i’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to change and what it takes to get there. i guess january sort of does that for me- the newness of a year and the resolutions we often create to be better. i think change is one of those things we are often scared of, but also always looking forward to. it’s one of those things that we wish would happen, but don’t necessarily take responsibility for to see that it does. if we are honest with ourselves, we could probably say we have all succeeded in some efforts to change and have given up on others. but what i wonder about is long-lasting transformation; why we stop before we get there, and on other occasions, why we decide to keep going. i think our answers are probably similar and different from one another, but most importantly, i just think we should be asking ourselves these questions.
this year i brought in the new year with acrobats, men twirling fire, balancing acts, and the crash of waves coming in from the ocean. i was in mexico at a new year’s eve dinner when the hosts asked us to take a slip of paper from the table. i expected them to ask us to write down a new year’s resolution, instead, they asked us to record something that we would like to leave behind. i could have put down a lot of things: stress, unhealthy eating, particularly bad moments, or decisions i would have liked to change. in the end, i decided i wanted to let go of something that kept me from moving forward.
and i remember standing there in between two ice sculptures, recognizing and allowing myself to be at a crossroads. in between two places in time: one foot in 2013, the other in 2014. grateful that i’ve become the kind of person that would rather look towards the future than the past. at 11:59pm, we sang “sha-na-na, hey, hey, hey, good-bye” in unison. the host pushed the 2013 ice sculpture to the ground and we watched it shatter, melt, and then disappear. and then it was midnight, fireworks were going off, wine glasses were clinking, and we made toasts to each other for one more good year. hugs all around. and a new year’s kiss.
i had three different visuals and three different sets of lists for new year’s resolutions- a little excessive, i know. i made all of these complicated plans and formulas for how i planned to accomplish them all. i separated the year in to months, and goals into domains. i unintentionally made it as complicated as possible and spent a night trying to figure out how i could successfully accomplish them all. and then in a few serendipitous moments, it all changed. that happens sometimes, you think you have it all figured out and then someone prints you off a quote on a tattered piece of paper and then you have a conversation with a stranger and everything changes.
this year i’ve decided to focus on two things: what i want to let go of from 2013 and what i want to bring forward in 2014.
excuses and commitment.
excuses. my favorites are “i’m too tired,” “i don’t have enough time,” “i’ll do it tomorrow,” and “i deserve a break.” i recognize that all of these can be both an excuse and an actual experience. some days it is more useful for me to rest than it is to to stay up late working on a project or force myself to work out. and sometimes i do need to prioritize my tasks and save some items for the next day. but in reality, the excuses i am talking about are the ones that act as a little voice that pull us away from the finish line. giving into excuses is kind of like putting roadblocks up on your own journey, they are just another obstacle you’ll eventually have to tear down. so instead of excuses, i’m going to be more honest with myself and my actions. i am going to hold myself accountable for the progress i do and don’t make. because at the end of the day, i don’t want to be the person listing all of the reasons as to why they never finished the race, i want to the be the person panting at the finish line, internally proud of the work and process it took to get there.
and as for you 2014, it is going to be a year of commitment. commitment to following through with plans and marking all of the things off my lists. sticking to it. commitment to relationships with friends, family, strangers, and my spiritual beliefs. commitment to serving my purpose and realizing my personal and professional goals. commitment to movement. i have plenty of specific things i plan to work on, but this year i want to practice centering my energy towards a certain focus. a commitment is a promise or a pledge, an obligation. and i’m making it to myself. and in the process of making it to myself, i’ll actually fulfill it in my interactions with everyone i encounter.
i’m not an expert on change, but here’s what i know:
1. in the process of changing, we must fight the urge to stay the same.
2. change requires focused, continued, and disciplined effort.
3. setting specific, measurable goals helps. and holding yourself accountable helps too.
4. i think change is both about doing something different and becoming someone different. it’s important to be open to both.
5. be persistent. change takes time but it will come. and you will be glad that you didn’t give up.
6. change happens when you decide to keep doing all of those things you no longer want to do.
7. in the process of moving forward, it often becomes necessary to let some things go.