We start by nitpicking one bit of self-loathing: maybe it’s a bad hair day but usually it’s our thighs. And then we multiply it to a wide rant about fat bellies, lazy exercise, old muscles, clothes that don’t fit, sore feet, and ugly hands. Then, not to be accused of lacking vision, we add on hating our lousy job, never having enough money, and being under appreciated in our relationships. Did we leave anything out?
Next we make a strict plan that starting January first we will change everything.
Don’t even try. Focusing on what’s wrong never works. The reason New Year resolutions fail is that we cut our throats right before we start. Short of being incarcerated in a prison cell, totally changing an entire life in a day is pretty unreasonable. Sure, who wouldn’t want to be young, thin, smart, and rich in the time it takes to eat a bag of chips, but we inevitably fail. Life gets demoted to the chronic dieter’s dilemma: Losing weight fast, and then gaining it right back with an extra five pounds.
That’s when our evil twin, the part of us that’s the mean girl in school, puts her hand on her hip, flips her hair, and shakes her index finger to inform us we’re still the same loser we used to be, and a year older. In other words, we get cynical.
But I’m still a sucker for New Years. I love the idea of getting a fresh start; a do-over with a breath of optimism. The secret is to plan to under-achieve. Like three years ago when I decided I could write a book–just one page at a time.
I think there’s a reason that the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare has endured so long with its message of patience and kindness.
And so my wish for each of you in the New Year is tiny turtle-like change, small enough to accomplish with ease and self-love. Let gratitude be the cherry on top. What if real personal success comes from lowering our expectations enough that every breath is a joy? That every breeze is a spark of inspiration, until every step becomes an affirmation of the next step, until we pause from praising the path, and notice we’re at the destination. Less suffering, more gratitude.
THIS WEEK: It’s been my habit here to include an update, but in light of this holiday that I love… I’ll just say it’s crazy: I’m working on three books, writing two blogs, a smattering of articles, and doing book promotion, along with my usual occupation–boarding and training horses. And my dogs still like me. If you had told me this was even possible three years ago as I stared at page one of Stable Relation, I’d still be slumped in a paralyzed flop sweat, squinting at a blank page.
Happy New Year! Look in the mirror and thank your best friend. Then find an itty-bitty, tiny corner of a dream and sink your teeth into it like a ten-pound terrier.