“Make dreams, not resolutions” was a slogan I saw in my Twitter stream recently, and I’ve been quite captivated by the thought. In that spirit, I offer these few words of encouragement as we head into a new year that—despite looming fiscal cliffs and on-going worldwide strife—is, as always, full of hope and new possibilities.
Resolutions are Duties, Dreams are passions
As a planner by nature, I’m a huge believer in setting goals and establishing plans. Yet, oddly enough, this doesn’t extend to New Year’s resolutions. While resolutions are a type of goal or plan, somehow there’s something very downcast and difficult about “resolutions.” Too often, they seem to be about “giving up” something, rather than moving toward something with vigor and spirit—a duty or obligation rather than a passion. This is why, I think, resolutions often go by the wayside after only a few days or weeks. They don’t elevate our hopes or engage our dreams.
We all can be more organized, or manage our time better, or be more focused, or more responsive, or stop doing this or start doing that. Those are all on our checklist as mature adults—and we should do our best to improve in each area. But in terms of charting a path for the new year, they’re not going to truly inspire many of us. What if, instead, our goal was to dream a new dream, or to re-invigorate an old one … even if it’s one that might strike some as impractical or unrealistic? Maybe so—but that’s ok. It’s your passion, and who knows where it might lead?
… you gave yourself permission to pursue your love of foreign cultures by pursuing your certificate in global human resources—even if your current duties don’t extend any further than supporting the branch office in Piscataway?
… you sat down and put fingers to keyboard and wrote the novel, or short-story, or blog that you’ve had in your heart and mind for the longest time, but were never confident enough to begin (or finish)—even if you’ve never published a word of your thoughts before and have no idea where to begin or whether anyone else might find it interesting?
… you let out your inner volunteer (and inner leader) and gathered a few like-minded neighbors to start the food pantry for the needy in your community that you can see in your mind’s eye—even if you don’t have much more than a few cans of soup and a corner shelf in a garage to start out with?
… you set out to learn Italian (or Russian, or Hebrew, or Chinese), for no other reason than you’ve always wanted to speak that tongue, so you beg or borrow cd’s for your car to study in peace on your daily commute—even though you’re not gifted at languages and your high school French teacher shook her head disapprovingly when you tried pronouncing even the simplest phrase?
Any of these things—or a million others—might inspire or engage you, and could lead you in untold wonderful directions. Or, they might lead nowhere other than having accomplished the thing itself. Either way, they’re sure to lift the spirit and re-set your perspective on the world around you. Thoreau advised us to “advance confidently in the direction of your dreams.” Indeed. That’s something no resolution could give you.
Special wishes for a truly wonderful, meaningful, and inspired 2013!