It seems to be in fashion to poo poo New Year’s resolutions. The last several years I have been privy to comments from acquaintances and noticed in my scrollings on social media that people get downright angry about their right to not make a New Year’s resolution. I would never force my beliefs on anyone, but I have felt in the minority because I still believe the New Year is a good time to try again.
What are we without hope? Well, hopeless, I guess. When the New Year rolls around and we are on the cusp of having another opportunity to make that change, why wouldn’t we sign up for the hope and the chance of that? If we stop trying to be a better version of ourselves, then I don’t even want to live in a world where people aren’t trying to be better.
I have had countless years where I made a resolution, or several resolutions and had given them up by the third week of January. This doesn’t seem like a failure to me. It seems very human to me. Most of us are trying to create new habits or break old habits that aren’t serving us any longer and many of us have varying degrees of success. But to give up completely feels kind of sad to me.
I remember when I was a kid and I got my pointe shoes. I had finally made it to the level of ballet where my dance teacher thought I was good enough and was working hard enough to try my hand (more accurately my foot) at pointe. I put those shoes on and danced around for the first class and thought I was the most prima ballerina. What I mostly was, was a clumsy teen, eager and hopeful and awestruck by the idea that I might be able to dance on my toes someday. I was terrible at first. My feet hurt not only while I had the shoes on, but the calluses and the bleeding hurt between my lessons too. I still loved it. It took me all of my first year to be able to do any of the moves I had been doing in my ballet shoes with any grace on pointe.
But you know what, I didn’t quit. I got a little better. Not enough better for the time I was putting in and the pain I was enduring. What kept me going was hope. Hope that I would get better and hope that it would hurt less eventually, like my teacher kept telling me it would. This story does not end with me in the lead of Swan Lake. I moved on to other things. We don’t get to be the prima in every one of our stories. Maybe if we’re lucky, we get to shine one time in our life. But that shouldn’t keep us from trying. Because if we’re not trying, guess what? We’re dying! Maybe there is a part of me that would like to tell this story with an ending that has roses being thrown at me at the end of a breath-taking performance. There is a bigger part of me that is so grateful that I get to tell the story at all. I’m glad I had the experience. Trying pointe was one of life’s best lessons in how hard it can be to do things we want so badly. How fun they can be to just do. And that giving up because something doesn’t go the way you want, isn’t really much of a story at all.
I have another story. Several years ago, I made a resolution to practice yoga for thirty days. I did it! I did yoga every day for 30 days. I liked it so much that I kept going. That year I did yoga every day for 8 months. You know what else I did? I then registered for a Yoga Teacher Training that I had been wanting to do for years. I completed that training and became a certified Yoga Teacher too! There were countless other benefits, especially being able to help my body heal from trauma.
If I hadn’t tried, I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t have healed. I wouldn’t have learned about yoga. I wouldn’t have made wonderful, loving friends. I wouldn’t have that experience in my life to bolster me in the tough times when I try, and I am less successful.
I will never suggest, nor believe that we should give up on hope. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of Anne Frank’s diary. So many of us have read that and have been moved by it for many different reasons. For me, I was struck, page after page by her hopefulness. Even in the face of indescribable loss and terror, that sweet girl continued to hope. She hoped not only to survive, but in a life of thriving. We are nothing without hope. We should never give that up. We leave ourselves very susceptible to depression without hope.
So, you won’t find me hash tagging “saynotoresolutions.” I am in the business of helping people find the nugget of hope in the darkest of hours. It is my job to scour the landscape of my clients’ souls to help them remember who they are when they have forgotten. I always ask my folks what resolution they’ve made because I know they must have a north star to follow. They must be able to navigate in the dark. And maybe this year that navigation looks like getting back on the treadmill once every week to keep their resolution to move their body this year.
Keep up the hope. I am not so silly not to recognize that it hurts sometimes to be disappointed in the face of failure or disaster. We can tolerate disappointment. We should build our muscle of tolerating disappointment because we are faced with it all the time. From the big moments to the small, disappointment is a guarantee. I want to try. I never want to stop trying just because it didn’t work once, twice, or even 20 times. That my friends, is the point to living!