Here it is February 15th, and I’m just now getting around to talking about New Year’s resolutions, which should give you a clue as to how I’m feeling about them this year: ambivalent. Usually, I love New Year’s resolutions. I love setting them, planning out how to tackle them, and checking in with them all year long. This year, I just feel meh about setting goals. It’s been a hectic, roller-coastery few years, and I sort of feel like I need a break.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I didn’t set resolutions one year. Well, that’s not exactly true – I did, but I only had one resolution. The year was 2006, and my resolution was to pass the Bar. That was it. That was my only goal for the year. Well, I guess that and graduate law school and find a job, but I knew the one was going to happen and I trusted the other. Both worked out. And so did the Bar thing. And I remember the week after I took the exam: my friend Jenn and I drove up to our pal Seth’s house on Lake George. We swam and paddled around in Seth’s kayaks and ate ice cream and barbequed and listened to the Minne-ha-ha fire a fake cannon at the next door neighbors and watched the sunset and I thought: “I have nothing else going on this year.” It felt good.
When I sat down and started thinking about what I wanted my 2019 to look like, I realized that I didn’t want to make a list of concrete goals or resolutions, like I have the past few years. It has been so hectic and exhausting, and to be honest, I’m a little bit burnt out and I need to refocus. So I decided that this year, I am only going to have one goal: do more of the stuff that makes me happy, and less of the stuff that bums me out.
I don’t even know what that looks like, but I do have some ideas. I would like to be more focused and present, to give my undivided attention to whatever I happen to be doing at the time. Less worrying about the kids’ school performance or social calendars when I’m at work. Less connected to the office when I’m at home. (Hey – I’m a realist. I know that I can’t totally disengage from work in the evenings, and that sometimes personal stuff pops up during the day and I have to deal with it.) I’d like to be on my phone less, a lot less. I’d also like to grant less mental real estate to the energy vampires. What I’m saying, I guess, is that I want to get back to a simpler frame of mind and a less distracted lifestyle.
Along those lines, I did want a word for the year, and I think I have one. It hasn’t stormed into my life the way home did in 2016, or whispered to my heart like gather in 2017, and it doesn’t feel necessary like begin in 2018. But consistent with my one goal of focusing on the important and life-affirming stuff and whittling away at the distractions, the word that I seem to want to follow in 2019 is element. Which means… what, exactly? I’m not sure, but I look forward to finding out.
I’d like to strip away the unnecessary stuff and pare life down to its elements – to the important things and the things that mean something – to cut through noise and clutter and emotional adverse possession by people and situations that don’t deserve my attention. I’d also like to spend as much time in nature as possible – that is to say, in my element, and out in the elements – connecting with what is true and meaningful and cutting out the digital noise and constant clamoring that makes me so anxious. So I think that’s what that means, but we’ll see.
Did you set goals for 2019, or are you taking a madcap approach to your resolutions this year?