The dawn of a new year -and a new decade at that- is a customary time to reflect on what has come to pass and plan for what’s yet to. To think of goals and make resolutions.
For the first time in a long time, I won’t be doing that.
If you know me, you know that I traditionally thrive on plans. On setting goals and working toward them. On reflection and learning and dreaming and achieving. For thirty years of my life it has been my way, and for thirty years it has served me well.
And the past ten years are proof of that: I set many goals for myself over the years, fell short once or twice, shifted a few as I grew, and met a fair share of them, too. I made mistakes both personal and professional, but I was also sure to learn as I rose from those ashes. I ended bad relationships, began better ones, embraced cherished ones, and discovered what it means to be a good friend, daughter, colleague, and lover all while making sure I stay true to myself. I earned degrees, cobbled together a living, and built a career. I purchased cars and mortgaged houses and set up homes. I adopted animals. I ran marathons. I traveled. I lived. I flourished.
As far as a goal-getter is concerned, I’ve had an outstanding decade.
But, while I don’t believe that this era of my life, my thirties, are an end to goals and dreams and achievement, I do think I have hit a personal plateau. Lately I’ve found that setting goals no longer sparks my spirit into forward motion, and achieving goals rarely gratifies my ambitions the way it used to.
So I have decided that my vision for the new year, the new decade, won’t be achievement. Because, in reflecting, I see that I have done much of what I thought I should by now. And I have accomplished more than my wildest dreams were for myself ten years ago. And while I am tired, I am also content. So, as I look to the next decade, instead of reaching up for my next success, I hope to simply go forward toward joy.
This will sometimes mean saying no more than I say yes, even to people and events and ideas that I love. But this will also mean dedicating myself to causes outside of my daily work; projects that fulfill my giving spirit and quench my desire to be the change I want to see in the world. This will mean giving myself space to revisit beloved pastimes and to play and learn new ones, all with naught in mind but enjoyment. No end goal of output. No timeline to perfection.
Maybe something great will come from it. and maybe nothing will but what satisfaction I glean for myself.
Some may see it as selfish. I see it as self-considerate.
I invite you, no matter how many or few other goals and resolutions you have, to join me in considering yourself and what will truly bring you contentment as we take one more step into our shared future.
And hopefully, in being considerate of ourselves in addition to caring for others, we might all see a brighter, healthier, happier, more peaceful world in the next year, the next decade, and create a new age of benevolence that’s worth remembering.