Whether it’s because I was born female, born with an Aries rising sign, born in the Year of the Pig, born to two reasonably successful parents, or just born this way — whatever it is — I’ve always had a lot of energy and I’ve always needed something to do.
Which means I love the start of a new year.
I’m not big on making resolutions, but I do love the symbolism of a fresh slate. It’s 2020, now. All the kooky decisions I made last year are old news!
So, I start each new year hot out of the gate by conducting a bit of a life audit.
This involves looking at what I’ve been doing in various areas — health, finances, purpose — and then considering whether I could be more mindful about the choices I make in these areas. Perhaps moreso, considering whether I’m okay with how everything's tracking.
I usually end up down a rabbit hole of Google searches, which begins with phrases such as “the best way to keep tabs on spending” and ends with “how to make kale chips.”
The problem is for every answer you find, more questions are raised, and this is why I’m not big on making resolutions. I feel as though I’m set up to fail.
Why all the fuss over the fresh slate, then?
A few years back, a psychologist told me the only absolute rule in life is, well, there are no rules. You should live your life according to guidelines, not rules, he said.
Because let’s say you vow to do yoga every single morning. And then you go away for a week and get into the habit of sleeping in instead of slipping into warrior pose. When you return from holiday, your rule all broken into pieces, you’ll probably struggle with the idea you’ve failed.
Or maybe you’ve got a rule that you have to finish every book you start, whether you like it or not. You’re selling it short, you tell yourself. But what a waste of your own precious, hard-earned time! If you really don’t like the book, trust yourself and move on.
So, every new year, instead of resolutions or rules, I try goals and guidelines.
After years of being unable to exercise due to health problems, I’d like to slowly work on getting fitter this year. But I know that if I resolved to go to a boxing class twice every week, I’d probably just end up paying for a gym membership I didn’t use and giving up.
So, my guideline around health for this year is to try and be active, generally. Testing out some pilates classes, meeting my Fitbit step goal each week, stretching on the weekends, and maybe climb a mountain or something. The goal is to just do more this year than I did last year.
Likewise, my financial goal this year is to save more than I did last year.
I’m trying to allocate 30% of my post-tax salary to savings, instead of the 25% I allocated in 2019. I’m also going to pay off a small amount of debt, which means I’ll have even more to set aside for savings. And I could also stand to cut down on my Uber Eats spending.
But if I don’t quite hit my goal, I’m not going to punish myself for my transgressions.
I get that setting guidelines and not rules can seem like an easy cop out, but it’s more about avoiding an all-or-nothing approach. It’s about being flexible.
When it comes to living the life you want to live, there’s no right or wrong!