Here we go again.
Instead of worrying about not achieving a bunch of goals by March, let’s use the New Year holiday to think about our experiences of the past year, and think about the experiences we want to have in the coming year.
I started this practice in 2018. For the first time, I didn’t take part in my usual ritual of making resolutions. For years, I tried to scale back my resolutions, making them less dramatic and more achievable. For instance, instead of trying to lose 20 pounds, I made resolutions not to gain any weight. Or I would resolve to try to stop procrastinating on deadlines. I even resolved to try to spend less at the grocery store.
That was me living life on the edge of a mundane existence. I was practicing the fine art of stagnation. It was as thrilling and fulfilling as it sounds.
In late December 2017, I decided I wanted to try things I had not tried before. My life had become a bit routine, and I kept wondering if there was some joy I was missing out on because I was too afraid, too busy, too whatever.
In my journal, I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do. I didn’t edit any of it. It was a stream of consciousness. I didn’t put a deadline on any of it either. My list had 86 items on it by the time I was done. I had no intention of accomplishing all of it in 2018. That wasn’t the point.
The reason for the list was to get all the possibilities in front of me to make them real. The second they were written on the page, there were some that jumped out as worthy of being considered. In January 2018, I started to work on bringing a few to fruition.
I did pilates for the first time and didn’t hate it. I worked on a political campaign in a major role and felt like I finally understood the importance of our democracy. I took a ceramics class and for the first time tried the pottery wheel. Painting with sponges became a new hobby too. I made terrible works of art and loved every minute of it. I met Barack Obama briefly, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I cut my hair short. I wrote an entire, unpublished book to see if I could do it. I published my work here in this space. I created my own office space and watched my profits grow in my first full year as a small business owner. I made new friends.
So you don’t get the wrong idea, I also had a bunch of spectacular failures too. My candidate lost the election. The stock market did a number on my retirement savings based on my bad decisions. I stood by and watched a wonderful colleague perish nearly instantly from sudden cancer. I should have listened instead of acted. I was a jerk and didn’t apologize. Taking chances didn’t stop me from being a deeply flawed human being. It did make me learn.
In spite of the missteps and regrets, I’m heading toward 2019 determined to try the new experience approach. Testing my limits has taught me more about the true value of this limited lifetime. How will I know what I love if I don’t try something new?
My new favorite thing might still be out there, and I might miss it if I don’t keep trying something new.
My list of new things to try has grown from 86 to 114. Although I checked a few items off the list, I found that I was open to the unknown because of my changed mindset. I had no idea I would work on a political campaign, but when the opportunity was presented to me, instead of declining, I embraced it. I had no idea what I was doing, but here I am at the end of 2018 with a ton of new, useful knowledge that I will apply again down the road.
What have you always longed to do? Make your list. Then see what you can manifest in 2019 by taking actions that lead you to a whole new world of possibilities. Join me. Let’s see what we can do.