And just like that, it’s New Year’s Eve. (How did that happen so fast?!) Another year has come and gone, so now I’m supposed to take some time to look back at everything that’s happened over the past 365 days and start making plans for my next year of life, right?Well, fuck that.
Pretty much every year, I (along with millions of other people) sit around and try to come up with a list of “resolutions” that I’m supposed to try to stick to for an entire year. In my particular case, I write them down—usually on this blog—only to a) never actually publish the post, and b) delete it completely sometime around August.
But enough is enough. Why do we continuously make these impossible lists for ourselves? Do we honestly think that scrutinizing a year’s worth of “mistakes” while throwing back a bottle of champagne and vowing to lose 10 pounds or spend less money or call that relative more often or put more miles under our feet in the coming year will really make us a “better” person? Because here’s a little secret: it won’t.
We are not the number on the scale.
We are not the dollars in our bank account.
We are not the minutes or hours we spend communicating with our loved ones.
We are not the amount of miles we spend pounding pavement (or trail).
We are not “broken” or “wrong” and we don’t need “fixing.”
We are perfect…and we’re getting better. (A huge thank you to Brandy, my yoga school teacher, for planting this seed in my brain a month or so ago. It’s been steadily growing ever since, and I love it with every fiber of my being.)
It would be far too easy for me to look back at my year and conclude that I didn’t run enough, or climb enough, or ride my bike enough. And maybe I didn’t. But I truly believe I did every one of those things exactly as much as I was “supposed to”…and if I had the chance to go back and change any of it, I wouldn’t.
In all of the time I didn’t spend doing those things—the things I used to use to define myself—I found other things that I love just as much, if not more. I discovered a boot camp class at the Y that I am absolutely in love with. I spent a lot more time hiking (an activity I spent years kinda-sorta hating) and eventually made my way to the top of a 14,000-footer (almost twice!). I finally enrolled in a yoga teacher training program, which is something I’ve dreamed about for, no lie, the past decade. (Can you imagine wanting to do something for TEN YEARS and never actually taking any steps toward it? Pretty please, for my sake and yours, DON’T DO THAT!)
If you know me in real life, you know how much I love numbers and quantifying things. So of course I have a year’s worth of numerical data, and could tell you in a matter of seconds how many hours or miles I dedicated to any particular activity in 2015. (Like, 94 hours of hiking/mountaineering or 260 miles of running. Seriously, I could give you numbers down to the second or tenth of a mile if you wanted them. It’s probably not healthy.) But in the brief period of time I’ve spent thinking back on my amount of activity—which, again, is something I’ve used to define myself in the past—over the last year, the only thought I keep coming back to is “none of this even matters.”
Do you want to know what really mattered?
- I got off the couch and ran or climbed or went snowboarding or biked or hiked or went to a yoga class or—at the very least—went for a walk around the neighborhood…and enjoyed every moment of it.
- I started to give a shit about my dreams and took steps toward making them come true.
- I had an immeasurable amount of fun, whether it was painting pottery with my mom, flying in a helicopter over Niagara Falls with my dad, grabbing a beer or froyo with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, playing Pictionary instead of unwrapping presents on Christmas, or any other shenanigans that came up throughout the year.
- I got ENGAGED to someone I love more than I even thought was possible.
- I learned that friendships—however strong they are or how long they last—can be fleeting and that you need to appreciate the shit out of them while you have them.
- I saved way more money than I thought I could to use for a wedding or a house.
- I’M SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT HOUSES AND CONSIDERING BUYING ONE. (Apparently, I’m more or less a “real” adult now.)
- I realized how truly lucky and unironically #blessed I am, and learned how to appreciate everything I have.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that my life is pretty fucking awesome, and if you think about it long enough, you’ll realize that yours probably is too. I mean, sure…losing 10 or 15 pounds in 2016 wouldn’t be terrible, and I could probably cut back on some unnecessary expenditures and be a better daughter/fiancée/cat mom, but that sort of stuff is probably true for, like, 80-90% of the world’s population. (And, yes, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to run more or climb harder or bike faster. Also, if I decided I didn’t care about those things anymore, I’d have to change the name of this site, and I’m TERRIBLE at naming things.)
But when I think about what I really want to accomplish in 2016, it has nothing to do with weight or dollars, or even hours or miles.
When all is said and done, all I really care about is being happy and healthy, having adventures, giving love and being loved, turning my dreams into realities, making sure the time I do spend with family (or friends, for that matter) is of the highest quality, and truly enjoying every moment I get to be outside.
So instead of making a list of resolutions I know I won’t stick to in the new year, I’m going to make one simple “rule” for myself: If it doesn’t make you happy, stop doing it.
I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that if more people focused on this, the world could be a much better place. Care to join me?