In the Scheme of Things: Make It a New Year

New Year new you articles, ads, and promotions are ubiquitous, pushing everything from gym memberships and healthy meal-kit delivery, to accountability coaches and meditation apps. They attempt to nudge us to climb aboard the reset, start new, or try-again bandwagons. There’s money to make when 92-percent of us don’t achieve our resolutions each year.

But, this time I’m not climbing aboard. I’m not interested in short bursts that fade, only to be resurrected again next year from guilt, despair, or should-dos, rather than genuine self-awareness and conscious choice.

Granted, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions anyway. I believe incremental progress over time is a better approach to sustainable results. Even so, I’ve made dozens of resolutions through the years, sprinkled with good intentions and magical thinking, hoping this time it’ll be different — that I’ll lose the weight, conquer bad habits, or achieve that dreamed about goal. Some years I’ve made it into the 8-percent who achieved their resolutions group, but most years I haven’t.

I don’t want a mulligan on last year’s missed accomplishments, a do-over to try to hit missed goals, or a renewed desire to cross something of a life-to-do-list. After all, doing the same thing yields, more likely than not, the same results. I want real change and that requires more than once-a-year resolutions, sporadic goal setting, or even incremental progress over time approaches. The reality is New Year’s resolutions aren’t the solution to sustained, mindful change; time investment is.

Since January is not only the start of a New Year, but the month of my birthday, it’s a reality touchstone for me on the topic of time. What I’ve learned in six decades is this: there will never be enough time to do everything I want to do, am curious to do, or would like to do. Life requires choices and trade-offs. For me that starts with letting go of what no longer makes sense, embracing what does, and shifting my time accordingly.

I’m fortunate to be entering 2018 with new insights. A few bumpy years left me with an unexpected gift of greater self-awareness and a clearer understanding about what I want more or less of, going forward. I know this about myself — I need more than resolutions. I need real, deep, significant, and meaningful change. That need is emerging from a deeper understanding that time is life’s nonrenewable currency. And how I spend mine matters.

What I want, in the scheme of things, is not to have a new year, but to make a new year — one that’s just right for me, centered with time investments that align with who and what I value. Or as author Annie Dillard puts it, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” This year, I’m changing how I spend my days.