I’m a big believer in new year’s resolutions. I’ve written about it a lot in the past here, here and here for example. Some of the biggest and best changes I’ve made in my life started as a humble new year’s resolution.
This new year’s is different. This is my last new year’s in my 30’s and reflecting back on the last decade so much has changed. If you would have told me in 2013 that I would be where I am now and be happy I don’t think I would have believed it.
So what if you don’t really like resolutions or don’t think you have any to make? What do you do then?
Resolutions can be a great thing
I’ve resolved to quit bad habits, get fit, pay off debt, eat better, do more professionally, take better care of my mental health and work on my sleep. I’ve resolved lots of things that worked out and a few that didn’t get done over the years.
Even though I’m not setting traditional resolutions this year I’m sure I will be again in years to come. It’s not to say that everything in my life this year is perfect and couldn’t benefit from a tweak or two. But I think it’s time for me to just coast for a year.
I’ve always viewed resolutions as a year long project which takes some of the day to day pressure off. Plenty of those resolutions are responsible for positive trajectories in my life but this year I’m just not feeling it. That could be where you are at too! Maybe it’s the fact that a decade for me is coming to a close but I find myself looking back and forward with longer timelines this year.
Take a longer view looking back
Like a lot of us the older I get the shorter a year seems. As I said before this is the year that my thirties will come to a close, legally at least, I plan on holding onto the spirit for a while yet. A new year might be dawning but I find myself thinking back exactly 10 years to when my 20’s were coming to an end.
I remember thinking then that I was fine with where I was at 30 but I knew I wouldn’t feel that way if nothing else changed by the time I turned 40. I also had a pretty solid plan of exactly where I was going and how to get there. In my mind at least it was pretty set in stone.
Well that plan didn’t happen at all and instead a whole new path opened up. There was a list of things then that I needed to do and things I needed to be worried about. Instead I ended up doing a totally different list of things and the things I’ve worried the most about in the last decade hadn’t happened yet.
All of my biggest problems then got solved and some new ones came up and got solved too. Looking back good came out from all of them but I don’t remember feeling that way at the time.
In my 30’s I did a lot of hard work on myself often starting out with new year’s resolutions. In a lot of ways I’m not living the same life I was at 29 that I am now. I was going to say in that last sentence that I’m not the same person I was then but that’s just not true.
The same things that made me accomplish things in my 20’s didn’t stop being true in my 30’s just because I finished one big thing. Chances are there were some less desirable qualities to me then and those are probably still with me too.
I’ve done at least 4 things in the last decade that were either just as hard or a big deal as getting that degree. By doing more than one big thing and not devoting my whole soul to that my life has gotten so much bigger.
I’m realizing that my 30’s were the decade I finally gained some real confidence. Ten years ago if someone said they thought I couldn’t do something I would obsess about that. At the end of my 30’s I’m likely to say ‘get out of my way then and watch this!’
I’ve finally found that inner voice that says you got this, even in the most frustrating moments.
I’m sure the next decade will have just as many struggles and changes as the last, whether I want it to or not. But going into my 40’s if nothing changes for the next 10 years in my life that would be mostly fine too.
Take a longer view looking forward
This year I’m thinking more about intentions rather than resolutions. I would argue that intentions take longer than a year or that there really isn’t concrete steps you can take to get there. But they are reflected in those little choices you make day to day when the situation presents itself.
For example I want my life to keep getting bigger in a decade where peoples’ lives tend to get smaller. I want a wider social circle outside of work and family in 10 years compared to now. While I can and do say ‘no, don’t sign me up for that’ sometimes now I think I could do more in that regard. Last but not least I’ve realized tuning out the noise in other’s lives and opinions on mine is way more peaceful, but I think it could get even quieter over here.
See, I can’t really sign up for those things or make an actionable list but rather guide the ship in those directions over time. With all the resolutions I’ve made in the past I have a pretty good assortment of systems in place and healthy choices are for the most part habits now. For this year I think I’m just going to let those sink in a little deeper.
If you’re doing resolutions this year I personally think that’s a great thing! I’m there with you most years. If not that’s cool too. Either way I believe that not taking some time to think about life as the calendar flips over to another year is a missed opportunity.