648 words about my one-word resolution
I’ve always been a fan of one-word resolutions. I spend a good long time thinking through that single meaningful word that will perfectly define my goals and intentions for the year.
Do. Forward. Breathe. Self.
By the end of the year, I’m able to look back and see all the magnificent ways I was able to shape myself into an entirely different person, thanks to one tiny word, and it fills me with a sense of joy, peace and remarkable accomplishment.
Did I have you there?
We’re you starting to wonder, hey! who hacked Liz’s Substack and replaced her with a shady positivity life coach?
Here’s the reality:
By mid-January, I’ve stopped making my bed in the morning and started eating more of whatever I told myself to eat less of. (Fun fact: I have authority issues, even if that authority is me.) By February, I have not “read more books.” By March, I have not finished my taxes early for once and my calendar is not full of coffee dates with friends who I swore to see more of.
And I am feeling guilty about all of it. And it sucks.
New Year’s Day is not at all the complete and total human nature reset button that our culture would have you believe. Because the thing that no one ever seems to want to say: we’re the exact same people on January 1 we were on December 31.
Cool. So now that we’ve got that down, here’s the other thing that’s important to remember right along with it:
On February 1, we have grown a month’s worth in some way. We have had an entire 31 days worth of new experiences, challenges, ups and downs, conflicts and resolutions that have taught us something (even if we aren’t able to identify what just yet).
By March 1 all that growth has doubled. Doubled!
So by August — well wow, who knows. Maybe by then we are in fact even a tiny bit better at saying no, being more present, showing grace, sleeping more, purging our lives of the energy suckers, eating one more vegetable a week, making our beds, saving money, listening to our kids’ problems without trying to solve them, putting the phone down just 2% more often, or whatever it is that you have resolved to do.
Progress is gradual. New habits are built over time. Success is never an overnight thing. And if we hold ourselves to the impossible standard of being an entirely new person in the new year, we will always fail ourselves.
So let’s not do that.
I still remember my first therapy appointment, years ago. She asked why I was there, and I sighed, before confessing an overwhelming litany of bad habits, self-criticisms and inadequacies.
As I started to tear up, thinking just how broken I was, what with all the flaws and failures, she cut me off and said, “wait…I think we’re missing something here.”
Oh great, I thought. One more thing to add to the list.
“I believe,” she said with so much kindness, “the real problem is that you’re too hard on yourself.”
And so that is the advice I now pass on to those of you who, like me, can feel overwhelmed by the resolutions and the intentions and the mantras, those of you who feel the pressure to make big promises to yourself that you may or may not be able to keep.
It’s okay. Keep going.
Because with a little grace and a little time and perspective you will see that you are not the same person you were at 13 or 30 or on January 1st of the previous year.
You will see progress.
You will see a trajectory that actually looks kind of wonderful.
You might even call it growth.
Oh, I almost forgot to share my word of the year.
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