For the last two years, I have been journaling pretty much every day or every other day. I have two “books” written, filled with general ramblings, drunken lectures to myself, and random chocolate bar wrappings. What started as figuratively barfing my feelings onto a page became that and so much more. It has become the way I describe and memorialize the world around me as I perceive it. It is empowering to rewrite the day and focus on what I want to focus on. The good, the bad, whatever it is, I can change how I feel about the day, and thus what happened, by what I write down. By how I write it down. The word choice and phrasing changes the attitude, connotation, and feelings I have about otherwise objective events. This kind of power is serious business.
Which is why, on this New Year’s Eve, I’m not going to write a damn thing.
There is so much pressure to have the perfect New Year’s goals and to get on the right track to revamping one’s life. Last year at this time, I was sitting down and planning my life and even setting daily goals (such as having a fresh juice a day, which lasted until mid-March). Which was fine! Planning is a vital aspect of reaching any goal. Go me. But the fact is, virtually nothing I planned actually happened. Did you read that? Probably 90% of my life this year I had absolutely no ability to foresee. Precog I am not.
What does this have to do with journaling? Well, tonight I felt stressed. I was stressed because amidst lots of back-to-back travel, little sleep, and too many lovely adventures to process all at once, I have not journaled in about a week. And I felt guilty.
“Oh no! I haven’t set any goals!? I have no resolutions and I did not even realize it was New Year’s Eve and it is 9p.m.?! Clearly, I am failing,” said Natalie’s brain and inner monologue.
But I do not need to feel bad or guilty or less-than. New Year’s resolutions and goal-setting are potentially helpful tools. Renewal and rejuvenation coming out of winter is a time-tested process practiced by our ancestors for generations. And clearly since our species is still around, it works pretty well. But just like most other now-secular events, we ascribe an inordinate amount of power to something that does not deserve it.
New Year’s is a multi-million dollar endeavor just on fireworks alone. An entire industry is built around getting you to buy gym memberships and addiction breaking tapes to get that resolution checked off. Health and wellness websites post loads of helpful articles on all the things that you need to do to get those resolutions right. The more concentrated the timeframe for these ads is, the more pressure you feel and likelihood you’ll buy [into it].
But let’s face it, this is a stressful and not so great time for many people to hit that reset button. Modern life does not revolve around only one part of the world’s seasonal changes and structure. The highs and lows of weather and work do not align with the western New Year’s day. Forcing it upon the entire world is not helping a pretty big group of people. In my case, I’m in 90 degree weather and in the middle of a couple projects. Now is not my ideal time to “renew”. My natural rhythm is not now, but in a couple months.
So I’m urging myself to let go of any pressure, guilt, or remorse. If now is a good time for some of you to reflect and reset, then do it. I wish you all the best and success. However, for anyone and everyone else, feel free to let this holiday float by you with a contented “whoosh” sound.
I do not need to journal my year and write out everything I want to accomplish in 2017. When I need to reevaluate my goals and set new intentions, the pages and pen will be there. There is power to my pen and the more I give it, the less stress-reducing benefit I receive. The more I rely on social calendars, the less I listen to my own inner timing.
Go have an awesome beginning to 2017, no matter how you start it.