Everyone likes to talk about Resolutions at New Years, what they’re going to do differently, what they’re going to change in their lives. It’s a great time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh with a new calendar year. What many people neglect to do at this time of year is to look back and realize how you got to the place you are now, what actions led up to you being here and now. Not only are we looking forward to 2010, a whole new decade, but we are also leaving 2009 and that whole decade behind. Knowing the past, the decisions you’ve made, the challenges you’ve faced, successfully overcome, and ran away from, ultimately helps to shape the best way you can face the future ahead and meet your resolutions to become closer to the person you want to be and have the life you want to lead – which is what we are all trying to do this time of year!
A number of years ago, my new years resolutions basically saved me from a really dark place in my life. It gave me the strength to address them by writing them down and setting them to paper rather than floating around my mind – one day I’ll get to it, one day I’ll change my job, one day I’ll stand up for myself and what I want, one day I’ll work on the problems in my relationship, one day I’ll love and be loved the way I want to be loved, one day I’ll have the strength to undo the ties that bind me to my situation and set myself free to the possibility of life, my dreams.
I sat down on January 1st and thought to myself that I couldn’t end that year the same way it was beginning. I needed to change my life or I was just going to keep spiraling. I bought a journal and on page one I made a resolutions list that included small lifestyle changes like going to bed earlier, making time to read novels, starting a journal (check!), and larger things like going to a weekly fitness/yoga class, devoting an evening by myself per week to recharge, reflect, and dream about the life I want. One step at a time, I began to check items off my list, starting slowly with the easy things. In time, these small changes built up my self-confidence and translated into big changes and before I knew it I had changed my situation entirely and ended off the year happier than I had ever been in my life. I keep that first journal around to remind me of the strength that lies within me to change my situation no matter what I’m faced with.
I’ve made some really quick and off-the-cuff decisions that have affected me, as well as those around me that I could regret. I’ve made some very complex, well-thought out (or agnonized for months and analysed to death about) life-altering decisions that could regret. And then there’s those that are still hanging around that could go either way; if they go one way I could regret them, if they go another I could be happy with my decision as hard as it may have been to make. The only thing I know at this point about regrets is that it’s not healthy to have them and I try my best to not regret anything. What I need to force myself to do sometimes is just accept my decision as one that I made to the best of my abilities at the time and be okay with the outcome. Oh, and choosing not making a decision, or putting it off, is worse than not making a decision at all. It’s cliche but I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not made the decisions I’ve made (and not made), and forgiven myself for those choices I made that negatively impacted my life and/or others that I could choose to regret.
It’s so funny, every time I think about regrets I think about the last line of “Human Nature” by Madonna where she confidently proclaims “Absolutely No Regrets”. For some reason, that always comes into my mind whenever I want to dwell on some decision I’ve made or play the “what-if” game. You have to be happy with yourself and take responsibility for where you are in your life or you’ll be paralysed. You brought yourself to this place, you can always take yourself out of it.
What does the future hold in store for me? Who knows? From looking back on this past decade, I know I’ve come a long way from the naive, fresh-faced 17 year old twink who graduated from high school ten years ago to the man I’ve grown into and become today. I’ve worked hard and slacked off, I’ve hurt and been hurt, I’ve travelled to the other side of the world and spent the day in bed, I’ve had mind-blowing sex and had horrible sex, I’ve lost good friends and gained good friends, I cried a lot, I laughed A LOT, I feared a lot, I loved a lot. Each one of these feelings and experiences has taught me about myself and have helped me clarify what it is I truly want out of life and how to achieve my own happiness.
This past year in particular has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me as I’ve reached incredible highs and some pretty low lows, however has been an incredible year for self-awareness; if I’m looking on the bright side ;). But from where I stand now, I can think of a few things that I’d like to choose to tackle this year:
Happy 2010 everyone. Here’s to a great year ahead full of love, luck, and happiness!