While perusing the internet over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an awful lot of New Year’s resolution-haters out there. I agree with many of the anti-resolution arguments—January 1st is totally arbitrary, they can make people feel bad, and, most importantly, most people don’t stick to them anyway.
But you know what I say to all of that?
Who cares? Resolutions are fun.
Seriously. I enjoy making lists and plans, and, yeah, I do it all year long, but I do it especially hard in January. The fun of the holidays is over and the cold weather has lost its charm, so I need a little pick-me-up. A cup of tea and a little goal-setting usually does the trick.
What’s my favorite flavor of resolution-ing? I love the “theme for the year” style, because it takes care of the problem of not meeting your goals. If you set a theme, there’s no winning or losing, there’s only identifying opportunities to manifest that theme.
Last year my theme was Math. I know that probably makes a lot of people feel terribly sleepy all of a sudden, but it was actually a great theme. I read several fascinating books, upped my Rubik’s Cube game, played a lot of expert-level Sudoku, learned the Doomsday Algorithm, and, the pièce-de-résistance—I passed an online Calculus course that tested my smarts in a way that I hadn’t encountered in years.
There are also a few things I started and didn’t finish—two additional online courses turned out to be too much of a time commitment. But I didn’t feel guilty, or that I’d failed, because there’s no wrong way to do a theme!
This year my theme scares the crap out of me, and that’s why I picked it. It’s “performing.” As in, get on stage and do something in front of people. As in, chasing the spotlight. As in, the stuff nightmares are made of.
I sort of eased into it. Near the end of 2013 I participated in something called “Ladies Rock Camp” which combines the fun of being a lady with music and camp. One Sunday afternoon I found myself standing behind a keyboard on stage at Mississippi Studios in Northeast Portland. There were bright lights. There were people with expectant looks on their faces. There was even a microphone in front of me. As far as I can tell, a microphone is a device designed to make your mistakes louder.
I won’t bore you with the details, but the end of the story is that I’m still alive. I played a song with my three bandmates, and it did not kill me.
And now 2014 is here, ready for that lesson to be applied over and over again. I don’t know the specifics—maybe there’s karaoke in my future, or an improv class, or persuading a bar owner to let me host a trivia night, who knows? What I do know is having a theme is like setting up an alert for my brain. If an opportunity to perform turns up, I’m more likely to register it and take advantage of it.
A theme for the year (or for the month, if that’s your preferred horizon) is just another way of being intentional about your life, and inviting more good stuff in. Try it!
For those of you who are pro-resolutions, consider participating in our New Year’s Resolution Challenge. You have until January 15th to send us your playful, surprising, and adventurous resolutions for 2014. We’ll help keep you motivated during the year and we’ll send you a special treat if you meet your goals.