Words & Resolutions

One of the benefits that (hopefully) comes with age is less rigidity in your perspectives of the world. I know I have often been (obnoxiously) stubborn when it came to my own dogmatic decrees in the past. Now, whether it’s age, therapy, or surviving a global pandemic — or a combination of all three — there are many I’ve started to loosen the reins on or just let go of entirely. For example, in the past, I have (adamantly and inflexibly) argued the following:

  • Christmas decorations CANNOT be up until the day AFTER Thanksgiving
  • Christmas decorations MUST be down by New Year’s Eve
  • New Year’s Resolutions are AMAZING
  • New Year’s Resolutions are DUMB
  • New Year’s Resolutions are TOO LIMITING and should be replaced with a New Year WORD instead
  • New Year’s Words don’t DO ANYTHING and you should set resolutions instead.
  • New Year’s Eve is the OFFICIAL fresh start, so set your words/resolutions THEN
  • Why wait until New Year’s Eve? Set resolutions/words ALL YEAR LONG!

And so on, and so on, and so on. So, yes, you can see my own contradictions and hypocrisy, and why I am letting go of such fanatical rules around holidays and traditions (or at least valiantly trying to).

Here’s where I’m at now: We took down our Halloween decorations and put up our Christmas decorations during the first week of November. Today, I’m planning on taking Christmas decorations – at least those inside – down and getting them packed away again. I picked a word of the year and I set some “resolutions” too. That’s what is working for me this year. I don’t expect anyone else to do it. I’m not sharing to evangelize my way of doing things; I’m sharing just to share. Before I get to that, though, a little backstory…

For as long as I can remember, New Year’s Eve has been (and continues to be) my favorite holiday. There could be any number of reasons why I suppose. Perhaps because it feels like one of the few truly secular holidays that transcends nation and religion? I’d like to believe there’s a deep meaning that seeded it in me somewhere, but honestly, I just like it. I like new beginnings. I like (the concept more than the reality of) glitter. I like sparkling apple cider and I like champagne. I like fresh starts. I like the multitude of ways I’ve celebrated it over the years, whether with family or friends or a bunch of strangers at an “all-ages party” in a mall somewhere nearish to Midtown Manhattan (ah, to be 15 in 1998 again…).

And, yes, it is entirely possible for you to pick any day to be your own personal “fresh start” day. I get that (now). But it’s also okay if you pick January 1 as that fresh start day. Especially here in the US, companies sure like to help make that easy, what with all the sales on all sorts of resolution-y products that abound. And yes, you can still have a “Fresh Start” with a tree in the corner and lights on the trim of your house. I don’t want those things up for my fresh start, but it’s cool if you do. (Again, this might seem obvious to some people, but believe me — it’s growth for me to be able to say that. I spent many years getting SO frustrated when it felt like the whole neighborhood still had Santa inflatables in their yards on January 10thbut I’m getting over that.)

So, like I said, today the Christmas decor comes down. In fact, my laundry just buzzed letting me know all the Christmas blankets are dry and it’s time to swap the towels & tablecloth over. One moment please. (Yes, I am writing this in real-time, and yes, I am stepping away from the keyboard right now.) Okay, I’m back. My dining room table is currently piled high with decor from other rooms. I’m trying to get all the “big stuff” down first, and then the ornaments/tree will be last.

I’ve also already picked my WORD for 2022. This is something I started doing in lieu of resolutions in 2015. My past words have been:

  • 2015: Core
  • 2016: Focus
  • 2017: Shine
  • 2018: Open
  • 2019: Embrace
  • 2020: Align
  • 2021: Compose

While I’m not always successful at it, I do like picking a word that is both a verb and a noun. It doesn’t always work out that way, but for 2022, it did. My Word of the Year for 2022 is PLAY.

I picked PLAY because I knew I wanted a word that felt happy and energetic. I wanted a word that felt freeing. I wanted a word that felt active. I also wanted a word that would somehow connect to my personal journey as a writer and a performer. PLAY encompasses all of those things and more for me.

Now, this year, I’ve gone back to…well, I won’t even say they’re really “resolutions” in the way that New Year’s Resolutions are often advertised. I’m not doing Dry January or trying to lose a certain number of pounds or save a certain number of dollars. I’m not “New Year/New Me”-ing myself. If those are the types of resolutions you want to set and they’re the types that work for you, go forth and [insert deity/concept of your choosing] bless.

What does work for me is finding tools/habits/systems that can support me in my overarching goals for myself. That’s part of why I’m cleaning up Christmas decor today and embarking on some big organizing projects over the next week — so things are set up and ready to go before we get to New Year’s. I’ve also been using the app/site Habitica to track habits I want to develop or continue, as well as habits I want to cut back on. So, this week, I’m sitting down and inputting the new habits/systems I want to use more in 2022.

Here’s an example: I’m part of a meal prep/plan service that I would like to use more in 2022. So, in Habitica, I’ve added things like “Search/Save New Recipes” as a monthly task, and “Inventory Pantry/Fridge” as a bi-weekly task, and “Cook New Recipe” as a weekly task.

I think the biggest shift around my resolutions mindset is that I view them as a “let’s see if and how this works” thing. There is no “failing” or “breaking” them, then, if it doesn’t work out. It’s more a “will this help me live with more contentment and less anxiety” trial-and-error process. I can always update/change/remove things from the list. Some things that I think might be daily or weekly tasks might be better suited as a “To-Do List” project instead.

So that’s where I’m at as we wrap up 2021 and head into 2022. I’m curious — where do you fall on this? Do you have hard & fast rules that you adhere to? Do you want everyone else to adhere to them too? Do you set resolutions or pick a word of the year, and if so, what are yours? Share your thoughts in the comments or tweet ’em to me at @ThatColette.