New Year's resolutions: to ask or not to ask?
by Chantal Bufe
New Year's resolutions: I've always had a love/hate relationship with them, or rather, liked/ not liked being asked about them. On the one hand, I know that most people who ask simply want to open the door to a fun and possibly meaningful conversation. A kind gesture that I wholeheartedly appreciate. But on the other hand, asking about my New Years' resolutions is as uncomfortable to me as a question about my underwear. Really. And so I have learned to evade this question like a pro: 'canned' answers, 'bridge' responses' – you name it. Over the years, I have become an artful 'dodger.'
After much introspection, I think I struggle with this question because I never seem to be able to deliver an answer that is satisfying (enough) for my conversation partner. I quickly dive in way too deep, immediately worrying that I have overexposed, leaving the inquisitors uncomfortable and wishing they had never asked in the first place. It's awkward.
Over the years, I have found that most people seem to desire a crisp statement that clearly defines my level of proactivity and commitment to a resolution rather than a soul-bearing conversation. Stop smoking! Stop drinking! Work (out) more! Work less! Go skydiving! It seems a New Years' resolution is supposed to be just that: resolute. Full of determination, firmness, and purpose. You're not supposed to stray from this definition and, please, remember to keep it fun… and short.
While the answers I want to give have everything to do with purpose, to me, it's not that simple. People tend to forget the one crucial thing: We are human, and living a life for 365 days is complicated. Much less planning and committing to that life one whole year in advance! Even if our resolution pertains to just one part of our life. It's all interconnected, don't they see?
For me to know precisely (and verbalize coherently) a purposeful resolution (one that I have agency over and fully embrace) requires one thing above all: courage. Before I can answer anything about my future, I need to bravely take a (long and hard and honest) look at the past year and ask the only two questions that will ever matter - in life and on New Years Eve:
"Did I live a life that truly nourished my soul (last year)?"
"Which parts of my soul still feel unnourished?"
As the year ends, this is where I begin. Gently, I peel back the layers of past experiences and examine all parts of my life and myself over the past year. What worked out, what didn't? Why? Where am I standing at the end of these 365 days? In the sunshine? The shadows? And where do I want to be standing at the end of next year?
By asking myself these questions, it's easier for me to identify my hopes and dreams and think of ways to translate them into the desire and fire to fuel my actions for the new year. I believe that this is how a purposeful resolution is born. How it can live, survive, thrive. For an entire year and beyond.
Replaying the past year - evaluating what to let go of and what to carry into the new year - is both the bravest and most vulnerable thing to do. Always personal. Always painful. Always sacred.
And so, maybe, as we muster up the courage and face our truth at the end of each year, it would be wise to remember that not all people have earned the right to hear your story, your truest answer. Hearing it is a privilege that should be reserved for those who deserve it (Brene Brown).
So, instead of feeling unsure or uncomfortable, like me, I am giving you my blessing to evade and avoid this question - interrupt or laugh - whatever it is you need to do. Because, at the end - of a year or a lifetime - the only person you owe your most authentic answers to is you.
May 2022 be your year.
PS: I am also having a love/hate relationship with social media and currently pouring my writing into yet another heart's desire/project. But for all those who have kindly asked: I am still here!