiet, do-nothing-on-purpose time away before jumping back into school and work. Days were spent reading, praying, and peacefully relaxing: the perfect opportunity to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to the new one. I read New Years blog posts, made New Years lists, and prayed a lot of New Years prayers, reflecting and asking God to guide me as I stepped into 2017.
I set four goals, hoping a smaller amount would be less ambitious and therefore more attainable:
- Be in bed by 10:30pm each night
- Wake up by 6:30am each morning
- Be in the Word each day
- Don’t use social media until ALL work is finished
- Bonus: find more productive break time activities
This was supposed to be easy, right? Sticking to a bedtime and wake-up time, reading the Bible, and getting homework done – that’s not rocket science. And yet here I sit, staring 2018 in the face with no regular sleep schedule, a Bible-in-a-year plan only 3 books in, and the same procrastination habits as before. Why?
It strikes me that I am an idealist.
I listen to productivity podcasts (my favorite is College Info Geek!), read books like Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, and (attempt) productively creative endeavors like keeping a bullet journal. I love to picture this made-up character called my Ideal Self; I love to consider what habits my ideal self keeps, the sorts of hobbies she enjoys, the trendy clothes and the healthy diet and the immaculately clean desk she has. I may or may not have a Pinterest board for productivity-related things. If you’re reading a blog post about someone else’s New Year goals, you’re probably an idealist, too.
We spend so much of our time picturing places we want to be, habits we want to be building, business we want to be doing; and we don’t stop to consider the stuff we’re already doing, just doing poorly. What does that mean?
I have a lot of homework to do; but I try to work with friends or in noisy places or at my job, and it doesn’t get done very quickly. I keep a bullet journal to stay organized; but I don’t pull it out regularly to actually check the things I need to get done. I eat three meals a day in my university’s cafeteria; but I don’t make the healthiest of food choices a vast majority of the time.
And it strikes me – why am I trying to add things to my life when I should be focusing on the things that are already a part of it?
We get so distracted setting shiny new goals – work out three times a week, read my Bible every day, post on my blog at least once a month – that we forget to focus on making the most out of the time we already have. My 2017 goals were left in the lurch as soon as something else looked more fun to try; so instead of getting better sleep, getting my work done, and reading my Bible, I tried and failed to eat healthy, tried and failed to keep a blog active, tried and failed to hit my Goodreads book goal… I tried and failed at a lot of things.
As I write this, February stares me in the face, her cold winds chilling me to the bone as I consider my shiny new 2018 goals come and gone (bedtime, Bible, and going Paleo for the month of January – all three unsuccessfully implemented). I could sigh and resign myself to forever chasing after fun new productivity hacks and exciting lifestyle trends; or I could concentrate of what’s already here to change.
So my new New Years’ Resolution? No more new habits. No more new self-induced pressures to do things. Just… focusing on what’s already in front of me.
Will I still try things? For sure. I’ve always wanted to be a wake-up-early-bird; maybe I’ll try a 6:30 am morning routine (and probably stop after a week.) Maybe I’ll get some friends to drag me to the gym every once in a while. Maybe I’ll try Paleo for 3 days again. (Yeah, I only lasted 3 days…)
But whatever I decide to do, I’m not going to put pressure on myself to stick with it. For now, it’s about the life I already have. 🙂
So farewell, Ideal Self – hopefully I’ll see you someday!