Looking Inward 2k15

It’s almost New Year’s Eve.

In two days, it will be a different year, a new year, and if you are like me, you are probably considering some New Year’s Resolutions.  That’s perfectly fine-~-the new year provides an impetus for self-reflection and goal-setting, both of which are perfectly good things.  That said, ask yourself this: why are you choosing these resolutions as your new goals?

According to the government, which for some reason tracks these things, certain resolutions are among the most common each year, with the list being perpetually topped by the goal of losing weight.  Other popular New Year’s resolutions include quitting smoking, volunteering more, and eating healthier, and getting in shape.  And while I will say that size discrimination in the United States is rampant and the social pressure to lose weight needs to be reduced, I won’t say that, on face, a goal to lose weight is bad; I don’t believe that any of those resolutions is inherently bad.  But like I said, why are we choosing these resolutions?  Is it because we think they will make us healthier?  Is it because we are tired of how certain people look at us?

Do we set these goals because they are really what we want or need, or because we think they are what is expected of us?

What if we chose resolutions that looked like this:

1. Prioritize your health.

This means your physical health, your social well-being, and your mental health.  It means developing better self-care routines, and spending more time doing the things we enjoy, instead of just what we think we are supposed to enjoy.  Personally?  I am not a fan of clubbing, but I love a good movie marathon with my friends.  I do not like jogging, but I think hiking can be fun.  Choose paths to healthier living that actually make sense for you, and that make you happy.  You do not have to eat a salad every single day, you do not have to jog if you hate jogging, you do not have to give up every kind of treat you enjoy if you can manage it in moderation.

Prioritizing your health should also mean cutting negativity out of your life.  I don’t mean you can never vent to a friend about a bad day at work or a fight with your brother; I mean you should be assessing whether the people around you build you up or tear you down.  Too often, we stay friends with people who make us feel bad about ourselves because we refuse to acknowledge that that’s what they’re really doing, or we stay in relationships with partners who don’t meaningfully support us, or even tear us down.  Surround yourself with people who care about you and make you feel good, about you.

2. Love yourself more.

This is a hard one-~-but it starts with taking better care of yourself, and it starts with acknowledging what you have going for you.  We are taught to be self-critical to the point of self-sabotage.  We’re taught that confidence is cockiness or self-absorption (and women, especially, are taught that if they feel good about themselves, they’re shallow or silly).  You know what?  It’s okay to tell yourself that you look good.  It is okay to tell yourself that you are smart.  It is okay to tell yourself you are good at something.  It is okay to tell yourself that you matter, because you do.  And if you don’t believe those things, you may never be able to convince others to believe them, or to treat you the way you deserve.

It’s okay to like yourself, and that’s what I’m committing to this year.

3. Stop letting fear control your life (or at least, give it a little less control).

In the words of Mark Manson, “Before you are able to be good at something and do something important, you must first suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing. That’s pretty obvious. And in order to suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing, you must embarrass yourself in some shape or form, often repeatedly.”

We generally speaking avoid embarrassment and failure like they are the plague.  We let fear control our lives and keep us from going after things we really want.  We stay in unhappy relationships because we are scared of being single.  We don’t apply for our dream jobs or submit our writing to contests because we are afraid of rejection.  We don’t try new things because we are afraid we will fail.  And frankly, we are all missing out because we’re too afraid to live the lives we really want to be living.

If your friends will really mock you ceaselessly for writing poetry, get better friends.  If you want to change careers, look for ways to do that.  Stop letting fear keep you trapped in a cycle of unhappiness-~-again, one of my own New Year’s resolutions.

4. Demand better for yourself.

If you only take away one theme from the last three resolutions, I hope it is this: we ultimately end up with the things we accept.  If you accept people treating you badly, then people will treat you badly.  If you accept a career that makes you miserable, you will have a miserable career.  In the words of Grey’s Anatomy‘s Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), “If you want bad crap to stop happening to you, stop accepting crap and demand something better.”  Ask for a raise if you think you deserve one, stand up for yourself if people aren’t treating you right.  Stop being afraid and demand what you deserve.

Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang

5.  Think about what you really want.

I suppose that this is the point of my post: it’s time for each of us to start thinking about what we really want, and what we really need, as opposed to what other people we tell us we want and need.  Lots of people may tell you that you need to lose weight, but the real question is, are you happy with how you look?  Don’t listen to your one aunt who always criticizes how you dress-~-what matters is if you like your wardrobe.  Watch more movies, read more books, get a gym membership, make more doctors appointments, quit smoking, start writing, change jobs, travel more…these are all good goals, if they are what you actually want.

So think about it.  Think about the ways your preferences have been conditioned by society, and whether they are things you truly enjoy.  Challenge yourself to branch out until you find things you actually like, and then commit time to them.  Decide, for yourself, what you want and need, and go for it.

Happy New Year.

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~ by Randi Saunders on December 30, 2014.

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