The Year Of The Non-Resolution

After almost 25 years on earth, and probably more than 25 failed New Year's (and mid-year's and by-my-birthday) resolutions, I've come to the conclusion that while I love a good resolution, resolutions, at least in the classic sense, do not love me. I've made small ones, big ones, in-between ones, ones that I call something other than a resolution but are really just a resolution after all. You name it, and I've probably tried it. And then failed miserably.

I've written at length about how much I value a chance to start over. No doubt that this probably contributes to my complicated (albeit passionate) relationship with resolutions. This year, though, I was either too busy or simply too fed up with failing at resolutions to plan out anything concrete as the new year approached. But, still, after a painful 2017, I dove into 2018 with a determination to begin again. I had no specific resolutions, but I did have a goal: create the life that made me happiest. For once, my plan for the New Year had nothing to do with how I looked or was perceived, and everything to with how I felt. And so, without even really realizing it, I began — starting with one tiny focus, one non-resolution at a time. 

For the first time, instead of looking at a long-term, often giant goal, I spent the first month of 2018 working at one thing in particular — but nothing that was based in a numerical goal or even a check-list. Without any planning, I found myself simply paying a little more attention to one small thing that I know feels good, but I often forget or push aside or make excuses for ignoring. By the end of the month, I felt like I could look back with pride at the fact that I had put something first that made me happy without attaching any sort of fail-or-pass goal to it. And so I thought: What if I did this for every month? No goals, no numerical statistics to beat or reach. Not even a plan, necessarily. Just me and 12 small areas of focus. Paying a tiny bit more attention to one thing every day, for a month. And then bringing what I learned to the next month. 

Much like the first month of the year, I'm not going to plan out what these area of focus are, but let them find me, if you will. I'll figure out along the way what feels right for me to pay attention to next. For the first month of the year, without planning or realizing it, I focused my time on learning new recipes and eating intuitively, honing in on the foods and flavors that make me feel the most energized, satisfied, and balanced. I did do a Whole30, which I'll talk about in my first month recap (stay tuned), but I also didn't follow the program's rules as much as I followed my own. At the end of the month I realized what I had actually done wasn't a Whole30, but something else entirely. So, yes, I guess I technically failed at Whole30 — but, for once, that was OK with me. I wasn't failing at all, I realized, I was simply focusing on what made me feel the best, and doing more of that. I felt excited.

I'll be recapping each mini non-resolution here on the blog, mostly as a way to outline to myself the things that make me feel good. Truthfully, though, I know that a lot of this year will be about unlearning the things that I've always told myself. Still, the idea that I even can feel my best without while ignoring pass-failed resolutions of the past feels a bit foreign to me – like by dismissing all my failed resolutions of the past I'm fully giving up on them. But I'm learning to rewire that part of my brain, too. Maybe I'll  spend a month on that rewiring, too. Or maybe not. My plan is that I have no plan other than to take tiny chunks of things that make me feel my best and work on cultivating that feeling in a way that feels healthy, organic, consistent, and entirely unique to me. In a way that concept seems bigger than any resolution I've had in the past, but at the same time it seems kind of like it's common sense — like, at the end of the day, that's the only choice there is. 

Olivia Muenter