On January 1st, 2015, I didn’t make a resolution. Thirty years of living taught me that the resolutions I made were too absolute. I told myself that I would be damned if I let another year go by without doing X,Y, or Z. Like many of you, I broke whatever promise I made by February. For me, February was the month of dead resolutions.
Last year was the end of that stress.
What changed? I was already stressed out by life. I was on my last semester of graduate school and was slowly losing my mind. There wasn’t enough room on my plate for lofty ambitions when I was too busy surviving. Normally, I would tell myself, “This is the year I will. . .”
- Stop smoking
- Lose weight
- Get more organized
- Save more money
Well guess what? Life happened. Luckily, I had to stop smoking the previous year because I got very sick. Otherwise, I’d still be making the same promise to myself. I got so ill from smoking that I had no other choice but to quit. When the doctor told me that my lungs looked decades older for someone my age, I just got scared. Life happened.
Things like losing weight, getting more organized, and saving money were solely dependent on what life had planned for me, not the other way around. This sounds nihilistic, I know. I’m making this sound like I’ve given away my free will to a depressing universe. That’s not entirely true. The point is: I didn’t make important decisions about my life on January 1st. I let go of a timeline and I made my decisions over the course of 365 days.
- I graduated with a Master’s degree
- I decided to start writing a novel
- I got two tattoos in an effort to try something new and exciting
- I was able to talk to an awesome author, Faith Adiele
- I got to talk about black feminist issues on a radio show
- I began my teaching career
- I consistently made YouTube videos for The Motley News
These are all things that I could have announced at the start of the year. Instead, they ended up being pleasant surprises along the way. Again, you have 365 days to make things happen. It doesn’t matter when you get started and it doesn’t matter if your promise dies in February. There’s always March. . .
We tend to make these resolutions so we can look back over the last year and feel proud about accomplishing something. Chances are, there were plenty of things you accomplished in 2015 that had nothing to do with your resolution. The capital “T” Truth is: There are some plans that you simple cannot make. Have you ever heard the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan?” Shit happens. We have to remain flexible; we have to stay on our toes. While you’re trying to save money, you don’t know when an emergency purchase will pop up. While you’re trying to organize your life with a million containers, you don’t know when an event will rock your perfectly maintained world. You have to do your best, sure, but nothing is set in stone.
This might not work for you. You still might be convinced that you have control and willpower. You do. To an extent. Just know that happy accidents happen along the way and you might have to make important decision based on those. That is where real resolutions are.