Don’t Be Overwhelmed by New Years Resolutions

don't be overwhelmed by new years resolutions, elaina avalos

It’s about that time. We’re barreling toward the start of a whole new year. From late autumn through Christmas every year, I spend time evaluating how my year has gone and think ahead to the upcoming year. While I have multiple long-term, life goals (and smaller goals I hope to meet and often do), I do not give myself a long list of resolutions each year.

I do, however, chose a word for my year. I’ve done this for so many years now I’ve lost track. My word for 2022 found me (as they usually do). The word was acceptance (or radical acceptance). I was so uncertain about the word, that I almost changed it, for the first time ever. But it was the right word.

“Radical Acceptance is the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.”

~ Tara Branch

While I don’t want to go into a long story about how this word did/did not apply to 2022, I can tell you with confidence that as the “one word” concept has done every year, acceptance became the lesson of this year that has ultimately helped me tremendously. While it seems kind of nutty to make statements like this, it was life-changing. How was a word life-changing? If I told you all of that, you wouldn’t read. It’s a long story. 🙂

If you feel stressed about a new year, that’s just hours away, or find yourself stressed within the first few weeks of a new year, don’t be overwhelmed by New Years Resolutions. I tackle my year by choosing a word that becomes a theme (of sorts). I set intentions around that word. I know what you’re thinking . . . aren’t intentions, goals or resolutions?

Yes and no. Intentions look a little different to me than resolutions/goals. They’re also self-focused and don’t require participation from anyone else. Do you ever make resolutions or goals that involve other people? These could include changing careers, improving relationships, etc.? The problem with those goals and resolutions, are that they require other people to get in line with your goals/resolutions. That just doesn’t work because you can’t control other people.

If your goal is to “work out every day” or hit 10,000 steps a day, do those goals account for your own needs or potential changes in your schedule, health, your family’s schedule, your career, etc.? Would it be easier to hit a 10,000 step goal if it was actually a weekly aim? If your plan of attack is 50,000 steps in a week – you’re not beholden to accomplishing that every day. You have 7 days to make it happen. That might be a lot easier to make happen than 10,000 a day.

If your intention is to be the best girlfriend, wife, employee you can be – it’s entirely dependent on you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does/doesn’t do. It doesn’t matter what your boss does, if you’re appreciated, or what your opportunities for advancement are.

Well . . . it does matter. Those things do matter. But us becoming who and what we need to be, is dependent upon our choices. Choosing a word for the year helps me be – in admittedly sometimes small increments, to be the person I want to be. And it’s entirely dependent upon me and not circumstances.

If I have a long list of resolutions and goals, there are 100% guaranteed obstacles to accomplishing those. I know I’m not alone in that. So why do that to yourself?

Here’s what I do or think through, as the year comes to a close, and a new year begins:

1. Evaluate the course of my previous year and determine what I loved, didn’t love, and what I wished I’d done differently.

Example: If my word is “acceptance” how well did I accept circumstances as they came? Was I content regardless of circumstances? What were my biggest “negative” emotions around my various intentions or the word itself?

2. Determine what new intentions I have for myself or what I didn’t get to the year before. Were the negative or neutral emotions or experiences, reoccurring themes? Were my failings or near-misses reoccurring themes?

3. I spend some time connecting those reoccurring themes and those things I hope to make a reality in my life and usually end up with a word that covers it all. Because of my faith, prayer is woven throughout.

Example: A pretty constant theme throughout my 2022, was anxiety and fear. Fear was prevalent. It literally kept me from accomplishing some things that I’d hoped to. It kept me from career dreams that may have been a reality – had I been less fearful.

4. Once the word is clear, I use my phone’s notes app, journal, etc., to make a list of things I’d like to do in the new year. Most of the time, these are big picture desires.

Example: Improving my health is a big picture goal. It’s not 10,000 steps a day or yoga every day. But it may be slowly making better choices that lead to major changes over the course of the year. For instance, I wanted to do Yoga with Adrienne’s daily yoga practice in January. But my joints aren’t sure of that at the moment. What is possible? Regular walks with the dog and yoga a few days a week and when I can’t sleep. I do have plenty of specifics listed, too. For instance, if I want to be more organized, I create an additional list of specific things I need to organize.

