Setting Intentions for the Year and Beyond

I’m a few days behind, but I have finally settled on a New Years Resolution

I want to read for pleasure more. This probably seems very simple to many of you, and I suppose it is. But in my previous life I taught college English.

I had to read so much for work, from student essays and stories, to pedagogy, to texts I was teaching, to the daily onslaught of emails, that reading, even books I loved, stopped feeling relaxing or pleasurable to me. I was unable to turn off my critical brain and sit down and simply enjoy the written word. So I want to rebuild my reading habits, and recapture the love of books I had as a child and young adult.

I don’t make resolutions because I feel I have to become a new me in the new year, but because I believe the present is always a good time to learn something new.

I believe endlessly, in the power of humans to change, and while I have and always will work towards a kind of self-acceptance, I recognize that there is and must be room to do better. In big ways and small. 

I never used to make resolutions

I thought they were a bit silly. But for the past few years I’ve made one and really enjoyed it. I’ve resolved to be kinder, to speak up for myself in romantic relationships, and to form intuitive eating habits, among others.

These kinds of resolutions required me to be very honest with myself about the progress I was making. They don’t have formulas or checklists, which meant they were also easy to forget about. Working on oneself in this way, as many of you know, is not linear.

No resolution is, really. And I think that is what led me for so long to think that resolutions were silly or I was failing at them. The expectation that change should be quick. It isn’t. Habits take time to form. The benefit of a resolution is that it helps us to set our intentions for the year and beyond.

But it is important to give ourselves the time and space to work through these goals and ideas. If we expect perfection from the first week of January, well, what is the point? 

In the year I resolved to be kinder, I failed often

I still fail at it. But I am getting better. And I expect that even this seemingly easy resolution of reading more will have its ups and downs. I don’t think that one must wait for a new year, to make a new start. Each day, really is the start of a new year, and gives us yet another chance to grow and change and leave the world a little better than we found it.

But it is nice to look back at the start of a new year, and see what we can learn in order to move forward. It is natural to seek something new when the year turns over, even if we know that a different number doesn’t necessarily change anything. It feels fresh and open.

I like soaking in those possibilities. I am excited at the thought of how changing my relationship to words and books might change me in other ways. What might I realize is possible, from this small thing?

I find myself drawn to making, to knitting and sewing, because it shows clearly what I know to be true. Everything large is made up of so many small things we don’t see.

Any big change in our lives requires many small ones to be possible, just as a dress requires stitches, as fabric requires threads.

But instead of being overwhelmed by this idea, this year, I am finding joy in it. In the mystery of wondering what might grow from which small choice I make.

I’m excited about what I might sew and knit and bake, and also about all those invisible things that might be made in 2021. All those small turns that could lead somewhere unexpected and wonderful. 

If you are making a resolution, be gentle with yourself as you work towards your goal. Learning to sew, or quilt or knit, taking on a new kind of project, or embarking on any kind of internal goal takes time. If you haven’t or don’t want to make a New Year’s Resolution, that’s okay too. It is enough just to be here, to have made it this far. Happy New Year! May we all find much to celebrate in the coming months. 

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