For much of my adult life I built up NYE to be this magical night where I got dressed up, drank champagne, and danced the year away. Unfortunately, the version I had in my head and what actually happened were two very different things.
Let’s see. There was the year that I got kicked out of the bar for yelling at the doorman for not letting my friend in. I had to stand in the cold for hours waiting on my ride wearing strappy sandals and a tube top in the freezing cold because apparently I thought I was above wearing a coat. How about the year I called and woke up my parents by screaming in the phone “Happy New Year” at 11pm because I was in a different time zone. The year that I invited some friends from out of town to go out to a fancy dinner which resulted in me drinking so much that I spent the night crying my eyes out and passing out by 10. Soon came the year I got older and way more “mature.” I called New Year’s Eve Amateur Night and decided to just drink 10% IPA’s on a Tuesday for no reason whatsoever.
Thankfully, I never got into trouble or hurt anyone. However, no matter how hard I had tried to create the perfect kickoff to the year-alcohol got in the way. I spent many years waking up on New’s Year’s Day feeling hungover, let down, and in a whirlwind of regret.
Naturally those feelings spawned me to start making lists and promises that would set me straight. I would vow to never drink again, to eat clean every day, to exercise for an hour daily, and to be the best person I could be. Unfortunately by 6pm on 1/1 I had already given up on most of my dreams.
As it turns out I was too hungover to exercise. The alcohol from the night before was screaming for more alcohol (because it’s a highly addictive drug and that’s exactly what it does). And due to lack of sleep-my body was craving terrible food covered in grease and/or sugar (go google how sleep affects your diet). You see how those resolutions could be a problem?
By 1/2 I was already back to my old ways and absolutely hating myself for not being able to stick to things that would have been impossible for me to accomplish to begin with. It’s not fun starting the year out feeling like a failure, full of self pity, and so anxious that I may never be able to accomplish a single goal. I started to reconsider the whole resolution thing.
I discovered that while the idea of starting something new was super exciting-it was also overwhelming when I was only focused on the highs and lows. I learned that if I wasn’t able to do something small (like go one day without drinking) how was I going to go the rest of my life without drinking? I decided that I needed to find a new way.
So, instead of making a grand resolution I started to lay a foundation. I educated myself and made a commitment to learning. I had to ask the very dreaded question of “why?” and dig really deep to get the answers. I did need to make a list-but instead of filling it with things that I will start doing-I needed to fill it with the connection between what I am doing and what I want. Then dig deeper and deeper by continuing to ask the right questions and give honest answers.
I finally kicked the highs and lows and focused on one single second at a time (the only one we have). I learned that all or nothing thinking doesn’t serve me at all. Life is not all or nothing. It is a collection of single seconds leading to every moment, day, week.
Thankfully I learned the concept of what I want vs. what I want right now. I perseverated on this to lower my impulses and push past the moment for the bigger picture. Not easy but doable when I focused on one moment at a time.
Then I began to love myself completely and to forgive myself for mistakes. I vowed to stop the self loathing and to start allowing myself to be renewed every single second.
And then I let go. I started to believe in something bigger than me and I stepped outside of my selfishness. I started to ask how living my best life could serve others and how I could contribute to this world.
Finally, change started to happen. Good, positive, and sustainable change. It wasn’t immediate and it didn’t make a giant impact but slowly and surely I started to make progress toward the things I wanted.
So, this year instead of resolving you can find me reflecting on the past year and giving thanks. I will continue to live with intention by asking questions when things don’t feel right and being honest with myself about my actions and my dreams.
Happy New Year!!