We all do it. The promise of a new year—a fresh start—is so alluring that the temptation to conjure a resolution or two is powerful on January 1. Lose 15 pounds. Be a better daughter and a more patient mother. Read more books. Volunteer. Make your bed every day (or is that just me?). But by February 1, the push and and pull of our daily lives have a way of drowning out our best intentions.
But last year, I accidentally stumbled on a formula that worked, so I’m going to try it again in 2016. I discovered that if I’m less prescriptive in my resolution, the likelihood of actually implementing it into my life is much greater.
Mid-January of last year, I was having dinner with a (very goal-oriented) friend, and she asked me what I was going to do in 2015. What was my plan? What did I want to do to up my game?
One abstract thought immediately came to my mind—I wanted to say yes to more things. With two young kids and a demanding career, I found that I was saying no to things that took me out of my comfort zone far too often. Time was a premium, so finding time to do the extras took a backseat to all the compulsory requirements of being a mother, a wife, and an employee.
But in my former life, I had been a spontaneous person; traveling with friends, taking on new adventures, meeting new people, but somehow that had slowed to a crawl. My kids are 8 and 4, so I wanted to jump back into life with more determination. Sharing it with my friend—saying it out loud—helped solidify it, ink it in.
So the first chance I got, I jumped, accepting a friend’s invitation to visit her in Ireland. She is a friend I met in college, and although we’ve always lived in different cities, she’s one of those friends where the conversation can pick right up many months after the last one ended. She emailed me a vague, casual offer to check out her new digs across the pond, and I found myself using my frequent flier miles to book a flight for a few weeks later.
We walked the Cliffs of Moher, drank plenty of Guinness, and popped into quaint little pubs in the spectacular seaside city of Galway. But the trip was more meaningful for the trajectory of our friendship, which is now, happily, something I think will always be able to call on when I need advice, a pick-me-up, or a pint.
That was the first yes, but there were dozens of others—yes to meeting up with new friends, yes to taking chances in my career, yes to training for and competing in my first triathlon, yes to going to my 20-year high school reunion, yes to writing fiction for the first time, and yes to going on a poorly timed (but completely worth the trouble) romantic getaway with my husband.
But in all honesty, it didn’t all turn out great. While I made some new wonderful new friends and fortified some older ones, I also got hurt along the way. After all, it’s hard sometimes to open yourself up to the good without also exposing yourself to some pain.
Still, the good far outweighed the bad, and I’ll remember 2015 as the year I felt most present in my life and as the year I gave as good (or better) than I got.
So will I make a resolution for 2016? I’d say yes.