Fearless: free from fear : BRAVE

My word for 2023? It’s Fearless. It’s not the first time I’ve had that word. But it’s never fit better. So what does that look like for intentions? I’m certainly not sharing here. Haha! But I can tell you that it’s a word that is an extension of acceptance.

Listen, I know. This isn’t the advice most people are going to give you. I’m not most people. I sympathize with those who may be working their way through health issues, loss and grief, or any other number of challenges. Why beat yourself up on the path to becoming a better version of yourself, when you don’t tick off every little thing on that list of yours?

Being driven is not a bad thing. Neither is determination to meet your goals. But if you’re like me and need a little more grace, the word thing works so much better.

What is your biggest obstacle to meeting your goals? Do you find yourself overwhelmed a few weeks or a couple months into a new year as life hits your best intentions? If so, you might like giving the one word thing, a shot.

Here’s to a 2023 full of good things!

Rambling When You’re Exhausted

I wrote last night’s post as the Benadryl I’d taken had set in. I really should’ve been in bed. Instead, I rambled on without even explaining why I posted about Desmond & Penny in the first place.

I belong to a few LOST-themed Facebook groups (yes, I am that much of a nerd about the show). All day, people in the group posted about Desmond and Penny – because it was Christmas Eve. The Constant is one of the most popular episode of the show’s six seasons. Its significance to the storyline can’t be overstated. So naturally it came up as people, some of whom in the midst of re-watches of the show, remembered what a big deal December 24, 2004 was.

That’s why I wrote my random ramblings last night. I hope someday I write something that random people across the world will remember at odd moments or on specific days & nights when a snippet of dialogue or the story pops into their mind. Though I’ve yet to experience that kind of love, there’s always the hope I’ll find that too (along with publishing oodles of novels before I die).

Tomorrow, I hope to read a novel I’ve ready every year for decades. It’s a Christmas week tradition. It’s called “The Following of the Star.” It’s a very old novel about a wealthy single woman and the missionary that comes to preach at her countryside church. While it takes place over time, it is centered around Christmas. The book is divided in three sections – gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. It’s quite old fashioned and a little sexist. But, it’s still a favorite. The copy I used to read – my Mom’s has been worn a little. So I know have it on my Kindle (it’s free by the way). Which brings us back to what I was saying about LOST and our favorite books and movies. This tradition has stuck with me because the words of the book are so beautiful to me – just as the scene from The Constant has for so many years. What a gift story is.

I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas or Hanukkah.

December 24, 2004

“I won’t call for eight years. December 24, 2004. Christmas Eve. I promise. Please, Pen.”

In my favorite show, LOST – the character Penny (in the above scene) is considered, by the character Desmond, to be his constant – the person that keeps him anchored to reality, as he travels through time. In this season 4 episode, Penny finally receives the long-ago promised call from Desmond. The night Desmond shows up at her home, eight years prior (above), she is angry and wants only for him to leave. She eventually regrets this – eventually stopping at nothing – to find out what’s happened to him.

It’s not really a Christmas episode. But somehow it is, just the same. What a gift this moment (below) becomes. By this point in the show, you’re longing to see some kind of victory for the “LOSTies.” This call is just that, for a number of reasons. It’s also a beautiful part of the love story for Desmond & Penny. You sort of just know their story will come together after this point. I first saw this episode so long ago now. It is and always will be a favorite.

As a writer, I’m drawn to big moments like the second video. The reunification, the declaration, the romance of two people finding each other through time and space. Toward the end of the first video, you see Desmond walk away from Penny’s home, with a smile on his face. He’s smiling, even though she’s just pushed him out the door, because he knows – because he’s been there already, that she will answer that call on December 24, 2004. And though it looks bleak, as she expresses her anger, he walks away knowing what will eventually happen. He walks off content with the knowledge that this moment is not the end for them. As the scene plays out, with both expressing their love and commitment, I’m reminded of how unlike real life is from the very things I write or those things I am drawn to in literature, movies, TV shows, etc.

Unlikely, improbable, and a fool’s errand, could describe the likelihood of a love story coming together like what the writer of a romcom, movie, or film project, writes. And yet, it’s still moments like these with a little more reality sprinkled in, that I’ll just keep hoping for – improbable though they are.

Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.

~ John Heywood